Set decades before Keanu Reeves embarked on a blood-soaked rampage to avenge the death of his dog, spin-off series The Continental follows a young Winston Scott (now played by Colin Woodell) as he sets out on his own quest for retribution. After his brother (Ben Robson) steals an important artefact from an elite organisation of assassins who operate out of the titular hotel, Winston is forcefully roped in by the hotel’s owner, Cormac (a commanding Mel Gibson) to retrieve it. However, when things go wrong, Winston assembles a ragtag team to fight back.
The series may be set in the same world as John Wick and have some moments of over-the-top fun, however, the show fails to emulate the spark of what made the films work so well.
With John Wick director Chad Stahelski absent from the series, directing duties fall to Albert Hughes and Charlotte Brändström. Although Hughes and Brändström handle the action set-pieces well enough across the course of the series (with there being plenty of gore to satisfy genre fans), the sequences never reach the bombastic heights of their cinematic counterparts. There are even points where a tantalising set piece is dangled in front of viewers only for it to never come to anything. Somewhat making up for the lack of flare is a flavoursome period-appropriate soundtrack crammed with 70s hits from The Who, Heart and Baccara.
The series is also let down with a cumbersome script. A handful of other plotlines coincide with Winston’s mission, most of which feed back into the overarching plot. Others, though, (including a turf war in Chinatown and a budding romance between a sniper and accidental hostage) serve as distractions from the main attraction. Gibson and Woodell’s stellar performances do a lot of the heavy lifting to keep audiences engaged, though this is often not enough.
Given how interesting the criminal underbelly of John Wick is, it’s a puzzling misstep that the show misses the opportunity to build upon its setting. There are glimpses of menacing assassins and mentions of the mysterious High Table, but the show mostly keeps its characters (and consequently viewers) on the border, which may come as a disappointment to fans of the films.
Though the grand action sequences can make for a fun time, the lack of style and world-building causes The Continental to fall short of the mark set by John Wick.
The Continental is released on Prime Video on 22nd September 2023.
Watch the trailer for The Continental here: