The Continental offers an extended purview into the world of John Wick (2014). Scheduled to premiere on September 22, 2023, on Peacock in the United States and on Prime Video internationally. The underbelly of the world of assassins and those that reign at the table of its conquest and those that gleam even further above it.
While in between there lay safe havens as they were, the respites for the weary in the dark criminal world that the John Wick lore as a franchise has presented. And through that, we have The Continental itself, in both names of the limited three-part event TV show to the building which it represents. Introduced some time ago through the John Wick Franchise. The title of the show itself is “The Continental: From the World of John Wick” and honestly speaking that secondary subhead of a title while attempting to ground the show to where it came from, provides a somewhat boorish marketing need to not allow the show to stand out on its own through name. But that’s just my opinion.
The Continental as it is in the name and initial introduction of the TV show is “cool”. If you’ve got an allure for neo-noir and if you love action-based genres with a sense of the action-based. Well, The Continental showcases how far streaming media has come along, the inherent showcase to watch on a platform versus a network TV show where syndication was the name of the game, but that’s no longer the precedence as audiences have become fickle and less allegiant based on the necessity of cable television. Through that context, The Continental as a show does something uncanny in a three-part episode segment where each “episode” has a run time of 90 minutes or so. Which in effect is a movie in most cases.
With that introduction out of the way of the sorts, the question you need to ask yourself as you’re possibly reading this review of Episode 1: Brothers in Arms – Night 1, “How much do you actually know of The Continental?” And that in part is the folly of the show so far. And perhaps this review is over scrutiny and yet to trust the ion of the story to be completed. By that I mean, we follow the character Winston Scott and if you’ve seen John Wick, you know him to be X, Y, and Z of the John Wick world. For the sake of spoilers, I just won’t say it but his character was originally played by Ian Mcshane in the films and is now acted by Colin Woodell. Why does this context matter though, for not divulging aspects of John Wick?
Because it’s the simple question of how much do you know? And there in Part I found the departure of The Continental to not be fully realized in its own sense after the first episode. It’s a scrutiny of creating a prequel to a billion-dollar movie franchise and the extensions that follow, the continued lore-building of a world that holds complete fascination but also the requirement and responsibility to tell those who have no knowledge of the show’s history itself to be allowed the trust to be taken along for the journey too.
The question of “How much do you know?” to one of “Okay what am I missing here?” becomes an actual gap of idealization.
The Continental visually is stunning, representing an alternative 1970s motif, and is further filled with cinematography that lends cadence to the careful story beats of progression presented. All of which is filled further with a masterful soundtrack which should be a must-list on anyone’s playlist.
The folly I found was the lack of pure setup and introduction to the world it represents. I wonder to that extent what was left on the cutting floor an episode that was cut to 90 minutes. This inherent pretending that the audience who’s watching The Continental is picking up the show for the first time. It’s a curious thought mainly because the showcase for the show could’ve situated itself more strongly. My over-scrutinization comes from the runtime. It’s one thing to have material fit the possible standard length of 50-60 minutes, but Night 1 gives us an almost realized full feature-length film.
So be it the introduction of the new characters, players, story beats, and other aspects of how it all links together or do you apply one singular ground force to push the narrative? And that’s where John Wick succeeded as a film and in its storytelling. They allowed mysticism to be unraveled over each progressive film, but the films should not be a pre-requisite to watching a new TV show, prequel or not.
To that extent, the intrigue of the show is there, the action is there, and the basis of what the journey can be is there. And therein also lies why by the end of The Continental’s tale we see what becomes a further addition to the franchise as a whole. I’m often reminded of the unnecessary need to link or apply connection to what was successful and how it forces a creative narrative that doesn’t become completely its own.
From an episode standpoint, I wanted more substance based on the lore, but my over-scrutiny should and shall be resolved-scrutiny by the end of the journey.
To that for any fan of a noir-based thriller with extreme action laced in the style of John Wick. I recommend watching and discovering for yourself. But the extent of interest isn’t so much the characters thus far as it is the world and what it represents. And that’s where a strong lead character and how that’s interesting can root the storytelling further.
I want more from The Continental, so I hope in the following Nights 2 and 3 – it does exactly that.