Johnnie To has been operating at a peak for so long, it's likely we might be starting to take him for granted. Even so, "Three" proves a devilishly entertaining thriller that finds the director at his most playful and Hitchcockian. To makes glorious use of the widescreen frame, positioning characters and objects like chess pieces...and that's even before the almost "Gravity"-esque shootout of the climax.
A disappointing return from Johnnie To that seems derivative and uninspired at best from a director that has made a number of action genre classics. Main problem is the scripting that reportedly was not complete at time of shooting...it shows. The hospital setting is not novel and character development here is pretty ridiculous. Usually a fan of To but this one is worth passing on.
Until the climactic shootout-- again proving To the finest modern set piece, action director, a cross between the staging of Leone and the rousing ballet-esque orchestration of Hong Kong-era Woo-- Three wrings tension and suspense from actionless action. To's Mainland China-made Drug War battled censorship, here he works free again in Hong Kong at the apex of his career, and with one of his few optimistic endings.