John Wick Spin-Off Unveils a Fresh New Direction — And a Controversial Villain
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
The John Wick series has never been shy about its influences. There are glimmers of spaghetti westerns, Hong Kong actioners, and ‘70s crime thrillers in the four-film saga. Writer-director Chad Stahleski is an outspoken fan of films like Bullitt and The Warriors, and it’s turned these underdog revenge thrillers into slick homages chock full of fun Easter eggs.
That ‘70s influence is set to continue in The Continental, a prequel series that will explore the origins of the eponymous hotel and its enigmatic manager, Winston Scott. While Ian McShane brought the character to life in the films, The Continental will turn the clock back to 1970s New York, before a younger Winston (Colin Woodell) came into possession of the establishment.
The three-part event follows Winston on a quest to seize The Continental from its current management. But it’ll involve a dangerous trek into his past, a run-in with an estranged brother (Ben Robson), and a deal with a notorious king pin (Mel Gibson). Check out the trailer below.
The Continental is taking clear inspiration from the blaxploitation flicks and martial arts sagas that defined the era. It’s great to see that the franchise is leaning away from the glossy thrills that made John Wick: Chapter 4 such a feast for the eyes. If you’re going to explore the ‘70s, you might as well make it pulpy — and the Peacock series seems poised to deliver on that front.
The Continental producer on the Mel Gibson casting
There’s one other influence that may give John Wick fans pause, and that comes with the addition of Mel Gibson. Executive producers Basil Iwanyk and Albert Hughes are both big fans of Gibson’s early work; Hughes himself cited that as his motive for casting the actor in The Continental, despite the controversy Gibson’s courted since.
“I’m not here to answer for his personal life,” Hughes told Inverse at San Diego Comic-Con. “For me, it was the film history and the catalog ... what I grew up with, and what I love from Road Warrior and Ransom and Braveheart. I’m like, “This guy is perfect for the role,” and everyone will understand why he's perfect for this role when they see [the series].”
For years, Gibson was one of the most influential figures in action. But in the mid-2000s, the actor made a series of racist and homophobic remarks, while abuse allegations were also levied against him. But even after public opinion soured against the actor, he’s continued to appear in straight-to-streaming actioners like Hot Seat and Force of Nature. Gibson has steadily been making his way back to the mainstream recently, and The Continental may be his most high profile project in years. Hughes seems confident in his choice to cast Gibson, but it remains an unavoidable elephant in the room for an otherwise promising series.