Is 'John Wick Chapter 3' A Fitting Sequel? Here's What The Reviews Have To Say
'WILDLY CREATIVE, ELABORATELY DETAILED'

· Updated:

If the first two "John Wick" movies gave Keanu Reeves's *other* famous action role serious competition, now "Chapter 3 — Parabellum" (out May 17) has to stick the trilogy landing. Is this another great Wick outing, or more of a "Matrix Revolutions" vibe? Here's what the reviews say:

The Movie Picks Up Right Where The Last One Ended

John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, directed by Chad Stahelski, begins with Wick's excommunication from the global organization of assassins for refusing to follow the rules. There's now a $14 million bounty on his head, which is a high enough price for practically all of New York City to come after him.

[Polygon]

Wick's goal on the run is to get to the Director (Anjelica Huston), who trained young John Wick and is the only one who can save him now – but, at a price. The whole thing is just relentless.

[UPROXX]

Wick Is Still A Role That Only Keanu Reeves Could Master

Keanu Reeves once again owns the screen as this most sympathetic of good bad men, providing another emotionally restrained performance even while clearly giving it his all physically.

[IGN]

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood actors of his generation, Reeves is fanatically committed to nailing his action scenes here, and all the while glimmers of his inherent soulfulness, as hard as he tries to tamp them down, give Wick a sort of strange warmth that allows the character to remain likable despite doing little here to deserve that likability.

[Variety]

In its most enjoyably demented moments, "Parabellum" is nothing short of a non-stop metaphor for being famous. Less artful but more concussive than its immediate predecessor, this latest outing finds Mr. Wick being clocked by strangers every time he enters a room, stalked by his biggest fans, and so desperate for someone who will treat him like an actual human being that he travels all the way to the Sahara Desert to find them.

[IndieWire]


The Action Is As Good As Ever, Though In Volume It Risks Getting A Little Rote

There's nothing John — or his opponents, for that matter — can't use to kill someone here: bare hands, guns, swords, books, belts, knives, animals, gravity. There are a million ways to die in this movie, all of them executed in the most visceral, "did they really just do that?!" fashion that fans have come to expect.

[IGN]

On a level of pure craft, then, "John Wick 3" is unquestionably great action filmmaking – certainly the most technically accomplished of the series thus far, with a good dozen scenes that could only have been pulled off by a director, a stunt team, an editor and a cast working at the absolute highest level. But as masterfully executed as the action is, watching two-plus hours of mayhem without any palpable dramatic stakes, or nuance, or any emotion at all save bloodlust offers undeniably diminishing returns.

[Variety]

The Movie's Better When It's Light On The Worldbuilding…

We do learn a bit more about Wick and we're introduced to new characters from his past, but it just doesn't feel as bogged down with worldbuilding as the previous installment.

[UPROXX]

The film's world-building works best in small doses. A meeting in the middle of the desert is a total dead end, whereas all sorts of fun details can be inferred from Stahelski's frequent cutaways to the High Table nerve center, where dozens of tattooed and lip-glossed workers monitor Wick's bounty with an old-fashioned switchboard (imagine a SuicideGirls reboot of "Mad Men" and you'll have the right idea).

[IndieWire]

The Wickverse is a wildly creative, elaborately detailed pulp realm of rules, codes of conduct, Masonic hierarchies, and even old-world civility. One of the new characters introduced in John Wick 3 is Asia Kate Dillon's "Ajudicator", who spells out the fine print of the High Table like a scowling font of footnotes. As the franchise has unfolded, that world has broadened and become more and more fleshed out, so much so that it now risks becoming ridiculously baroque.

[Entertainment Weekly]


… And Much, Much Better When It Sticks To New York City

The international detour in Parabellum feels like dead air. The ever-expanding mythology of the assassin underworld is fascinating, but there can be too much of a good thing, and the Wick movies have trouble walking that line.

[Polygon]

If the Moroccan interlude saps the film of much of the first act's rush (which was, to be fair, unsustainable), things get back up to speed once we return to NYC.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

The Ensemble Cast New And Old Is A Welcome Sight…

As a man without a country in John Wick 3, Reeves' bruised and battered hero is forced to call in the only two favors he has left to his credit. The first is with an underworld Russian mother figure who's played by Anjelica Huston (doing her best Maria Ouspenskaya accent) and who helps him flee to Casablanca. The second is with an equally badass assassin in Morocco played by Halle Berry (whose pair of attack dogs steal the middle-third of the movie). Neither Oscar-winning actress will likely win another statuette for their work here, but they lend the film a jolt of unexpected emotional weight.

[Entertainment Weekly]

Chapter 3 also brings back fan faves like amoral Continental Hotel boss Winston (the always droll Ian McShane), the proud but pragmatic Bowery King (a scenery-chewing Laurence Fishburme), and the loyal, resolute Continental concierge Charon (Lance Reddick, who gets to be more badass than ever here)

[IGN]

… But Marc Dacascos' Assassin Is The Best New Addition

The biggest scene-stealer is Marc Dacascos as Zero, the main assassin in Chapter 3. John Wick has become such an underworld legend that he has fans, Zero among them, which lends Dacascos' scenes some refreshing moments of levity amidst all the carnage.

[IGN]

Dacascos goes from stereotypical stoic assassin to the kind of overly earnest bro who'd fit seamlessly into the Fast and Furious franchise. (Give him a spinoff, please!)

[Polygon]

If You Appreciated The Visual Flair Of The Last Two Films, 'Parabellum' Won't Disappoint In That Department

If the setting of Chapter 2's climax, a hall-of-mirrors museum installation, was a kind of Instagram thirst-trap version of The Lady from Shanghai, this film offers the series' take on Jacques Tati's Playtime, a cold glass world where transparent barriers cause playful misunderstandings — when they're not keeping one guy from killing another. Much more beautiful than the last film's finale, this sequence also makes better use of the personalities in the room and, in its best moments, is as thrilling as the leaner fight scenes that got the movie started.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

Since making his debut on the first "John Wick," Stahelski's technical ambition and ability has grown substantially each time out, and it's hard to think of too many filmmakers outside of Asia who are willing to invest the sort of care and detail-work into combat scenes that Stahelski provides over and over again.

[Variety]

TL;DR

Throw a horse chase, a Villainess-esque motorcycle-katana fight, and a healthy dose of electro-Vivaldi into the mix, and it's just enough to keep the Wick formula working — and keep an audience wanting more.

[Polygon]


Watch The Trailer

 

<p>Mathew Olson is an Associate Editor at Digg.</p>

Is The Seth Rogen Comedy 'An American Pickle' Any Good? Here's What The Reviews Say
IN A REAL PICKLE HERE

Digg · Updated:

The movie, which streams on HBO Max on August 6, has an enticing premise: a man gets preserved in a jar in the early 20th century and wakes up 100 years later in contemporary Brooklyn. But does the movie itself live up to its zany plot? Here's what the reviews say.


Seth Rogen Plays Two Men, Herschel Greenbaum, A Man Who Wakes Up After 100 Years In A Pickle Vat, And Greenbaum's Great-Grandson, Ben

An Eastern European labourer named Herschel (Seth Rogen) arrives in America, only to be pickled for 100 years in a factory accident. He awakes in 2020, and moves in with his only surviving relative: great-grandson Ben (also Rogen). Things are going swimmingly — until Herschel wrecks Ben's business, leading to a vengeful game of oneupmanship.

[Empire]

While Hershel is low-key confounded by these modern times (what with interracial dating, women's rights, and the high cost of produce), he is most perplexed by his descendant's priorities. Ben doesn't observe Jewish religious traditions and hasn't visited the family graves in years. He has no wife, no children, and no career that Herschel can comprehend. So tensions rise. In no time at all, the pair declare each other enemies. Herschel strikes out on his own with a pickle cart with wares pulled freegan-style from dumpster diving. Meanwhile, Ben stews over how to ruin his eccentric great-grandfather.

[IGN]


The Movie Probes Into Issues Of Jewish Immigration Identity — Though Perhaps Not Deeply Enough

In its best moments, An American Pickle knows how to thread the needle between fish-out-of-water comedy and retaining a thoughtful look at Jewish ancestry in America, but those moments are few and far between […] Every time the movie has a chance to go deeper, whether it's with immigration or legacy or American comfort or Judaism, An American Pickle skims the surface and moves on.

[Collider]

Made in the midst of a resurgence in blatant anti-Semitism across the US, it's a strange choice for "An American Pickle" to reveal that Herschel's greatest backlash comes from...violent Christians? The movie sidesteps the most alarming aspect of Jewish persecution — its resurgence in public over the last four years — and never even gives Herschel a chance to learn about the Holocaust.

[IndieWire]


As A Comedy, It Sometimes Falls Flat In Delivering Laughs

There are some scattered laughs but it's not particularly funny, and "American Pickle" […] is generally all over the place, aiming to be an abstract comedy about family and religion but losing its way trying to also poke fun at modern culture.

[USA Today]

 [T]he film fails to build its laughs into substantial comic momentum, or even construct many substantial scenes. (Tellingly, one of its funniest is a mid-credits bonus.) As it progresses, the material feels more and more like a series of slightly amusing paragraphs, with sentimentality wedged uncomfortably between flights of satirical whimsy.

[The AV Club]

There are laughs along the way with Herschel and Ben's mirror-image intergenerational, culture-clash roommate bromance. But, inevitably, as with so much high-concept comedy, the real laughs, the ones built on detachment, self-aware flippancy and cynicism, come at the beginning, with the establishment of the premise.

[The Guardian]


The Story's Emotional Beats, However, Manage To Shine Through

 Despite the acrimoniousness of their split, you root for their inevitable reconciliation, which closes the movie on a warm note […] "An American Pickle" is neither the most substantial nor the most sophisticated comedy, but its soulful sweetness outweighs its flaws.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

It may not always succeed as a comedy but as a drama, this is the real dill. Part time-travelling family drama, part idiosyncratic immigrant-adventure comedy, "An American Pickle"'s gags underwhelm, but its emotion and originality will surprise you.

[Empire]

[T]he thread of leaning on family to process grief is touching, and Rogen manages to make Herschel and Ben's longing to connect feel real. The movie is frequently funny, sometimes sweet, and never particularly deep, but it does have a uniquely odd relationship to time that gives it a peculiar extra layer. Call it the proprietary brine.

[Wired]


And Rogen's Charisma Helps To Keep The Audience Entertained, Even When The Rest Of The Movie Falters

[I]t's enjoyable enough to watch the actor single-handedly rescue the high concept surrounding him.

[IndieWire]

Rogen is an always likable actor whose reputation was built largely on playing crude, sophomoric stoners. But there's an inherent sweetness in his screen persona that's been there since the very beginning on "Freaks and Geeks," notably in the affecting story arc in which his befuddled character, Ken Miller, struggled with the revelation of his tuba-playing girlfriend Amy's intersex birth origins. It's a variation on Ken — the tender, passionate bear of a guy occasionally stymied by his blind spots — that steers "An American Pickle" through its narrative rough patches.

[The Hollywood Reporter]


TL; DR

Nothing in "American Pickle" can match the silly storybook fantasy of its opening moments, but they do a good job of getting us hooked. 

[IndieWire]


Watch The Trailer Here


Is The Google Pixel 4A Worth It? Here's What The Reviews Say
NOT PHONING IT IN

Digg · Updated:

The Pixel 4A, which will be released on August 20, is incredibly affordable at $349, but can it compete with other smartphones? Here's what the reviews say.


The Best Feature Of The Phone Is The Camera

[W]hen it comes to photos, the Pixel 4A goes toe-to-toe with the iPhone 11 Pro and Samsung Galaxy S20 — and often wins.

[The Verge]

There is no distinguishable difference between the $350 Pixel 4a's and the Pixel 4's camera, a phone that starts at $800. That's incredible, and if you like your photos to look good, it's a major reason why the Pixel 4a should be at the very, very top of your list. 

[Business Insider]


Design-Wise, It's Not The Flashiest Phone

The Pixel has always been a phone that felt a lot nicer than it looked — it's not the most stylish. The Pixel 4a's design is even more basic than ever, though. It comes in Just Black and... that's it. There are no other sizes available, either. Keeping to one size and color was part of Google's strategy to reduce production costs. 

[Engadget]

The word I use most often to describe Pixel hardware is "unassuming." It's basic: no frills, no fanciness, just an easy-to-hold phone without any embellishments. It's a little boring, but at least it isn't tacky.

[The Verge]


But Helpful Software Features Like Live Captioning Might Be Drawing Points For Users

Google's software tends to make up for its basic hardware, and as usual, the company has some helpful tools that make the Pixel experience better than any other Android phone. Most of these have already been announced, like its personal safety and car crash detection feature, Google Docs integration for the Recorder app, as well as adaptive battery management. With the Pixel 4a, though, Google is bringing its Live Caption feature to calls.

[Engadget]

I like Google's bonus software features that it includes on Pixel phones. The voice recorder app is able to transcribe text, for example, and accurately transcribed about 90% of my interview with Google during a Pixel 4a briefing. It just saves me a ton of time that I'd otherwise spend trying to jot everything down. Other unique software features include crash detection, which can automatically call 911 if you get in a car accident.

[CNBC]


The Performance Of The Phone Is Generally Fine, Though It Can Be Slow Sometimes

The Pixel 4a has a mid-range Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. It's fine and fast enough to keep the phone running smoothly. There are a few hiccups at times, though. I noticed it would stutter while scrolling through long lists, like in Twitter, but that problem generally resolved itself after a few days. Google was aware of this, too, and it may just be that it takes some time for things to store inside the phone's memory.

[CNBC]

Anecdotally, the phone works quickly with most tasks. Unlocking the screen with my fingerprint, launching Assistant and opening apps went off without a hitch. But the Pixel 4A isn't the smoothest phone I handled. After I downloaded Call of Duty and PUBG, I had to restart the phone because both apps stalled while loading.

[CNET]


Some Of The Phone's Drawbacks Are Its Lack Of Wireless Charging And Waterproofness

Google left out one big feature that does matter: water resistance. That would save a phone that was accidentally dunked in a toilet or left out in a storm. So it was disappointing not to have it because durability was another feature that people wanted most in their smartphones.

[The New York Times]

This phone doesn't have some of the premium flourishes, like wireless charging, water resistance, a triple-lens camera, or 5G connectivity. But, it gets the core features so right that those extra flourishes seem irrelevant. 

[Business Insider]


Most Importantly Though, The Phone Is A Great Bargain With Its Cheap Price

The Pixel 4A is about $50 cheaper than its closest competitors and has 128GB of storage, instead of 64GB like years past, so it really is a solid value. And these days, any amount of money that can be saved is crucial.

[CNET]

The Pixel 4A is cheaper than high-end devices largely because it lacks the frills in fancy phones, like wireless charging and a face scanner. But for what you pay, it's a great value. Its camera quality and bright screen are on a par with many of the best smartphones out there.

[The New York Times]


TL; DR

The Pixel 4A is cheap and basic, but most cheap phones don't get the basics right. The Pixel 4A does. And just to remind you: it does so for $349.

[The Verge]


You can pre-order the Pixel 4A at Google Store and BestBuy. And if you're interested in buying a Pixel 4, you can buy one here.


If you buy something through our posts, we may receive a small share of the sale. Please buy a Ferrari. For more of Digg's suggestions on how to spend your money, check out Digg Picks.

Want more stories like this?

Every day we send an email with the top stories from Digg.

'It's the only newsletter that always engages me'
 →  Get the Digg morning newsletter
See a sample

👋 Welcome to Digg

Thanks for creating an account! Your accounts lets you Digg (upvote) stories, save stories to revisit later, and more.


📩 Stay up-to-date

Email will be sent to:

Select the newsletters you’d like to receive. You can change your subscriptions any time in your user settings.

🎉 You’re all set!

Enjoy your new account! As a reminder, you can change your profile and email settings in your profile.

View account