Exploring Soundtracks: John Wick 3

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiKDDKog3Y4

The third installment of the John Wick series brings more of the same in its soundtrack — which is a good thing. Read on for a full breakdown of the soundtrack to “John Wick 3”.

For the past two weeks, we’ve covered the first two chapters of the John Wick saga. I’m pleased to report that the soundtrack to “Chapter 3 – Parabellum” features a score composed by Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard, who have been responsible for the music behind the John Wick series so far. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

While “John Wick 3” recently released this year, plans for the fourth installment of the series are already in motion. “John Wick 4” is set for a 2021 release, and there’s a good chance that it’ll be the last one. An outcast assassin can only stay on the run for so long, after all. Luckily, that’s still a ways away.

Before we get into the soundtrack itself, here’s a quick recap of the plot to “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”, for those who either haven’t seen it yet, or just need a quick refresher.

Synopsis

After murdering a member of the High Table (shadowy, international assassin’s group), John Wick is stripped of the protective services of the Continental. Now he’s got a $14 million bounty on his head, and no safe place to go. With the world’s most dangerous and merciless killers on his tail, Wick must fight through the streets of New York to survive against all odds.

John Wick 3

The soundtrack to “John Wick 3” is about as formulaic as the plot. But we’re not complaining here. We know exactly what we’re signing up for when we sit down to watch Keanu Reeves spend two hours killing hit men with gun-fu.

The familiar synth tones and lo-fi pacing of tracks like “Tick Tock Mr. Wick” and “Taxi Ride” do a good job of heightening the tension, while also easing us into the film without being too much. Luckily, it doesn’t take long for the adrenaline-pumping music to come through in “Rain Chase”. Electronic whirring and pounding drums are a nasty combo.

One interesting note though, is that a lot of the earlier fight scenes play out in complete silence. Not only does this enhance the action on screen as it plays out, but it also increases the effectiveness of the booming soundtrack when it comes in again.

A song from The Nutcracker that doesn’t make the soundtrack also gives a brief respite of classical music when John finds momentary sanctuary at his old home. The serene tone and dancing ballerina are a welcome contrast, so that the nearly nonstop assault of synth, drum and bass doesn’t get too overwhelming. Later, in the same setting, Julia Aks’ “Dance of the Two Wolves” melds together classical and electronic in a wonderfully energetic display. It’s John Wick meets classical exactly as you’d think it would be.

Final Thoughts

As opposed to the previous John Wick films, there wasn’t really a single “dub step” anthem to coincide with a fight scene in “John Wick 3”. Instead, one of the near-end climactic gunfights features more classical music, along with one after it that leans more toward synth and electric rock. But luckily, “Zero vs Wick” gives us something close enough to be satisfying. It’s going to be a long wait for “John Wick 4”, but hopefully we’ll hear more from Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard before then.

That about does it for our discussion today. We’ll be back next week with another soundtrack to explore.

Track List

  1. “Parabellum (Opening Titles)” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  2. “Tick Tock Mr. Wick” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  3. “Taxi Ride” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  4. “Excomunicado” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  5. “Rain Chase” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  6. “Antique Gun Assembly” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  7. “J.W. Horse Whisperer” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  8. “Dance of the Two Wolves” – Julia Aks
  9. “The Adjudicator” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  10. “Wick In Morocco” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  11. “Kill What You Love” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  12. “Continental Morocco” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  13. “Desert Walk” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  14. “Elder Tent Offering” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  15. “He Shot My Dog” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  16. “Grand Central Station” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  17. “Cycle Samurais” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  18. “The Glass House” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  19. “Deconsecrated” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  20. “Winter At The Continental” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  21. “Shotgun Hot Tub” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  22. “Glass House Fight” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  23. “Zero vs Wick” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
  24. “Really Pissed Off (End Credits)” – Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richard
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