The Continental Season 1 Review – Doesn’t quite match up to its illustrious cinematic provenance

Doesn’t quite match up to its illustrious cinematic provenance

Season 1

 

 

Episode Guide

Episode 1 |-  Rating – 3.5/5
Episode 2 – |  Rating – 2.5/5
Episode 3 – | Rating – 3/5

 

The Continental: From the World of John Wick was hotly anticipated since the announcement. It was no surprise then that it became Paramount’s most streamed mini-series of 2023 through its three-week run. The series is also available to watch on Prime Video for international viewers.

The Continental is three episodes and four and a half hours long. It is too short to be called a television series and perhaps too long to be called a film. The Continental hangs somewhere in between. I am not sure if that is intentional but I certainly believe it is part of the larger creative confusion of the creators.

While inspiration from the “John Wick world” is evident, The Continental lacks its gun-fu, action-filled virtuoso. The story elements are mostly similar but Greg Coolidge and Co. also endeavour to stylize it in their own way. The focus is deliberately on creating a structure of continuity. And it is understandable given the format. We hardly have any abrupt breaks as the plot comes full circle from beginning to end. The Continental is also bolder in creating character arcs and emotional recitals, something we haven’t seen too much in the films. However, with the territory of spin-offs and adapting material comes a standard that has to be adhered to. 

Do you try something different and stray away from the classics? Or do you stick to the formula that made your existence possible? In this instance, this hesitance leads to a lot of missteps and eventually prevents the narrative from ever being streamlined. The large ensemble almost compels the writers to carve out unnecessary and ineffective subplots that take the attention away from the main conceit: how Winston Scott took over The Continental. There are way too many distractions in such a small instalment for any proper storyline to emerge.

Some slick action sequences in the John Wick style feature sparingly in the first and the last episode. But that is the full extent of it. The soundtrack, on the other hand, is special and replete with peppy numbers that elevate the mood. They work very well in propping up the storytelling when it needs energy and intent. 

The Continental begins with a robbery enacted by Frankie Scott, a Vietnam war veteran and Winston’s resourceful and fearless elder brother. He steals what is the most dear to Cormac O’Connor, the belligerent and ruthless owner of The NY Continental: an ancient coin press. It is the fulcrum that holds the weight of the institution on the hierarchy, the former being The High Table. Cormac grows restless as the pressure piles on him. He kidnaps Winston Scott from London to answer for his brother’s crimes. 

The Scotts have not been too involved in each other’s lives since they parted ways to embrace different worlds. But the brotherly feeling still remains and flourishes once again as Winston tracks down Frankie eventually. Cormac’s endless pursuit forces Frankie to sacrifice himself and save Winston and Yen, Frankie’s beloved wife whom he met as she tried to blow up a military establishment and herself. That is when the duo joins hands with old associates of Frankie, Lou and Miles, who run their father’s dojo in Chinatown. Winston promises to exact revenge on Cormac by planning and executing a takeover, as each new thread of the story unravels secrets from the past. 

Apart from the creative crisis, The Continental has all the essentials to serve as a worthy franchise instalment to invest fans in world-building. The sense is clear from the first episode itself, which is arguably the best one of the lot. The production to bring New York of the 70s alive is a special effort. The city is authentically reimagined but its portrayal misses the underpinnings of social and economic dynamics. Perhaps the creators could not afford to be so expansive. It is ironic that almost every pitfall harkens back to the lack of time more than anything else. Fitting so much together must have been a challenging task.

But the “misses” are limited tactfully so as to not be overbearing. In the traditions of the John Wick films, quirky self-serving characters like Hensel & Gretel are entertaining. But beyond them, you doubt if the creators really had a concrete plan. The spectrum feels incomplete and that is indeed frustrating. Mel Gibson’s surge in the finale is too late to arrive. This once again taps into the two larger fundamental problems with the mini-series – time and focus. Winston does not feature as prominently as Colin Woodell would have expected while reading the script. Mishel Prada’s KD is inserted into the thick of things without notice and context. Some more minutes to manifest her suffering would have made her motivations more affecting.

Despite being brother-sister, Lou and Miles seem disconnected from each other. They do not share enough scenes together to establish an emotional connection. However, as standalone characters, they are played exceedingly well by Jessica Allain and Hubert Point-Du Jour.

Overall, it is difficult to shrug off the gnawing feeling that The Continel is a missed opportunity.  While it has all the essentials to invest audiences and entertain, certain characterizations of story and creative decisions end up playing spoilsport. 


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  • Verdict - 6/10
    6/10
6/10

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