Ballerina is the next spinoff in the John Wick franchise, but following the first spinoff, the 2024 movie could learn a lot of lessons. The Continental was the first John Wick spinoff, and it unfortunately received a mixed reception with a 64% on Rotten Tomatoes. The series had a lot of potential and an exciting premise, as the Peacock show was set in the 1970s and followed a young version of Winston (Colin Woodell) as he became the manager of the titular hotel. The ’70s setting was fun, but the costumes and sets were all trimmings, and the series itself left audiences wanting.
Following The Continental: From the World of John Wick, Ballerina starring Ana de Armas will be the next John Wick spinoff, though it isn’t clear if the movie will share the TV show’s alienating subtitle. As Ballerina’s production is complete, Lionsgate can’t change much in the movie at this point, but given The Continental’s negative reception, it’s a clear indicator that the studio needs to put more effort into these spinoffs. The well-crafted four-movie franchise conditioned audiences into expecting the gold standard of action, but there are other lessons Ballerina can learn from The Continental.
10 Ballerina Needs To Include Keanu Reeves
While The Continental ultimately felt hollow beneath the ’70s exterior, the most glaring absence was Keanu Reeves himself. The series’ 1970s setting might have made it impossible for the character to appear, but the show essentially proved that the franchise can’t survive without the Baba Yaga. Thankfully, it has been confirmed that Reeves will return as John Wick in Ballerina. However, the movie is set in the eight months between John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and John Wick: Chapter 4, meaning that Wick will still be recovering underground. In that respect, Reeves might not be involved in the action, but an appearance is a step in the right direction.
9 Ballerina Must Avoid Separating Itself Too Much From John Wick
It isn’t just Reeves that needs to appear in the film, but the movie must still be tied to the John Wick character in some capacity. The Continental wasn’t connected to Wick whatsoever, and there wasn’t so much of a nod to his existence. That’s especially disappointing given that his name is literally in the spinoff’s title. Ballerina is seemingly making progress with its connection to John Wick. Though details about the Ballerina story haven’t been revealed, there are some indicators that link the titular assassin to John Wick. The Director (Anjelica Huston) is returning for Ballerina, and both de Armas’ character and Wick were raised in the Ruska Roma.
8 Ballerina Needs A More Compelling Villain
The villains in the John Wick series weren’t originally all that exciting, as Viggo was a stereotypical Russian mobster, and Santino was an entitled rich kid. However, the franchise upped its game with the introduction of antagonists like The Adjudicator, Zero, the Marquis, and Caine. Unfortunately, Mel Gibson’s Cormac, the 1970s Continental manager, is more in line with the early John Wick villains. Ballerina needs a villain who has a purpose and isn’t simply evil for the sake of being evil. Cormac murdered Thomas just so the story could move forward and Charon had a reason to betray Cormac. The 2024 movie deserves a way more compelling villain.
7 Ballerina Must Avoid The Continental’s Dialogue Problems
The Continental has major dialogue problems, as Winston often delivered overly long monologues, some of which were aimless, and so many other characters had lengthy diatribes of their own too. The issue isn’t just the amount of dialogue in The Continental, but that the dialogue wasn’t interesting or fun. John Wick famously says few words, but the few lines Reeves has pack huge punches. A lot of Keanu Reeves’ John Wick: Chapter 4 dialogue was cut, and that obviously worked well, and that’s something Ballerina could learn from. Though Ana de Armas is an Academy Award-nominated actor, in this case, limiting her dialogue works for Ballerina.
6 Ballerina Must Avoid The Continental’s Pacing Issues
Tied to the dialogue problems and the lack of action, The Continental had major pacing issues. The Peacock series ultimately felt boring, especially with the bloated 90-minute runtimes. The extended runtimes should have helped the pacing, but the directors failed to balance the story beats with thrilling action sequences and inciting moments. Ballerina director Len Wiseman (Underworld, Live Free or Die Hard) could overcome this. While the Underworld franchise isn’t a critical darling, the movies are huge audience pleasers, and just like the John Wick films, the Underworld movies do a great job of world-building, detailing deep lore, and filling the screen with blood-filled violence.
5 Ballerina Needs To Focus Less On The Soundtrack
The John Wick franchise has an undeniably great soundtrack, switching between thumping EDM and classic rock. However, while The Continental has an equally great soundtrack, the music felt almost as if it was the main focus of the show, or that the studio was overcompensating with the music for the lack of substance. Along with the great music, the John Wick franchise also has great action and engaging narratives, two things that The Continental didn’t have. Ballerina must have a great score and soundtrack, but it shouldn’t distract from what’s actually going on in the movie, something The Continental was guilty of.
4 Ballerina Must Avoid Retconning The John Wick Movies
The Continental retconned a lot of the John Wick series, such as Winston’s reaction to John Wick stating, “Guns, lots of guns” in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. The Continental even retcons the Bowery’s empire, as The Bowery King revealed in John Wick: Chapter 2 that he created the intelligence network, but the Bowery network is already fully formed in The Continental. None of that worked in the show, mainly because there was no reason to retcon those elements in the first place, and because they worked perfectly in the John Wick movies. Ballerina needs to avoid stepping on John Wick’s toes by retconning something that doesn’t need to be retconned.
3 Ballerina Must Avoid Falling Into The Continental’s Prequel Cliches
Certain clichés are unavoidable with prequels, but The Continental unapologetically leaned into every single one. The ’70s-based series tried to make viewers believe characters who aren’t in the John Wick movies would survive, and the show told pointless origin stories of objects (the assassins’ underworld’s currency). Worst of all, Winston dropped the same iconic line 40 years before John Wick said it, which is implausible. The 2024 movie is technically a prequel, as it’s set before John Wick: Chapter 4, so Ballerina needs to carefully avoid prequel clichés.
2 Ballerina Needs Way More (& Better) Action Than The Continental
The Continental was lacking in the action department, and while TV shows rarely have action sequences on the same scale as movies, this is a John Wick spinoff. An actionless John Wick project totally misunderstands the franchise and what the fanbase wants to see. Ballerina doesn’t have franchise director Chad Stahelski (a former stunt coordinator) at the helm, so Ballerina’s action likely still won’t be as great as the John Wick movies. Nevertheless, Wiseman has delivered some great action sequences in the past, and action-wise, Ballerina is theoretically in safe hands.
1 Ballerina Needs To Ignore The Continental’s Changes & Reveals
The viewership numbers for The Continental haven’t been revealed by Peacock, but it’s highly unlikely that it has reached anywhere near the numbers that the John Wick movies achieved. As a result, if Ballerina is remotely tied to any of The Continental’s story or changes to the universe, such as the coin press or the Bowery network, audiences could be totally lost. Ballerina needs to tell its own story while being connected enough to John Wick‘s main character. Viewers shouldn’t have to have seen a three-episode Peacock series to understand a big-budget action movie.