Directed by: Albert Hughes
Distributed by: Peacock
Written by Alexander Reams
The John Wick universe has teased many forms of expansion, from the one-off side characters to the cathedral-sized jazz club shown once in the first film and never heard from again. That club is located within a building synonymous with Baba Yaga’s favorite fixer, The Continental. The hotel has been a character of its own since the first outing nearly 10 years ago. After a COVID-delayed production, and a change in distributors (Lionsgate’s Starz was originally set to distribute), the final product has been delivered, albeit with the worst PR campaign of any John Wick Universe property, the show was marketed through very ugly promotional stills and horrendous poster art, and unfortunately, that might have been warranted.
“The Continental” is not “John Wick” in the 1970s, and unfortunately even marketing the show with his name on the marquee invites that speculation and assumption. It’s even more fair to assume this after the first 10 minutes wherein a “John Wick” style action sequence takes place, with the beautiful fight and gunplay choreography, and the trademark style of framing so that the fights are coherent. It’s a lovely start, and introduction to Frankie Scott (Ben Robson), who is the brother of Winston Scott (Colin Woodell), if Winston rings a bell, he’s performed by the lovely Ian McShane in the “Wick” films. Woodell evokes what would become McShane’s performance, however, the disconnect that prequel casting typically concocts is there. At times it’s believable that Woodell would mature and grow into McShane but as its own, he plays his part as best as he can. Winston is on a new level of cool in 1970s London, talking millionaires out of their fortunes until he’s smash n’ grabbed, and taken to New York by Cormac (Mel Gibson, doing the hammiest Bronx accent imaginable) and is told to find his brother (Frankie) “or else.”
“The Continental” is not only focused on Winston, there are also several other stories set up throughout the feature-length episode, newly minted NYPD Detective KD (Mishel Prada) has an “experience” at the hotel, a wonderful vignette of tension and anxiety that Director Albert Hughs expertly captures and Miles (Herbert Point-Du Jour) and Lou (Jessica Allan) are doing their best to keep their father’s dojo afloat in the midst of a workers strike through gun running. Winston crosses paths with the latter pair and finally builds allies in New York, and by the end of this extended television episode, it’s clear that “The Continental” is definitely not John Wick, but it has its own vision for its story, despite its very unfocused feeling until about an hour in, when Robson and Woodell finally have an actual scene together, the show comes alive and from there, and Night 1 only gets better.
“The Continental” Trailer