In the heart of the John Wick cinematic universe lies The Continental, a three-part series that takes us on a prequel journey through the gritty underbelly of 1970s New York City. While this spin-off series doesn't demand encyclopaedic knowledge of the four John Wick movies that preceded it, it undoubtedly inherits the relentless action and vengeful spirit that has defined the franchise. But does it manage to shine as brilliantly as its predecessor?
At the centre of this narrative is a young Winston Scott, portrayed by Colin Woodell, who steps into the shoes of the character originally played by Ian McShane. Woodell's portrayal exudes confidence and conviction, a worthy embodiment of the man Winston becomes in the John Wick movies. It's a testament to his acting prowess that he seamlessly carries the torch of this iconic character.
As we delve into the series, we witness Winston's tumultuous journey towards seizing the hotel that would eventually become his throne. The show, thankfully, doesn't rush this evolution. Each of the three episodes is generously long, turning the viewing experience into an event worth savouring. With all episodes surpassing an hour in length and the finale clocking in at a gripping 90 minutes, The Continental ensures that it's not just a show to binge but a saga to be savoured.
One of the standout performances in this series comes from none other than Mel Gibson, who takes on the role of Cormac O'Connor, the enigmatic overseer of The Continental hotel during the turbulent '70s. Gibson channels his most ruthless and intimidating on-screen persona, delivering a performance that keeps you on edge throughout all three episodes.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of The Continental is its unwavering dedication to replicating the visual style, tone, and energy of the John Wick movies. From the signature neon-soaked aesthetics to the heart-pounding action sequences, this series is a true extension of the cinematic universe. The core theme of revenge, while seemingly straightforward, adds layers of complexity and mystery to the narrative, keeping viewers on their toes.
When it comes to action, The Continental does not hold back. Each episode treats us to intense battles, showcasing brutal hand-to-hand combat, chaotic gunfights, and jaw-dropping showdowns. While the first episode primarily lays the groundwork for the story, the second episode is where character development takes centre stage as Winston assembles his team. It's here that we get to know the supporting cast, and the series shines in its portrayal of charismatic characters. However, amid the captivating character arcs, The Continental occasionally stumbles. Some subplots, like the one involving a brother-sister duo owning a dojo, feel like distracting detours that ultimately lead nowhere. Similarly, a side storyline featuring neighbourhood muscle feels inconsequential to the overarching narrative, leaving viewers with a sense of missed opportunities.
Setting The Continental in 1970s New York City was a masterstroke. The show nicely captures the city's notorious reputation for crime and chaos during that era. The result is a dark and foreboding atmosphere reminiscent of Gotham City from DC Comics, enhancing the series' overall appeal. Costume and hairstyling play a pivotal role in immersing us in the '70s ambience. Assassins residing at The Continental Hotel sport groovy outfits, and their charismatic personas make them a delight to watch. Moreover, the show's music selection is a highlight, with retro tracks featuring R'n'B, classic rock, punk rock, funk, and disco. These songs punctuate the mood of each gunfight and confrontation perfectly, adding depth to the viewing experience.
As the series progresses, it steadily builds tension and suspense. While I had a chance to binge all three at once, it became roughly like a four-and-a-half-hour movie. However, the weekly episodic format promises to be tantalising in its own right. Each episode contributes to character development, story progression, and thrilling action sequences, making the wait between episodes an enticing experience.
The Continental: From The World Of John Wick successfully captures the unrelenting action and vengeful spirit of the original film franchise. Woodell and Gibson deliver standout performances, with Woodell embodying Winston's character with confidence and charm, and Gibson presenting a formidable adversary. This three-night event offers the same chaos and ferocity that fans have come to love from the John Wick films while also providing intriguing insights into the enigmatic hotel manager's origins.
- The Continental: From The World Of John Wick
- Starring Colin Woodell, Ben Robson, Mel Gibson, Mishel Prada
- Developed by Greg Coolidge, Kirk Ward and Shawn Simmons
- Now streaming on Prime Video