Movie Reviews

Donnie Yens New John Wick Spinoff Puts Even More Pressure On Ballerina

ana de armas as paloma in no time to die and donnie yen as caine in john wick chapter 4 1

The announcement of Donnie Yen’s John Wick spinoff is promising for the franchise’s future, but it also increases the pressure on Ballerina. Despite John Wick seemingly dying in chapter 4, the franchise appears to be showing no signs of slowing down, with Donnie Yen’s spinoff being the latest John Wick project to be revealed. Caine’s role in John Wick: Chapter 4‘s end credits suggested his story with Akira was set to continue, and the confirmation that Donnie Yen will be returning in a new movie is a great sign that the franchise still has plenty of life left in it.

Despite this, John Wick already has an upcoming film in the works starring Ana de Armas, and the pressure now increases on it dramatically. Ballerina will take place before John Wick 4 meaning Reeves will reprise his role, but it still has a lot to prove, even with its star power. The film was initially set to be released in June 2024, but it was delayed to ensure the project was of the best quality possible. This puts a huge spotlight on the film, and with a new project announced before Ballerina‘s release, there is extra pressure to perform.

With Donnie Yen’s spinoff all but confirming the main John Wick story will continue, Ballerina has to prove that the franchise can continue without Keanu Reeves. Although Reeves will be involved in Ballerina, de Armas’ Rooney will be the focal point, meaning she must showcase that there are other characters capable of leading the series. Although there were a lot of comedic aspects involved, de Armas proved her Ballerina capabilities in No Time to Die, revealing that she is perfectly suited to the fast-paced action of the John Wick franchise. However, replacing Reeves’ John Wick won’t be easy.

While there are plenty of interesting characters within the John Wick universe, not everyone is cut out to be the future protagonist. Characters like Winston and Bowery King work great as supporting roles and could produce interesting spinoffs, but they can’t carry the franchise forward. This makes it all the more important that de Armas can sell Rooney as an interesting lead, as she will lay the foundations for Caine and other assassins to become central characters. Reeves’ involvement will help make Rooney’s transition into a protagonist easier, but her performance in Ballerina is critical to the franchise’s future.

Donnie Yen’s spinoff and the delay have both increased the pressure on Ballerina, but it already had the burden of having to overcome The Continental‘s shortcomings. The reviews for The Continental may not have been disastrous, but they definitely came up short compared to the standard expected of the franchise. It was the first John Wick project to not feature Keanu Reeves as the protagonist, and it suffered as a result. The show failed to have a lasting impact, with most viewers moving on quickly from The Continental compared to the usual buzz that centers around John Wick.

Although it didn’t perform great critically, viewership figures were relatively strong for The Continental, but this only makes its lack of talking points even more disappointing. Considering John Wick 4 was dropped earlier in 2023 to a massive reception, The Continental fell flat in comparison. This makes it all the more important that Ballerina‘s delay helps it avoid The Continental‘s problems. If de Armas’ spinoff fails following The Continental‘s underwhelming response, it could be fatal for the franchise’s future. Ballerina must show that John Wick still has potential without its main character and prove that The Continental was a one-off.

Despite the extra pressure Donnie Yen’s spinoff puts on Ballerina, the announcement is actually great news for the film. Considering delays can sometimes indicate production problems for a movie, it seems that Ballerina‘s delay really is down to ensuring high quality. Considering the franchise looks set to continue with the Caine spinoff, the creators clearly want Ballerina to be great in order to set up the future of the John Wick universe. This also suggests that there is clearly a lot of faith in Ballerina, as the project is being trusted to set up the new era of the franchise.

If there wasn’t much confidence in Ballerina, there wouldn’t already be plans for what’s to come next. Instead, the green light for Donnie Yen’s return means Ballerina should put the John Wick universe back on track after The Continental, especially if it’s Keanu Reeves’ final outing as the Baba Yaga. The expectations may be higher than ever now for Ballerina, but the latest announcement hints at the project matching the quality of the main films and setting up a positive future for one of the best ongoing action franchises.