When reflecting on the straightforward enjoyments found in the “John Wick” films, character growth and intricate backstory typically rank quite low on the priority scale. Yet, in the realm of streaming, there’s a distinct inclination towards verbosity, a trait abundantly present in “The Continental: From the World of John Wick.”
This handsomely crafted but ultimately superfluous prequel miniseries on Peacock features a conspicuous Keanu Reeves-shaped void. Taking place in the 1970s, this three-part venture (although the time required might be a tad misleading, given that each installment runs well over an hour) finds its greatest thrill in the astutely curated soundtrack of the era.
These songs effectively establish the atmosphere of a gritty, enigmatic New York in the midst of the disco era. Frankly, it’s these tunes, such as Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” that contribute as much to the appeal of “The Continental” as the action sequences reminiscent of John Wick, making it worth a visit, if not an entire viewing.
The primary challenge likely lies in the storyline, which delves into the hotel sanctuary for assassins, the enigmatic group called the High Table, and the character of hotel owner Winston Scott (portrayed by Ian McShane in the films), portrayed in this series by Colin Woodell.
This younger incarnation of Winston is primarily focused on his own entrepreneurial pursuits when his battle-tested brother, Frankie (played by Ben Robson), pilfers an item from the High Table. This triggers an extensive and intricately choreographed skirmish of the punch-and-shoot variety.
In a bid to locate Frankie, the High Table and Cormac, the proprietor of the Continental (played by Mel Gibson), resort to abducting him. Gibson brings a touch of recognizable star power to the show, but the drawback is that his oddly accented, over-the-top performance proves to be distractingly subpar.
Confronted by such formidable opponents, Winston must seek out allies. However, the narrative intricacies of gathering his allies often seem somewhat like a means of passing time before reaching the next action sequence, which, in all honesty, is the primary draw.
In reality, the broader “Wick” universe doesn’t appear to offer a particularly captivating appeal. Although the series introduces some compelling characters – with Yen (portrayed by Nhung Kate) arguably standing out, often resorting to punching her way out of perilous situations – the supporting cast from the “John Wick” franchise, including familiar figures like Charon (previously portrayed by the late Lance Reddick in the movies, and now by Ayomide Adegun), doesn’t receive sufficient screen time to generate substantial interest in an origin story.
A brawl with a contortionist certainly injects a unique twist into the proceedings (quite literally). Additionally, the choice to enlist the hotel’s unconventional staff to chase after Winston, coupled with a nod to “The Matrix,” provides a glimpse of the show’s playful and somewhat quirky nature. Premium-TV norms extend to the use of language, the intensity of violence, and even aspects of sexuality, the latter being a pursuit that understandably hasn’t had much focus in the films.
However, despite the abundance of action, “The Continental” ultimately appears to lack significant firepower. Undoubtedly, for a streaming platform like Peacock (which plans to release the show over three consecutive weeks), capitalizing on the “John Wick” brand is a straightforward decision, even if this period series comes with a relatively hefty price tag.
However, after exploring the offerings, any initial curiosity and novelty that “The Continental” might have held quickly wane. As a result, the idea of making future reservations with Peacock should probably be postponed for the time being.
How to Watch The Continental
Where is “The Continental: From the World of John Wick” available for viewing? You can catch it on Peacock. Simply register for a Peacock account to begin streaming. Explore the comprehensive list of compatible streaming devices for more details.