Reporter Brontë H. Lacsamana
Several months have passed since the fourth and seemingly last installment of the John Wick movies was released. However, fans who are craving for more intense action in their lives may find an unexpected and unlikely replacement.
Unfortunately, The Continental: From the World of John Wick is not a continuation of the franchise and does not feature the iconic Keanu Reeves as its protagonist. Instead, this TV spin-off, set in the 1970s and consisting of only three episodes, explores the backstory of the Continental hotel in New York, which is a neutral territory for Wick and other assassins.
Many may assume that a brief trilogy centered on this unique criminal world would not captivate the same audience as the original films. However, it is in fact a well-crafted and trendy production. Developed by Greg Coolidge, Shawn Simmons, and Kirk Ward, The Continental masterfully tackles the challenge by incorporating a complex storyline involving strong themes of family and allegiance, accompanied by a diverse and intriguing ensemble.
If you were captivated by the luxurious assassin’s hotel in the movie John Wick, you will definitely appreciate the mini-series. It delves into the origins of the Continental hotel and its owners, Winston Scott (portrayed by Ian McShane) and Charon (played by Lance Reddick).
In this scenario, Colin Woodell and Ayomide Adegun portray the younger versions of themselves and face the task of dethroning the 1970s-era owner, Cormac, who is portrayed by famous actor Mel Gibson.
Mr. Woodell effectively imitates McShane’s smooth and articulate voice, portraying a young Winston as a sophisticated London con artist who is back in his hometown of New York. On the other hand, Adegun’s portrayal of young Charon lacks the same distinct presence as Reddick’s, but he does justice to his role as an immigrant struggling at the Continental.
The drama begins when Winston’s estranged sibling, Frankie (played by Ben Robson), successfully steals the hotel’s old coin press, which is utilized for creating their covert currency. As a former soldier turned gang enforcer, Frankie easily fills the role of Wick in this franchise. The initial extended fight scene during the heist and subsequent getaway highlights his impressive skills in delivering an intense action sequence.
Later on, Cormac is compelled to seek assistance from Winston in locating his brother and the coin press, which holds great significance for influential figures in the criminal world. Under pressure, Mr. Gibson’s Cormac becomes aggressive and takes on exaggerated characteristics akin to those of a villain on television (for better or for worse).
The rest of the cast, including Jessica Allain as a skilled martial artist with a compassionate side, Ray McKinnon as a quirky yet isolated sharpshooter, and Marina Mazepa and Mark Musashi as a strange duo of killer twins who are both doll-like and lethal, all deliver strong performances.
Unfortunately, the presence of Katie McGrath’s Adjudicator in a mask gives off the impression that she is simply cosplaying as a character from a video game. This is further emphasized by her cliché and enigmatic dialogue. Together, McGrath’s Adjudicator and Mr. Gibson’s Cormac may be considered the weakest antagonists in the entire John Wick franchise.
In terms of fight sequences, The Continental pays homage to the way films utilize settings as weapons (such as the hall of mirrors). In this instance, a rundown movie theater becomes the unpredictable battleground for one of the many conflicts. The hand-to-hand combat scenes are also well-executed and feature impressive stunts.
Simply being average is not enough, especially when compared to the successful franchise of John Wick: Chapter 4. The lackluster gun showdowns are the main issue here. While the fight sequences are well-executed, they fail to capture the intense release of emotion that the violence in the John Wick movies does.
The miniseries effectively captures the atmosphere of 1970s crime dramas. Taking place in post-Vietnam War New York City, the central characters are deeply affected by their experiences in combat, causing them to engage in acts of violence for the sake of loyalty.
The content appears more grave than the John Wick movies, but it does not manage to increase the same level of thrill due to the overly complex storyline hindering it.
The Continental is a visually interesting, somewhat moody period piece that boasts great style and technicality. It’s supported by an oddball cast of characters and a fun soundtrack full of soul and disco classics of the era. Most important of all, it’s tightly woven, making sure that people won’t get bored settling for the four-hour romp while waiting for more John Wick to come.