So, did we need a prequel show to the John Wick series? Well, The Continental answers that at least in its first night premiere. The series follows Winston from the movies, as he rises to the owner and operator of The Continental hotel. It takes the modern-day setting of the Wick films and transfers it back to the 1970s in New York. Colin Woodell takes over as Winston Scott from Ian McShane. It also stars Mel Gibson as Cormac, the current owner and operator of The Continental Hotel. Ayomide Adegun takes over as Charon, and it also features Mishel Prada, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Jessica Allain, Nhung Kate, Jeremy Bobb, Adam Shapiro, Katie McGrath, and Ben Robson as Winston’s brother, Frankie.
Right from the opening scene, this is still very much a John Wick production. Some of the henchmen even run like Keanu Reeves does with a gun, so that’s probably something they teach in assassin school. The setting and time period help with the overall proceedings, giving it a distinct look and feel that doesn’t step on the toes of the films. This still is a narratively-driven episodic limited series and not a movie. The first episode runs about 90 minutes, but it never feels like a film cut into parts.
The Continental lays a lot of the backstory down for these characters new and old. These new characters all feel well-lived and especially Cormac, have skeletons in their closet that drive their actions. That, combined with a deceptively simple premise, and some excellent action, make The Continental a must-watch for John Wick fans.
Action, Action, Emotion, And Then More Action
Once you get past the opening scene, The Continental barrages you with action scenes interspersed with scenes of genuine emotion and character building. This isn’t just some shameless ripoff. They’re actually setting out to expand the lore of the series. It’s refreshing to see that it’s not just some cash-grab playing off the big-name franchise. Seeing The Continental and Winston before its current incarnation is fascinating. The endless party atmosphere and more laissez-faire attitude from Cormac starkly contrasts with how Winston runs the place in the movies.
The only thing that I can say about The Continental that just doesn’t work is the editing in an action scene near the end of this first episode. It switches from the traditional editing style that you know from action movies of today, to something that’s choppier and almost resembles comic book panels. The scene in question is a car chase, and it’s a jarring switch in style. The rest of the episode isn’t edited this way, so I’m not sure if it was a stylistic choice or what.
Overall, The Continental lives up to the lofty expectations of the John Wick series. It has all the gun-fu that you know and love but also dives deeper into characters we thought we knew well. We’ll have to see where the story goes from here, though. It’s got all the makings of an explosive finale of episodes. If you’re looking for some excellent action set-pieces and story, The Continental is for you.
The Continental Night One premieres on Peacock on Friday, September 22nd.
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