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John Wick 3 Parabellum movie review: Keanu Reeves delivers the best action film since Mission Impossible Fallout



John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
Director – Chad Stahelski
Cast – Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Lawrence Fishburne, Mark Dacascos, Lance Reddick, Ian McShane, Angelica Huston
– 4.5/5

The only way John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum could’ve been better is if Keanu Reeves had somehow got his hands on one of those ‘desi kattas’ from an Anurag Kashyap movie, and gone and shot the CBFC’s worst ideas in the face. I’m being extreme; a couple of clips in the kneecaps would suffice.

As hyper-stylised Neo-noir action threequels go, it’s damn near a masterpiece – breathtakingly beautiful to look at, mythologically dense, and featuring the best action set pieces since Mission: Impossible – Fallout. And for it to have been desecrated in the manner that it has is positively criminal.

When it is at its most euphorically adventurous, as John Wick is beating a giant man with a hardbound library book, the Indian censor board decides that watching this death in particular – despite the film having shown dozens of other deaths already – is too much for an adult human to handle. And so it arbitrarily slices and dices important scenes, making up its own rules as it goes along, guided by a wonky moral compass.

Watch the John Wick 3: Chapter 3 – Parabellum here

It’s disappointing, to be sure, but this is John Wick we’re talking about – it is said that he once killed three men in a bar with a pencil (a pencil!). He is a man of focus, commitment, and sheer will. He can smash mountains, bury oceans and escape the light. He can do better than a bunch of bored uncles.

Not two weeks have passed since the events of the first film, when that poor fool decided to kill John Wick’s dog and ended up incurring that wrath of his alter ego, the Baba Yaga. In those two weeks, John Wick has taken down literally hundreds of New York’s finest Russian gangsters, gone on an Italian ‘vacation’, and has thumbed his nose at the High Table – the mythical government of sorts in this fictional world of assassins and a$$holes.

This makes him a man on the run, with nowhere to hide and an entire city’s worth of assassins hot on his trail, looking to grab a slice of that $14 million bounty.

Like its two predecessors, it navigates between highbrow cinema and schlocky garbage better than Sebastian Vettel around a race track. At one point John visits a theatre named after the great Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky; and then there are the requisite nods to spaghetti westerns and Hong Kong gun-fu. It is, however, also a film in which a dog bites a man in the crotch multiple times. And through cinematographer Dan Laustsen’s lens, even the campiest bits look like high art.

It’s fabulously lean, plot wise – John Wick has a target on his back, and he must fight to have it removed. This takes him to Casablanca, where he meets up with an old friend (and possibly flame?) played by the perfectly cast Halle Berry. Keanu Reeves – bless his pure heart – isn’t the best actor in the world (likely even his street), but in just a couple of scenes manages to convey years of history with Sofia, Berry’s character. Their partnership was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the film, and I can’t wait for them to team up again in future instalments.

The dense world building that was teased in the first couple of John Wicks is more fleshed out in this one, with the introduction of an even higher power – the Elder, who apparently outranks even the High Table, and is the only one who can grant him forgiveness. If the John Wick series is one giant metaphor for Catholicism (as I fully believe it is) then the Elder is sort of like the Pope. The film’s themes of guilt and penance, sin and salvation certainly suggest so. Although it could just as easily be a film about surviving in a corporate jungle, bound by rules and bureaucracy.

John Wick 3 is a film with many adversaries, but not necessarily a villain – in all honesty, I would contend its biggest nemesis is the CBFC. As per usual, a vast majority of the men who are sent to stop John Wick are merely faceless obstacles that he must slice and shoot his way through. In that regard, the third film is closer to resembling a video game than the previous entries in this unlikely franchise. After every immaculately choreographed fight, John Wick levels up, until he arrives, exhausted but evolved, for the boss battle.

Mark Dacascos stars as the primary antagonist, Zero, whom he plays like a cross between a fanboy and a samurai. The tone of their final showdown wasn’t unlike Grigor Dimitrov challenging his idol Roger Federer at Wimbledon. And despite John Wick 3 being the only Hollywood film to satisfactorily utilise the talents of The Raid’s Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman, in the end even the henchmen that they play are too awestruck by John Wick’s legend.

As one should be, I suppose. At three films old now, director Chad Stahelski is clearly onto something. A part of me wishes for him to branch out, to tell new stories; but a bigger part of me wants him to keep making these movies until glamorising guns like this becomes un-PC.


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Bharat celeb review: Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif film is labelled ‘paisa Vasool blockbuster’.



A day before of the release of Salman Khan-Katrina Kaif-starrer Bharat on Eid, the makers held a special screening in Mumbai. Many Bollywood stars attended it and came away praising the effort, showering it with their love.

Among those to praise it was producer Raj Nayak, who called it “Paisa Vasool BLOCKBUSTER”. He wrote: “Watched #bharat @BeingSalmanKhan is at his best. @KatrinaKaifFB steals the show with her brilliant performance. Beautifully directed by @aliabbaszafar. @WhoSunilGrover & @satishkaushik2 showcase how talented they are. Paisa Vasool BLOCKBUSTER ! @itsBhushanKumar #EidMubarak”

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Hum sab saath saath hain #Bharat

A post shared by Salman Khan (@beingsalmankhan) on

The film’s cast including Salman, Katrina, Tabu, Sonali Kulkarni, Sunil, Jackie Shroff attended the special screening. Salman’s family members – sister Alvira Khan with husband and co-producer Atul Agnihotri, brother Sohail Khan’s son Nirvaan and Arbaaz Khan’s son Arhaan —also accompanied Salman for the screening. Rumoured couple Tiger Shroff and Disha Patani were also spotted together at the screening. Choreographer Vaibhavi Merchant, singer Palak Muchhal, actor Mahesh Manjrekar and co-producer Bhushan Kumar were also seen at the screening.

Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, Bharat is an official remake of Korean drama An Ode to My Father and also stars Nora Fatehi, Sunil Grover and Disha Patani. Bharat tracks the story of a man named Bharat (essayed by Salman) from his childhood during India’s independence and the Partition to his old age as the country turned 60.


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Aladdin movie review: Will Smith makes the magic happen in Guy Ritchie’s Disney film



Director – Guy Ritchie
Cast – Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Nasim Pedrad
Rating – 3.5/5

Despite being one of the most unambitious tentpole films of the year, the live-action Aladdin is – by far – the oddest movie that director Guy Ritchie has ever made. And remember, he once made a rom-com for his ex-wife Madonna.

If you’ve been wondering, like me, why Disney has been shying away from highlighting Ritchie’s instantly recognisable trademarks in the trailers, it’s because there aren’t any in the film. This is strange, because Ritchie in the past has managed to bring his very distinct brand of cinema – replete with snazzy editing, flamboyant camerawork, and muscular action – even to properties as seemingly ancient as Sherlock Holmes and King Arthur. And on paper, Aladdin’s origins as a ‘street rat’ fall neatly into Ritchie’s wheelhouse, but he directs with little personality, as if, like the Genie, he has been trapped in a prison as well.

Watch the Aladdin trailer here

This isn’t to say that the new Aladdin is a failure – it most certainly isn’t – but I’d imagine this is simply a case of Ritchie trying to get back into Hollywood’s good books after the back-to-back box office failure of his last two movies. That being said, Aladdin is a vibrant adventure, featuring three excellent central performances, and laced with intelligent subtext about class – like Gully Boy meets Han Solo.

Like Ranveer Singh’s aspiring rapper from that film, Aladdin has also been bred on the streets, constantly reminded of his place in the world, confronted by the very real possibility that he will never be allowed to escape it.

Breaking out of the boxes that one is confined to – regardless of where we are born – is the central theme of Ritchie’s film. It’s what draws Aladdin to Princess Jasmine, who is – for all intents and purposes – a prisoner inside her own home, held under the age-old patriarchal excuse of protection, ‘seen but not heard’. The desire to climb the social ladder is what motivates the villainous vizier Jafar, who is given a heftier backstory in this film, one that neatly mirrors Aladdin’s.

And ironically, the only one who can make their dreams come true is a prisoner himself. Will Smith’s Genie is introduced about 45 minutes into the film, and is single-handedly responsible for injecting it with the energy that is sorely missing in the first act. Genie not only brings the humour, but also gives the film an excuse to be more visually inventive. After some solid, if not spectacular sequences set in the narrow gullies of Agrabah (which sadly never ceases to look like a hollow set surrounded by green screen environments), the Genie introduces himself with a grand, visually arresting musical number. And thankfully, he does not look like chewed up bubble gum anymore.

Aladdin is – and depending on your familiarity with the original animated film, this may or may not come as a surprise – an outright musical. Composer Alan Menken returns, joined this time by La La Land’s Pasek & Paul to produce new music for the film. These are some of its best scenes, especially the reprisal of Prince Ali (which Ritchie directs like a homage to Sridevi’s Himmatwala), and the always stirring A Whole New World, performed, thankfully, by stars Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott in the film, and not, as had been threatened, by Zayn Malik or DJ Khaled, or god forbid, Badshah.

It’s no mean feat for any actor to hold their own opposite the majestic screen presence that is Will Smith, but Ritchie has always had an eye for casting. Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott are excellent finds. Had it not been for their effortless chemistry, and their fresh-faced innocence, their scenes together could have been awfully bland – especially with no Genie to elevate them.

There’s a reason why Will Smith has been given top billing in the credits, above even the title character. Legal and political reasons aside, this movie would not have worked without him. It helps that he plays Genie as an exaggerated version of his own public persona, a trick that worked immensely well for the late Robin Williams in the original movie, too.

Like every film in Disney’s recent spate of live-action remakes, Aladdin also reeks of cash-grab cynicism. However well you spin it, it has no other reason to exist than to make the Mouse House millions of dollars. Children are just as likely to discover the old film, and perhaps even better off for it. But, crucially, it isn’t cynically made. There’s an earnestness to it that we’re seeing more often now, perhaps because we, as an audience, seem to have had enough of dark, twisted takes; and arguably because the world seems to be losing sight of what is right and what is wrong.

And so, we turn to the movies, as always – to guide us, morally, to remind us, and to show us a whole new world.


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Book Review: Men and Dreams: In the Dhauladhar



Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar is a wonderfully interwoven story of three people who accidentally meet each other in the Dhauladhar range. The story revolves around a hydroelectric project which has been passed to construct a dam in the same range.

With the most unique plot, the book focuses on how life continues to move on even when it is full of hurdles and full of ups and downs. The story line is incredibly genuine.

The three main characters, whilst Nanda, Khusru and Rekha have been so effortlessly sketched. The character development is Superb. Seldom do readers find a book which satisfies things more than one can ever imagine, and this one is just the epitome of that. With a wide spectrum of themes tracing different aspects of life, this book proves to be a 5 star read.

The plot is something which we don’t encounter frequently. The narration is effortlessly spectacular. The writing style and the flow is really commendable. It just never breaks the ease flow. Overall, it was indeed a great read!

About The Author : Kochery C. Shibu is a retired naval officer. A graduate from the National Defence Academy he has held several important posts in the Indian Navy. Post his retirement he has executed hydroelectric projects in the Cauvery river basin in Karnataka, Beas river basin in Himachal and lately Teesta river basin in Sikkim. He holds a postgraduate degree in Defence Studies from Chennai University, and MA in English Literature from Pune University. Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar is his debut novel. The technical content of the novel, namely the setting up of a hydro-project is drawn from his experience in these projects since 2005, as are many of the characters inspired from those whom he encountered at the project site. Kochery C. Shibu was born in Kochi and now lives in Bangalore with his wife and daughter.

Buy Men And Dreams In The Dhauladhar From Amazon

Review by : Sudarshan Wagh

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