The Continental’ Review :”The “John Wick” movie franchise, which stars Keanu Reeves as the most lasting hitman in the world, is distinguished by its emphasis on aesthetics, complex systems, and painstakingly planned action sequences. These movies showcase Reeves’ recognizable features against cinematography that evokes a teenager’s vivid nightmares while exposed to black light. “
They combine gangster drama honor rules with medieval fantasy ceremonial components, all of which are emphasized by nonstop action scenes in which Keanu Reeves moves with the methodical precision of a master chef repeatedly cooking his unique dish. Those who are seduced by this unusual fusion of feelings and emotions have developed a devoted following.
One of these movies’ assets, under the direction of Chad Stahelski (who collaborated with David Leitch on the first “John Wick”), is their subtle humor, which is frequently but not exclusively expressed through images. Reeves, Ian McShane, Lance Reddick, Laurence Fishburne, Anjelica Huston, and Willem Dafoe are among the outstanding ensemble cast members who expertly modify their performances to fit the stylised material.
The primary “John Wick” sequels seem to have come to an end with the events of “John Wick: Chapter 4,” but the franchise is already moving in new ways. In the upcoming year, a spinoff movie focusing on a different character will be released. A prequel mini-series called “The Continental” has also debuted on the Peacock streaming platform. Even though the series’ official title is “The Continental: From the World of John Wick,” it seems to come from a different creative universe.
But “The Continental” fails to live up to expectations, largely because of its writing. Greg Coolidge, Ken Kristensen, Shawn Simmons, and Kirk Ward (with various writers credited on each episode) wrote the scripts for the series, which mainly relies on dialogue but falls short of Derek Kolstad’s writing for the films in terms of being succinct and aphoristic.
With characters being burdened with formulaic and virtue-signaling backstories that lack the immediate, emotionally charged effect of Wick’s tribulations in the films, the core theme of revenge, a defining feature of the John Wick universe, is diminished.
This film’s production, which uses real-world settings and soundstages in and around Budapest to portray a grimy, trash-filled New York City in the 1970s, also contributes to its failure. The Continental is an expensive underground hotel and neutral zone located in New York City’s Financial District that serves as a kind of Soho House for off-duty assassins and bounty hunters.
In “The Continental,” we see Winston Scott, the future owner, who is presented as a young hustler involved in a power struggle with Cormac, the former owner, who is portrayed by Mel Gibson in the movies and Colin Woodell in the television series.
The complicated plot follows Winston as he assembles a group of outsiders to exact revenge on his brother, reclaim a rare stolen relic, and take over the hotel. The action takes place in clichéd and unimaginative settings including the waterfront, Chinatown, Alphabet City, and the Bowery, all of which were laboriously created but lacked creative flair.
Story elements are highlighted with a deliberate choice of 1970s music standards (Heart, Chicago, Gerry Rafferty, etc.), and vintage details like an Alka-Seltzer advertisement, a “Coffy” poster, Pong, and allusions to blaxploitation kung fu movies and “The Day of the Jackal” are incorporated for nostalgic effect. The movement on the screen is vibrant, but nothing has a lasting effect.
Although the cast is full with brilliant and attractive people, their performances are let down by a certain flatness. Although competent, Woodell and Ayomide Adegun, who plays future Continental concierge Charon, lack the unique flavor that McShane and Reddick gave to their characters in the movies.
Gibson, although being given the most credit, gives a one-dimensional performance of gruff irritation without evoking real menace. A few actors manage to stand out, like Ray McKinnon as a folksy sniper, Jessica Allain as a softer version of a Tamara Dobson-style martial-arts warrior, and Mark Mazepa as spooky, doll-like Teutonic murderers.
The most obvious and significant aesthetic similarity between “The Continental” and the “Wick” series is the requirement that each victim of the ritualistic violence be shot at least twice. Beyond this, though, the series falls short. While effective, the action choreography lacks the ingenuity and clarity needed to turn violence into a visual and emotional catharsis, much like the impact of songs in an engaging musical. “The Continental” has not yet explored this world.