The Continental Review: The Continental, a three-part miniseries, arrives as the first spinoff from the John Wick universe, a prequel in itself that isn't about how eponymous John Wick became the feared Baba Yaga (don't worry, we are going to get that soon enough, any bets?). In fact, the series is not even about how The Continental became the intriguing neutral haven for assassins from all over the world to gather and relax, without the need to take each other's lives. The series actually serves as an origin story for Winston Scott (played by Ian McShane in the movies) and how he came to manage the New York property within The Continental chain. Keanu Reeves Wanted His Character To Be 'Definitively Killed' In John Wick 4 As He Was 'Emotionally and Physically' Exhausted.
Set in the '70s, The Continental - From the World of John Wick revolves around two estranged brothers, Winston (played by Colin Woodell), and his elder sibling Frankie (portrayed by Ben Robson), who harbor an old vendetta against the egomaniac Cormac (played by Mel Gibson), the current manager of The Continental. When Frankie steals the unique coin-pressing machine from Cormac's vault, Winston is dragged from London to lure Frankie out.
The story also introduces a set of other characters whose arcs are interwoven in this revenge saga. These include siblings Miles (Hubert Point-Du Jour) and Lou (Jessica Allain), who Winston seeks help from, Yen (Nhung Kate), who happens to be Frankie's wife, and KD (Mishel Prada), a police detective with her own mysterious mission, snooping around The Continental. There's also Charon, played by the late Lance Reddick in the John Wick films and portrayed here by Ayomide Adegun, who is already serving as the concierge of The Continental.
Watch the Trailer of The Continental:
The Continental boasts nearly everything one would expect from a property stemming from the John Wick IP. It offers intriguingly lit interior sets, an assortment of villains and assassins with various shapes, sizes, and quirks (including twins named Hansel and Gretel), and an abundance of action scenes that are both brutal and gory.
However, what's conspicuously absent is John Wick himself, which is a significant omission. Even as the John Wick universe expanded in sometimes absurd ways—public shootouts in famous places that somehow didn't attract police attention—it all originated from one man's quest for vengeance over a dead dog and a stolen car. Be it The Continental or The High Table, the latter also making its presence felt in the series, led by Katie McGrath's partially masked character The Adjudicator, they all sprouted out from that single core. John Wick Chapter 4 Movie Review: Keanu Reeves Impresses for the Fourth Time in This High-Adrenaline Actioner with Masterful Stuntwork!
The problem with The Continental lies in its protagonist. While Winston was a fine supporting player in the movies, he doesn't emerge as a compelling protagonist to rally behind, despite Woodell's best efforts. His dynamics with his newly recruited team to take on Cormac and The High Table remind you of The Boys, and that's a drawback for the show, as the Amazon Prime series handles that dynamic more effectively.
Even in terms of production, The Continental doesn't consistently capture the John Wick quality. There are numerous attempts to give the series a unique personality within its '70s setting, but the color palette often struggles to break free from the cliched earthy brown tones typically associated with the era. I sorely missed the visual framing of the action scenes seen in the movies, which were another highlight apart from Keanu Reeves, and something the series clearly lacks. Here, the stunt choreography is fine, but there is no distinct personality that makes any fight scenes memorable enough.
Nevertheless, the cast performs adequately, even though they are somewhat restricted by characters that don't allow them to explore interesting directions. It also doesn't help that when The Continental delves into heist territory, there are already shows and movies that execute it more effectively. Despite the controversial casting of Mel Gibson as the primary antagonist, his nefarious villain isn't given much depth to own the scene, acting like a evil baddie because he is assigned to act like one.
Hollywood seems to have forgotten the art of subtlety, with franchises like Star Wars turning every subplot into a separate movie or series and Barbie being transformed into a sprawling multi-film IP. Unfortunately, for John Wick IP, The Continental fails to present a compelling counter-argument for its existence. It stands as the weakest link in the John Wick universe, lacking a character as dynamic as Reeves' almost-infallible hero leading the way. The Continental is available for streaming on Prime Video.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Sep 21, 2023 06:53 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).