The prequel/spin-off to the John Wick movies has an intriguing premise—but it fails to take off. Here’s our review of Prime Video’s The Continental.
It’s hard to believe that a movie about an assassin exacting revenge on the people who killed his dog would become such a success, but here we are, four movies and two spin-offs later. The John Wick universe is filled with crazy action, scheming deadly assassins, and, of course, the indomitable Keanu Reeves, who is perhaps this generation’s ultimate action movie star.
Considering the franchise’s success, spin-offs were inevitable. It was the only way to go after (spoiler alert) Wick’s death in the fourth film, anyway. While a feature film is on the way with Ana De Armas set to star, the first episode of a miniseries revolving around one another prominent character in the universe was just released last week. Prime Video’s The Continental (not to be confused with the breakfast) follows Winston Scott and his eventual rise to become the owner of the eponymous hotel well-known to Wick fans (Wickerians? Wickists? Wickeds?).
The miniseries has in place a story, a setting, and a universe that’s ripe for an entertaining, action-packed romp. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really meet expectations.
[Hero image: Prime Video]
The John Wick spin-off doesn’t really take off. Here’s our review of The Continental.
Set in an alternate 1970s, Winston Scott, played originally by the legendary Ian McShane and portrayed here by Colin Woodell, is having a fantastic time in London only to be kidnapped by Cormac O’Connor unceremoniously. This villainous boss, played by Mel Gibson, is the current proprietor of The Continental, which is vastly different from the hotel it would later on become. It’s grand but sleazy, a great representation of who Cormac is and the transformation it will undergo once Winston becomes boss. Apparently, Winston’s brother, Frankie, made some trouble for Cormac who is now hunting him down. It’s now up to Winston to find his brother before Cormac does.
This is what kicks off the events of the series, which proceeds to wind plotlines, introduce characters, give nods to the films, and even make meta references to Keanu Reeves’ filmography (“We need guns. Lots of guns.”). Wickerians or whatever they’re called will clock a lot of references and nods, which could perhaps provide a measure of delight. But however compelling the story seems to be, and I do think it was at the start, it doesn’t really keep the attention of the viewer.
One of the pitfalls the series has is the number of characters there are in this three-episode miniseries. That’s not necessarily a problem, but the John Wick films ensured its assassin namesake was at the centre of the chaos and action. The Continental, however, jumps around, making the story and characters so much more difficult to track.
Much like the films, action is prominent in The Continental but sadly not as exciting. I get it though. This isn’t a movie and they don’t have the same budget, but it was the gun-fu that I enjoyed in John Wick more than the motorcycle ninja fights. There’s a sequence in the series that does just that which was enjoyable to watch, but sadly, everything else is forgettable.
Two saving graces are found Colin Woodell and Ayomide Adegun who plays Charon, originally played by the late Lance Reddick. Both actors portray the younger versions of characters in the films, and both are able to successfully play their characters as young and somewhat naive while also giving hints of what’s to come without necessarily imitating Ian McShane or Reddick. I would have loved to see more of Winston and Charon’s relationship get fleshed out in the series.
The Continental was supposed to be the miniseries to fill the John Wick-shaped void in fans’ hearts. Unfortunately, it falls flat in doing that. Though there are great performances, especially from its lead star; the start of an intriguing story; and the promise of action sequences that will keep you on the edge of your seat, The Continental doesn’t really take off.
The Continental is now streaming on Prime Video.