It's a damn crying shame that 'The Continental' is a disappointment because while much of the power and beauty in 'John Wick' came from its remarkable simplicity and clarity of vision, 'The Continental' feels like it's trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
In other words, 'John Wick' and the sequels that followed exist in a cinematic world. Trying to bend and shape it into a three-part TV series just doesn't work before. Even take the longest movie in the series and the most recent one, you could sense that its runtime served a purpose as both director Chad Stahelski and the icon of the series, Keanu Reeves, were preparing to leave everything on the (high) table. It was an all-or-nothing, throw-every-idea-at-the-screen, cast-everyone-you-know extravaganza and it closed out the film series in style. If there is to be a continuation, and it's unlikely there will be, the thing that made everyone enjoy it has to be retained in some fashion. To wit, it needs to have a sharpened plot and a healthy diet of ridiculous gunplay throughout.
Much of the first episode is punctuated by laying the groundwork of what '70s New York and the Continental looks like. In a surprising twist, the Continental is run by Irish-American mobsters with none other than Mel Gibson - with a twang he must have picked up when he was here for 'Braveheart' all those years ago - in charge of the underworld business. As well as this, Irish actors such as Katie McGrath and Patrick Bergin turn up in various supporting roles and there's a comforting lack of diddly-eye bollocks in their characterisations. Yet, it doesn't really help to make 'The Continental' any better, instead stops it from being potentially worse.
For one, the large cast ensures that we're never really locked into a singular character in the way that the movie had with Keanu Reeves. Moreover, the constant need to spray exposition and story like so many spent cartridges means that you're just waiting for it to be run over so you can get to the action. Thankfully, there are some great setpieces throughout the three episodes that sets it well above most TV shows today. Yet, beyond that, there isn't enough worth checking out. It's clear that 'The Continental' has gone through a lot of renovation and remodelling on its path to screens, and the results are not as polished and dazzling as one would have hoped for.
It may just be that the burden of trying to follow one of the greatest action franchises of the past two decades is too much for this. At any rate, 'The Continental' isn't worth checking in, or checking out.