First things first, nothing comes close to John Wick’s violent genius. The good thing is that its prequel series, The Continental, doesn’t aim to recreate its violent aura, rather shifting its focus on developing its own set of thematic language through humor, satirical commentary, and an infusion of offbeat characters. The series takes place in the ’70s and follows a young Winston Scott (Colin Woodell) as he attempts to take charge of The Continental chain of hotels from the hands of a brutal mob boss named Cormac (Mel Gibson). Told at a feverish pace, Peacock’s original series can be viewed as a younger, more bubbly cousin to John Wick’s more polished and reserved elder brother, belonging to the same family of violence and crooked creatures.
So if you’re feeling a post-Continental hangover and are craving some glossy, mob-driven stuff, be sure to give the following TV shows and movies a watch.
Atomic Blonde (2017)
Atomic Blonde has a lot of similarities to the John Wick universe, as it was directed by David Leitch, who also served as a producer and co-director (uncredited) on the first John Wick film. Much like The Continental, Atomic Blonde is packed with high-wire action sequences and a large degree of bare-knuckle brutality, making it the perfect choice for a mobster movie marathon.
Sin City (2005)
Similar in regard to theme, and varying in regard to violence, Sin City might be more old-school and conservative in its approach to action, but it belongs to the same ethos as The Continental. The film is based on Frank Miller’s comic book series of the same name and is a visual treat for fans of noir. With an abundance of crooked, eccentric, and hard-boiled characters, Robert Rodriguez’s film is the culmination of a very dark and twisted universe that operates on its own set of moral values.
Mayans M.C (2018-2023)
Mayans M.C charts the return of a former convict and member of the Mayans M.C charter, Ezekiel Reyes, who returns to his hometown wanting a fresh start, but is sucked back into the world of crime. Once a golden boy, on the cusp of living the American Dream, EZ and his brother fall from grace and are ready to go to despicable heights to uncover the truth behind their mother’s murder.
Mob City (2013)
Created by Frank Darabont, Mob City brings Los Angeles of the ’40s to life as he paints a vivid picture of America’s most crooked and violent criminal underbelly and the men who are vying to control it. The show is based on the real-life accounts of gangsters and the law enforcement authorities of the era, and is eerily accurate in its recreation of life in the fast lane in the ’40s.
Set in the suburbs of Naples, Gomorrah provides an insight into the daily workings of one of Italy’s most feared crime organizations, Camorra. Told through the eyes of the right-hand man of the Don, Ciro (Marco D’Amore), Gomorrah paints a dark and torrid picture of the effects that power has on individuals and the incredible lengths men would go to in order to protect it.
Sons of Anarchy (2008-2014)
Sons of Anarchy is a show about an outlaw motorcycle club that’s told in the fifth gear. What makes the show unique is its dark, comical undertones, along with a sense of undying camaraderie that somehow sets the basis for the bloodshed and hardheadedness to fester. With themes of violence, brotherhood, and an abundance of lawlessness, Sons of Anarchy might not be for everyone, but those who have an inclination for life in the fast lane would surely appreciate the show.
While many gangster films take themselves more seriously than necessary, there are some that use humor to paint a picture of how life on the other side of the law can be equally as clumsy as it is calculated. Snatch belongs to the dark-humored breed of films that use comedy as a vehicle to bring out the inherent stupidity of their leading actors, creating a hilarious cacophony of cuss words, bullets, and eye rolls.
Bullet Train (2022)
An underrated action comedy from last year, Bullet Train is very similar to The Continental’s narrative ethos of throwing violent, oddball characters into a situational blender and witnessing the violent mayhem that ensues. Unlike John Wick, which doesn’t have a funny bone in it, Bullet Train uses on-the-nose eccentricity and humor to undercut some of its gruesome action sequences, making it funny and entertaining at the same time.
Peaky Blinders (2013-2023)
Before he morphed into the father of the atomic bomb, he played the leader of one of Britain’s most notorious gangs in the early 1900s. Run entirely on Cillian Murphy’s charm and Steven Knight’s taut narrative, Peaky Blinders transports the viewer straight into the heart of the criminal underbelly of Britain at the start of the 19th century. The show has an abundance of highs and lows, as the Shelby family, led by its enigmatic leader, Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy), navigates their ascension to the top of the country’s criminal food chain.
The Godfather (1972)
Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of Mario Puzo’s novel is considered by some to be the greatest film to have ever been made. A case study into the hardening of the heart, The Godfather is a film about succession, ascension, and a boy becoming a man, told against the backdrop of a big-time gangster family. A case study in acting, direction, and writing, The Godfather is the holy grail of gangster cinema and is essential mobster movie viewing.
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