a suited white man holds up a small black tool
Credit: IMDb

The Keanu Reeves-led action-thriller film franchise John Wick heads to the small screen with The Continental, a three-part television event. The miniseries, set in the 1970s—50 years before the events of the John Wick films—chronicles the ongoings of a prolific hotel for assassins as seen through the eyes of a young Winston Scott (Colin Woodell). Seeking revenge on the hotel’s sadistic, fanatical proprietor Cormac (Mel Gibson), Winston recruits an unlikely bunch of assorted criminals and weapons experts to lay siege on the seemingly impenetrable Continental Hotel. 

Though the idea of a hotel for assassins certainly has more than enough juice to sustain an entire spinoff series, The Continental feels stilted by its strange, three-episode hour-and-a-half structure. Too short to truly explore the emotional inner workings of its many broody protagonists and too long to be a fun, punchy action-thriller set to a soundtrack of 70s hits, the series maintains the franchise’s signature eye for action but struggles to string together a cohesive and emotionally resonant story.

Certainly, though, the thoughtfully choreographed and well-shot fight sequences punch up an otherwise run-of-the-mill crime thriller, and standout performances from Jessica Allain, Adam Shapiro, Marina Mazepa, and Ray McKinnon hint at glimmers of personality that would’ve thrived under a more conventional episodic TV structure. Unfortunately, strong performances are few and far between in this slightly-too-large ensemble cast, spearheaded by a lackluster Woodell and an erratic, bizarre turn from Gibson.

Still, the action sequences are undeniably impressive (especially considering the scope of the series), and the 70s setting adds much-welcome sparks of musical and aesthetic fare, even if the script leaves much to be desired. Though it pales in comparison to its parent films, The Continental maintains the classic John Wick house style and is sure to sate the appetites of franchise devotees. TV-MA, three hour-and-a-half-long episodes.


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