Following the success of the John Wick saga, here comes the series The Continental : from the World of John Wick, named after the New York hotel that welcomes criminals from all over the world. When producers at Thunder Road Pictures and Lionsgate understood the incredible potential of the universe created by Derek Kolstad, its development became their priority. They chose to begin with a prequel that chronicles young Wiston's rise to the helm of the hotel. Its form: a mini-series in three parts of approximately 90 minutes each. Does the result live up to the expectations of Jhon Wick fans? Here is my review, guaranteed spoiler-free.
The series tells the story of Winston Scott's youth in New York in the 70s and his rise to fame. Setting this story in the 70s is THE good idea. This gives this series a magnificent aesthetic and musical universe. The casting is up to par. Colin Woodell plays young Winston with class. Ayomide Adegun gives the young concierge Charon an interesting sensitivity. Mel Gibson plays the hotel manager with a disturbing and murderous madness, reminiscent of Riggs in the Lethal Weapon saga. New people appear and fit perfectly into this universe.
Regarding the direction, the series is a continuation of the John Wick films with fight scenes that are still impressive, careful aesthetics, photography, costumes, art design, and a good soundtrack. The series was filmed in Budapest, which shows that the technicians from Eastern countries, including the director of photography, are at the level of their American colleagues. These three films are peppered with references to the initial saga, but also to Tarantino, Scorsese... The novelty lies in the integration of the blaxploitation movement, with director Albert Hughes at the helm, at ease with this theme of his. He co-directed with his twin brother Allen, Menace II Society, From Hell, The Book of Eli. Charlotte Brandstrom, a Franco-Swedish director who crossed the Atlantic, directs episode 2. They fulfill their mission.
The problem with this three-part or three-night miniseries lies in the script. The three films are very unequal. In the first episode, apart from the beginning and the end, boredom sets in quickly because the setup is laborious, too drawn out. None of the characters appear endearing. Neither the action nor the emotion are there. Direction, aesthetics and music cannot fill the void. The second episode allows you to become attached to the characters and the dramaturgy is better. There are issues. The plan is put into place. The third episode is the most successful and has the most action scenes.
The tone of the series balances between hyper-realism of fight scenes, comedy and philosophical lines from a bistro counter. The soundtrack is great but the songs flatly illustrate the scenes. There is also a strong difference in sound level between the dialogue scenes and the scenes with music. Some processes become artificial through their repetition. As in John Wick, there is, in each episode, a scene of great violence, purely gratuitous, and a scene linked to religion in order to appear subversive. As in John Wick, an accumulation of good ideas like that of the Dojo does not make a good scenario. Some are even so disconnected that they become ridiculous, like the Japanese mask of the adjudicator, coming from the Joker from Batman.
The question then arises of the universe created by Derek Kolstad. A universe of assassins to say what? If The Sopranos is a major series, it is because beyond a series about the mafia, their creator David Chase tells the story of America in the 2000s, through the prism of an Italian-American family, and the limits of the American dream. John Wick fans and those who want to see a violent action series will be satisfied. But for those like me who expect more from a series, The Continental is disappointing, even though the potential was there.
The three-part event will explore the origin behind the iconic hotel-for-assassins centerpiece of the John Wick universe through the eyes and actions of a young Winston Scott, as he’s dragged into the Hell-scape of 1970’s New York City to face a past he thought he’d left behind. Winston charts a deadly course through the hotel’s mysterious underworld in a harrowing attempt to seize the hotel where he will eventually take his future throne.
John Wick : Le Continental
Based on John Wick from Derek Kolstad
Developed, written and produced by: Greg Coolidge, Kirk Ward, Shawn Simmons
Writers: Greg Coolidge, Kirk Ward, Shawn Simmons
Directors: Albert Hughes (Parts 1 & 3), Charlotte Brandstrom (Part 2)
With Colin Woodell, Mel Gibson, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Jessica Allain, Mishel Prada, Nhung Kate, Ben Robson
Peter Greene, Ayomide Adegun, Jeremy Bobb, Katie McGrath, Ray McKinnon, Adam Shapiro, Mark Musashi, Marina Mazepa
Music Composer : Raffertie
Executive producers: Thunder Road Pictures’ Basil Iwanyk and Erica Lee, Albert Hughes, Kirk Ward, Greg Coolidge, Chad Stahelski, Derek Kolstad, David Leitch, Shawn Simmons, Paul Wernick, Rhett Reese and Marshall Persinger
Running Time : between 82 et 90 minutes
Release Date : 22 September 2023
NOTE : 3/5