John Wick: Chapter 4 is coming in 2021, but the cinematic world of assassins will expand even further in a new John Wick spin-off movie. Ballerina, a film which has been in development since 2017, has just found a director in the form of Len Wiseman, the guy behind movies like Underworld and Live Free or Die Hard. Read more about the project below.
According to Deadline, Len Wiseman has been hired to direct Ballerina, a spin-off which “focuses on a young female assassin who seeks revenge against the people who killed her family.” The ballerina character showed up briefly in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum at the academy run by Anjelica Huston’s character The Director, and though she was played by actress Unity Phelan in that movie, it’s unclear if she’ll reprise the role in this spin-off or if the producers will select someone with more acting experience to shoulder that lead role.
John Wick producers Basil Iwanyk and Erica Lee are producing the spin-off, and franchise director Chad Stahelski and star Keanu Reeves are also on board as producers. Whether or not we’ll see Reeves in front of the camera again in a cameo role remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a possibility. Shay Hatten, who co-wrote the screenplay for Parabellum, is writing the Ballerina script solo.
I’ll just come right out and say it: Len Wiseman is a huge downgrade from Chad Stahelski in the directing department. Stahelski, a former stuntman and second unit director, brought his years of hard-hitting experience to bear on this franchise and helped establish a fluid and visceral visual style for these movies that is unmatched in American action cinema. Wiseman made a couple of Underworld movies, an iffy Die Hard sequel, and a totally unnecessary remake of Total Recall. He’s not even in the same ballpark. So even though the concept for this spin-off has some potential, it’s a bummer that it’s in Wiseman’s hands.
The worlds of ballet and assassins have been linked in pop culture for years, in movies ranging from the Avengers films (with Black Widow’s dark past) to Red Sparrow and beyond. John Wick: Chapter 3 continued that trend, with Huston’s character teaching discipline to a new generation of would-be killers, and following one of them on a revenge story sounds like the making of a solid action flick. A fun twist would be if John Wick were the person who killed her family, and she spent the whole movie trying to chase him down and take him out (ala Taken 2), but I’m not sure Reeves would be interested in playing a major role in this spin-off.
Ballerina isn’t the first we’ve heard about a John Wick spin-off. For years there’s been talk about The Continental, a TV series set in the fancy assassin-only hotel chain found located around the globe in the movie’s heightened world, but earlier this summer, we found out that the series probably won’t arrive on Starz until after John Wick: Chapter 4 hits theaters.
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