Peacock's The Continental Expands The John Wick Franchise In A Way The Movies Can't
The John Wick franchise comes to TV with a throwback action series set in the 1970s.
While the four John Wick movies may tell a complete story of the assassin played by Keanu Reeves (until they decide to make another film, of course), there's so much about the world he operates in to explore. That's where The Continental: From The World of John Wick comes in. The three-part streaming miniseries debuts Friday on Peacock, with two more installments on the next two Fridays.
While The Continental doesn't actually feature Wick, it's something of an origin story for the film franchise. It tells how Winston, played by Ian McShane in the films, came to be in control of the assassin-infested Continental hotel in the 1970s. By exploring not only his backstory but that of his most trusted employee in the films, Lance Reddick's Charon, so much more context is given to the franchise--as well as a good dose of '70s-flavored history, from the music and fashion to the culture awakening.
"You just get excited, because culturally what was going on [in New York City at that time]? You had Studio 54, you had the sanitation strikes, you had the life and flavor, the sounds, the smells, the culture," Albert Hughes, who directed the first and third episodes, told GameSpot. "It's one of the few cities in the world where you can say, 'I don't know any other city with that many cultures packed in like that, where you have no choice but to mix with other people. And it's the promise of the premise of America is what that city is."
And with three 90-minute installments to explore that world, the team behind The Continental was essentially given a trilogy of films to tell this one particular story, making room for the kind of character development that typically wouldn't reach too far beyond the primary stars of a single movie.
"You have no choice but to introduce new characters outside of Winston and Charon--and reveal more mythology, mystery, [and] rules," Hughes explained. "And the wonderful thing about the film series is they don't give the audience all the answers. They can be quite vague. There may not even be logic to some of this stuff. And the audience kind of puts it all together themselves and have their own fan theories."
And now, with The Continental, those same theorizing fans will have even more to discuss as they figure out the full timeline of this iconic hotel from the films. It's not just the character development that stands out as different from the movies, though. As Hughes points out, the show also has a very different sense of humor.
After all, the John Wick movies are often very funny. However, the comedy is typically found in the action beats. While there still is some of that in The Continental, having the room to flesh out character and story leads to more dialogue than you might expect in a John Wick story. It's there, though, that Hughes and the Continental team found their laughs.
"The TV series differs a little bit because some of the humor is more verbal," he noted, while also pointing out the important role music plays in the series. It's hard to understate the importance of the show's soundtrack, given it's filled with the type of '70s needle drops that fit in perfectly well in this older and grungier version of New York City.
It goes a long way in helping viewers lose themselves in the retro look of the series, which stands in sharp contrast to the vaguely futuristic aesthetic of the John Wick films. Expect fewer neon lights and cell phones, more boxy, older cars and excellent vintage fashion.
Don't worry, though. The show is still titled The Continental: From the World of John Wick and still has the kind of action set-pieces you expect from the films. It's just not as chaotic a ride, with a fighting sequence being immediately followed by five more fights. It's a welcome change before, assumedly, the Ballerina spin-off film debuts next year, bringing the world of Wick back to the big screen.
The Continental airs Fridays on Peacock.
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