“Rules,” Winston Scott (Ian McShane) repeats at various points throughout John Wick film franchise. “Without them we live with the animals.”
The John Wick The franchise is obsessed with the rules that govern its secret society of assassins and criminals. The films particularly examine the ways in which such a system is inevitably designed to produce advantages those who have power within it. As such, one of the more interesting things The Continental: From the world of John Wickthe franchise’s new three-part prequel miniseries, offers a counterpoint to this argument. The Continental depicts a world that largely exists without rules.
The John Wick The film franchise shows a hermetically sealed world. John (Keanu Reeves) only has fleeting interactions with people who live outside this subculture of assassins. The most prominent civilian in the franchise is John’s wife Helen (Bridget Moynahan), who dies in the opening montage of the first film. Virtually every character in the film franchise has some connection to this community, even those who live in opposition, like the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne).
Look at the… John Wick In films, a viewer might assume that the real world is just a distorted reflection of this underground community. When a police officer (Thomas Sadoski) knocks on John’s door, it’s enough for him to ask the former hitman: “Are you working again, John?” When John has to dispose of some bodies, he can give Charlie (David Patrick Kelly) a gold coin. Even Aurelio’s (John Leguizamo) local chop shop is caught up in this criminal system.
Sometimes the world is the John Wick Movies feel like they are depicted in The Matrixwhich makes sense considering director Chad Stahelski worked as Keanu Reeves’ stunt double in these films. Especially at various points in the series John Wick: Chapter 2 And John Wick: Chapter 4, entire action sequences take place while crowds of extras wander completely unaware in the background of the shot. It’s as if they belong to a completely different world.
This approach works for a variety of reasons. In practice, it’s just a clever imagination. This allows audiences to enjoy the films without worrying about possible collateral damage. There are no civilians to get caught in the crossfire, so it’s much easier to just go with the flow. It also underscores the films’ core themes – the idea that violence is easy to accept as long as it occurs within strictly defined and carefully codified structures.
This also makes the films seem a bit timeless, as if they were taking place in a strange dream world. Although the first four films were released over a nine-year period, between 2014 and 2023, they appear to take place within a compressed time frame. “Well, we assumed that the first three films would have been made in about a week and a half,” Stahleski explained leading up to the release of the fourth film. “I think everything happens within a year. I would say almost within seven to eight months.”
What year is this? Is it 2014? 2023? Somewhere between the two? Look at the… John Wick Movies, it’s hard to say. There is little evidence in the films that they can be assigned to a specific time. In fact, it can often seem difficult to attribute them to a specific location. Much of the film series takes place in a version of New York that seems strangely unreal. The landmarks of this shadow city include fictional places such as “The Continental” or the “New Modern NYC”.
Against this background, it is striking The Continental works so hard to anchor yourself in a particular place and time. It is a series with a very strong understanding of history and geography. Beyond that, it’s also a show about the relationship between this isolated world of professional killers and the city at large. While the majority of the John Wick The film series is told from the perspective of “an organization before the Roman Empire.” The Continental looks at this being from the outside.
This is clear from the opening moments of the show. In 1955, Winston (Fflyn Edwards) and his brother Frankie (Ben Robinson) are children in a police interrogation room. It’s an interaction with law enforcement that seems completely alien to the police’s internal logic John Wick Films. John never had to deal with the police or such consequences. As the series jumps forward in time and joins Winston (Colin Woodell) as an adult, he casually mentions David Bowie and Tony Defries.
As much as The Continental describes itself as “From the world of John Wick“It’s also much closer to the real world.” Frankie (Ben Robson) is reintroduced, leaving the Continental and making his way to the Wall Street subway station, creating a keen sense of spatial awareness and geography. Detective Mayhew (Jeremy Bobb) admits that the Continental itself is in the “Financial District.” Director Albert Hughes makes a point of including the World Trade Center in as many opening shots as possible.
While John Wick Films have their own musical landscape, which is largely built on this The classic theme by Tyler Bates and Joel J. Richardthe soundtrack too The Continental is much more tied to the popular culture of the era in which it is set. “I come from a background of doing needle drops, my brother and I do it all the time,” Hughes explains the show’s soundtrack. “The John Wick Movies had their hyper-stylized impressionistic view of New York. We brought our own with a 70s feel.”
The characters in The Continental Don’t have the reassuring distance that makes that happen John Wick film franchise. They are products of the world around them and do not exist outside of it. Frankie is particularly influenced by his experiences during the Vietnam War. It has to do with his work at Continental. “The war made him efficient and cold,” explains Cormac O’Connor (Mel Gibson). “It got him a promotion.” Frankie is married to Yen (Nhung Kate), a Khmer Rouge soldier he met abroad. He trades weapons with his old war comrades.
This makes sense in the larger context of Albert Hughes’ filmography. Working with his brother Allen, Hughes was always a director with a strong sense of place. In a way, the Hughes brothers captured not so much the reality of a particular time and place, but rather its atmosphere: 1990s Los Angeles Society of Threat IILondon in the 1880s From hell. The New York setting of the 1970s after Vietnam The Continental offers an interesting echo of the work of Albert Hughes Dead presidents.
This dissonance between 1970s New York and the world of John Wick is effective. “Brothers in Arms” waits 55 minutes before showing the lobby of the eponymous hotel, evoking both anticipation and alienation. When Winston arrives, he is brought in through the service entrance. Later, the audience follows detective KD DeSilva (Mishel Prada) into the lobby. KD has no knowledge of this secret society and its customs. In a scene that is delightfully unsettling in its “wrongness,” she pays them for their drink in cash rather than a gold coin.
The show is also very specific When it is set. There is a passing reference to an ongoing garbage strike that is part of the city’s rich history. There were several sensational hits in the second half of the 20th centuryTh Century: 1968, 1975And 1981. The fact that Hughes and the production team keep referring to the 1970s suggests that 1975 is the most likely candidate. Nevertheless, the setting would have something poetic The Continental in 1981, New York’s infamous “most violent year.”
The Continental unfolds very clearly against the backdrop of New York City’s urban decay in the 1970s, the era known as “City of fear.” Crime was widespread, Especially in the subway. City dwellers lived in terror. New York itself get into the debt spiralwith President Gerald Ford famously misquoted as rejecting any bailout, telling the city: “drop dead.” It is an era that often lingers in public memory for a long time a very strange feeling of nostalgia.
The Continental shows a city that is falling apart. “New York is a real shithole these days,” Uncle Charlie (Peter Greene) once complains. “The city is getting rougher every day,” Lou (Jessica Allain) tells Winston. All in The Continental is dirty and full of graffiti. When Frankie goes to the subway station, it is covered in graffiti. The train pulling up is also covered in graffiti. When Winston borrows Charlie’s car, even the tarp covering it is covered in graffiti.
In her introductory scene, KD stares out the window of her apartment and watches as a dog owner refuses to pick up his dirty pet. It is a potent metaphor for the decline and disintegration of these civic bonds. Lou returns home from a failed arms deal to find the window to her family’s shop broken, a direct reference to “broken window“Criminology theory – that the visible signs of crime inevitably lead to more crime.”
In contrast to New York City John Wick Movies that New York City from The Continental is a world without rules. It’s pure chaos. It’s an interesting creative choice that doesn’t just serve to differentiate The Continental from that John Wick movies, but also to start a conversation between them. At least the version of New York that appears in The Continental suggests why Winston would value rules so much.