Review: The Continental - Limited Series
The three-part series will explore the origin behind the iconic hotel-for-assassins, which is the centerpiece of the John Wick universe. The show will be seen through the eyes of a young Winston Scott, as he’s dragged into the hellscape of 1970s New York City to face a past he thought he’d left behind. Winston charts a deadly course through the hotel’s mysterious underworld in a harrowing attempt to seize the hotel where he will eventually take his throne.
Colin Woodell, Mel Gibson, Mishel Prada, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Nhung Kate, Jessica Allain, Ayomide Adegun, Jeremy Bob & Kate McGrath.
‘The Continental’ is a complete miss of an addition to the John Wick franchise, aiming to explore the backstory of the enigmatic Winston. However, despite some commendable aspects, the show falters in most key areas, leaving fans of the series with extremely mixed feelings.
One of the most immediately noticeable shortcomings is the cinematography. The John Wick films are celebrated for their stunning visual style, with each frame serving as a work of art. In "The Continental," this signature style is notably absent. The camera work lacks the finesse and flair that have become synonymous with the franchise, resulting in a visual experience that feels decidedly lackluster. It's a disservice to the John Wick legacy, where the action sequences and dialogue scenes are usually a feast for the eyes.
Equally disappointing is the screenplay and storytelling. John Wick is known for its tightly woven narratives, but here it meanders with a lack of purpose. The story is often dull and fails to provide the intrigue and excitement that fans have come to expect. At times, it feels as if the series is merely going through the motions, lacking the energy and originality that made the previous installments so compelling. Taking itself far too seriously, expecting us to care about anything happening with characters after sharing 6 scenes with them.
The show's attempt to transport viewers to the 1970s falls flat due to subpar production design and costume choices. The setting never quite comes to life as it should, leaving audiences guessing about the time period. This lack of authenticity detracts from the overall immersion in the story, as it fails to create a convincing world. In one instance, a character seems to be wearing a jacket often worn today, which had me questioning my own understanding of the series coming into it.
Acting across the board is another concern. While Keanu Reeves has set a high standard with his portrayal of John Wick, the cast of "The Continental" fails to match his charisma and screen presence. Performances come across as mediocre and uninspired, failing to engage viewers on an emotional level. It's challenging to invest in the characters when their portrayals lack depth and nuance.
Additionally, the music choices can sometimes be unintentionally humorous, undermining the intended tone of the scenes. The show's attempts at stylistic panache often fall flat, leaving viewers questioning their necessity.
Another puzzling aspect of the series is its very existence. While expansion of the John Wick universe is a tantalizing prospect, the series raises questions about its necessity. It doesn't contribute significantly to the overall narrative, making one wonder why it was created in the first place. As enjoyable as Winston is as a character in the John Wick films, I don’t believe that warrants practically 3 feature films for episode lengths.
Technical issues further hinder the show's impact. Silly editing choices and inconsistent sound design can disrupt the viewing experience, leading to moments of disconnection from the story. Due to this, the pacing is all over the place, making it difficult to invest in any moments whatsoever because all technical aspects are not to the standard it should be.
One of the most perplexing problems is the emotional ambiguity in certain scenes. It's often unclear whether the audience is meant to feel a connection to the characters or if the emotions portrayed are solely for the characters' benefit. This lack of clarity highlights a failure in character development and storytelling, making it challenging to fully invest in the narrative.
On a positive note, the show does manage to uphold the franchise's reputation for well-choreographed fight scenes. These sequences remain a highlight, offering moments of intense action and physical prowess. Especially in its first 15 minutes. The directorial style, while not consistently successful, deserves acknowledgment for its ambition. Some of the most engaging moments in the series are found in the flashbacks to an even younger Winston, offering insight into his character and motivations.
Lastly, the cast's dedication to their roles is evident, with Katie McGrath's performance standing out as a highlight. Her portrayal injects some much-needed energy and charisma into the series. I’m glad to see her in something that will get some more eyes on her after ‘Supergirl’.
In conclusion, "The Continental" falls very short of the lofty standards set by the franchise. While it has moments of promise, it struggles significantly with cinematography, storytelling, and stylistic execution, ultimately leaving viewers with a sense of disappointment. However, die-hard fans of the action genre may still find enjoyment in the well-choreographed fight sequences and the commitment of the cast, particularly Katie McGrath. For most, though, "The Continental" remains a missed opportunity in the John Wick universe. Chad not being a producer tells you everything you need to know.
1.5 / 5