John Wick's World Expands: 'The Continental' S1 Ep. 1 Review!

Welcome to the thrilling world of "The Continental," a John Wick prequel series that's set to take us on a journey back in time to the mid-1970s New York. In this series premiere discussion, we'll dive deep into Episode 1, where we follow the story of Winston Scott, played by Colin Woodell, as he embarks on his journey to becoming the owner of the infamous Continental Hotel.

The Continental

"The Continental" is a three-part prequel to the action-packed John Wick film series. It's designed to unravel the enigmatic backstory of how Winston Scott, a character we've grown to admire, ascended to the prestigious role of Continental Hotel owner.

The Continental From the world of John Wick - Lionsgate
Image Credit: Lionsgate Television

This intriguing premise promises to take us on a rollercoaster ride through the shadowy world of assassins, hitmen, and underworld intrigue, all within the bustling backdrop of 1970s New York.


Now, onto the main course – Episode 1. The first thing that strikes us is the pacing. Clocking in at 1.5 hours, it's a testament to the show's engaging storytelling that time seems to fly by. In a world where some 45-minute episodes can drag on, "The Continental" keeps us hooked from start to finish. The character development is skillfully done, making us genuinely care about the cast, a feat not often achieved in such a short span.

Expectations were high for some high-octane gun-fu, and while it's not the sole focus, the show doesn't shy away from it either. Frankie's opening fight is a nod to the signature John Wick style, and Yen's intense brawl with a goon is a standout moment.

The pacing, however, isn't just about the action. There's a delightful balance between dialogue and action, ensuring that the narrative flows smoothly. Notably, the show's decision to fast-forward through a car chase, offering only glimpses, adds a unique touch of flair and keeps the pacing tight.

Action and Combat

One of the first things fans look for in any John Wick-related content is the mesmerizing gun-fu choreography, and "The Continental" doesn't disappoint in this regard. The show knows how to pay homage to the John Wick style of action. Frankie's opening fight sequence, reminiscent of Wick's own encounters, gives us that satisfying dose of gunplay and combat.

But the series wisely doesn't overindulge. It manages to strike a balance, offering gun-fu as a part of the action palette rather than the entire canvas. This approach keeps the action sequences fresh and exciting without overshadowing the plot and character development.

CQC Combat Highlights

Beyond the gunplay, "The Continental" shines a spotlight on close-quarters combat (CQC). Yen's intense brawl with a formidable opponent stands out as one of the episode's highlights. It's a reminder that this series doesn't rely solely on firearms; it's unafraid to explore hand-to-hand combat with finesse.

The choreography in these combat scenes is well-executed, showcasing the skill and precision of the characters.

Car Chase and Stunt Teams

Car chases have become an expected thrill in action-packed shows and movies, and "The Continental" doesn't shy away from them. However, what sets this series apart is its decision to fast-forward through a car chase, offering glimpses rather than an extended sequence.

This approach works well because, let's be honest, not all car chases are created equal. It takes top-tier stunt teams, like those seen in the John Wick movies, to truly elevate these scenes and make them entertaining. In many shows and films, car chases can devolve into generic bumper-to-bumper gunfights. By choosing to skim through it, "The Continental" keeps the pacing tight and the audience engaged.

While it's unclear whether the same stunt crew from the John Wick movies is behind the action in "The Continental," the decision to prioritize story and character development while still delivering heart-pounding action is a smart move. It ensures that the series remains true to its roots while carving its own path in the John Wick universe.

Mature Content

Fans of the John Wick films will recall that they were known for their stylish action, intricate world-building, and a particular tone that set them apart. The Adjudicator in the movies was confident, calm, and menacing in her pursuit of answers, and these moments didn't require overtly explicit content to engage the audience.

In "The Continental," there's a noticeable departure from this approach. Some viewers have raised concerns about the inclusion of more explicit content, especially in the context of nightclub scenes. While the movies portrayed clubbing scenes as background elements with NPCs vibing amidst the action, the series opts for a different approach, which has led to mixed reactions.

The question arises: what is the role of these mature scenes in "The Continental"?

Some argue that they add depth and authenticity to the world, while others question their necessity, especially in a series already anchored in the iconic John Wick brand. The argument here is that the presence of John Wick alone should be enough to captivate the audience without the need for what some describe as "cumbrain bait."

It's important to remember that "The Continental" is carving its own path within the John Wick universe, and while these mature scenes may be divisive, they represent an artistic choice by the creators.

Surprises in "The Continental" [SPOILER]

One of the most surprising moments in Episode 1 was the death of Frankie. Many fans, myself included, anticipated his character to play a more prominent role in the series, perhaps saving his demise for a climactic showdown later in the season. However, the show's decision to have Frankie meet his end in the premiere was a bold move that subverted expectations.

Frankie's untimely demise leaves us with questions about his backstory and what could have been. His character possessed an undeniable aura of strength and mystique, with hints at a rich history. Just being a war veteran doesn't fully explain his impressive capabilities, leaving room for speculation and intrigue.

With Frankie's exit, the series opens up possibilities for how the story will progress. It's intriguing to think about the potential trajectory of other key characters, particularly Yen. As an established figure in the John Wick universe, Yen's fate remains uncertain. Will he become the centerpiece of a future showdown against Cormac's army, as some have speculated? It's a compelling idea that could add layers to the narrative.

Shining Moments in "The Continental"

First and foremost, let's applaud the show's opening fight sequence. It's a striking homage to the John Wick style, complete with fast-paced action and fluid choreography. This scene not only sets the tone for the series but also reassures fans that "The Continental" respects and embraces the signature action we've come to love.

Charlie, the younger character of the cleaner from the movies, is a captivating addition to the story. His presence adds depth to the John Wick universe by giving us a glimpse into the world of cleaners and the role they play in the shadows. Plus, the connection to John's original car, complete with the same license plate number, adds a layer of nostalgia for fans of the franchise.

The world-building in this episode is commendable. It effortlessly immerses us in the mid-1970s New York setting and provides glimpses into the history of key characters like Winston Scott. These elements contribute to making the John Wick universe feel even more expansive and interconnected.

Critiques and Concerns: Navigating "The Continental"

One of the pillars of the John Wick franchise has been its memorable dialogue and well-defined characters. However, we couldn’t help but notice that the series takes a different approach in these departments compared to the films.

The dialogue in the movies was often sharp, confident, and delivered with a particular cadence that added to the overall atmosphere. In "The Continental," there have been observations that the writing doesn't always live up to the high standards set by its cinematic counterparts.

An interesting example is the character of the Adjudicator. In the films, the Adjudicator exuded an air of control and confidence, rarely needing to assert their authority verbally. In contrast, the series' Adjudicator seems to lean into a different interpretation, potentially coming across as insecure or overly verbose. It's a departure that some fans have found jarring.

The Continental S01 E01 Still Mel Gibson - Lionsgate
Image Credit: Lionsgate Television

The portrayal of Winston has ignited discussions about the differences in their performances. Some viewers have expressed reservations about Gibson's portrayal, citing that he doesn't capture the same presence and charisma that was brought to the character in the previous films. Gibson's interpretation may take time to settle in and develop its unique identity.

Accents and Character Backgrounds

Another point of contention revolves around the accents and backgrounds of certain characters. In the movies, Winston was portrayed as a character hailing from the UK, with Ian McShane's distinct accent reinforcing this. However, the series takes a different route, explaining that Winston was American-born but moved to the UK. This discrepancy has led to debates about whether Winston's accent in the films was British or not.

Viewers from the UK have noted that McShane's accent in the movies was unmistakably British, with pronunciation differences that set it apart from American accents. The series' explanation that Winston was American-born but moved to the UK has left some fans puzzled, as his accent in the movies doesn't align with the typical American pronunciation.

Watching Without Prior John Wick Knowledge: A Beginner's Guide to "The Continental"

Now, let's address an essential topic: whether it's possible to enjoy "The Continental" without prior knowledge of the John Wick films.

It's technically possible to watch the series without prior viewing, but also acknowledge the fact that it might leave you feeling somewhat bewildered.

The show delves into the backstory of characters like Winston, Charon, and the enigmatic world of the Continental Hotel and its coins. For viewers unfamiliar with the John Wick universe, these elements might seem like cryptic references without the context provided by the films. Therefore, while you can technically watch "The Continental" as a standalone series, it's widely recommended to watch the John Wick movies first to fully appreciate and understand the intricate web of connections.

For those considering watching "The Continental" without prior John Wick experience, it's crucial to understand that while you might avoid major plot spoilers, you could potentially miss out on the richness of character relationships and the significance of certain references. To truly savor the series, we recommend watching the movies first.

However, in essence, "The Continental" can also be approached as the backstory of key characters and the high table, interwoven with the events of the John Wick films. For some, to make it a complete and satisfying experience, watching the prequel series and then delving into the four John Wick movies is a suggestion that would help you appreciate the narrative in its entirety.

Technical Aspects: Behind the Scenes of "The Continental"

First, let's talk about the visuals. CGI, or computer-generated imagery, is a staple of modern filmmaking, and "The Continental" is no exception. While we noted that there were moments where the CGI appeared a bit awkward, it's important to remember that television budgets can differ from big-screen productions.

The show's cinematography, on the other hand, has absolutely stunning, especially the cityscape scenes and those featuring the brand-new twin towers. The series manages to capture the gritty, neon-lit essence of 1970s New York, immersing us in the time and place where the story unfolds.

There were a few comments about certain scenes feeling dimly lit, which impacted the viewer's ability to follow the action. This could be attributed to the diverse set of characters and the complexity of their interactions compared to the sole protagonist of the John Wick films. However, many viewers like us are optimistic that future episodes will address these concerns and enhance the visual experience.

Soundtrack and Atmosphere

No discussion of "The Continental" would be complete without mentioning the soundtrack and overall atmosphere. The show's creators have placed a strong emphasis on music, using licensed tracks to infuse scenes with a particular mood.

Some viewers have noted that the music can be a bit too loud, at times feeling like it's playing on top of the scenes rather than being an integral part of them. The choice of songs has also been a topic of discussion, with opinions ranging from appreciation to critiques of the selection.

Despite these considerations, the soundtrack still contributes to creating the unique atmosphere of "The Continental." It's this atmosphere that draws viewers into the world of assassins, hitmen, and intrigue, making them eager to see how it all unfolds.

Weekly vs. Binge-Watching "The Continental"

One of the first decisions viewers face is whether to watch "The Continental" weekly as episodes are released or wait to binge-watch the entire series once it concludes. This choice ultimately comes down to personal preferences and viewing habits.

Some viewers have expressed a preference for binge-watching, citing that they find it more immersive to consume multiple episodes in one sitting. They want to dive deep into the story, characters, and overarching narrative without interruptions.

On the other hand, there are those, like us, who enjoy the anticipation and discussions that come with watching a series weekly. It allows for time to digest each episode, speculate about future developments, and engage in conversations with fellow fans. With "The Continental" being essentially a three-part mini-trilogy, waiting each week adds an element of suspense that aligns with the traditional television experience.

Episode Length and Character Depth

Another factor that contributes to viewer engagement is the episode length and the depth of character exploration. Each episode of "The Continental" boasts a lengthy runtime, effectively making them 90-minute films. While this provides ample opportunity for storytelling, it also challenges viewers to invest more time per episode.

Some appreciate the extended runtime as it allows for more in-depth character development and intricate plot twists. It grants the series the freedom to explore nuances and complexities within the John Wick universe that might otherwise be rushed.

However, the longer episodes have also led to discussions about pacing and whether certain scenes could have been trimmed without sacrificing the narrative's impact.

Whether you choose to savor it week by week or dive into a binge-watching session, the John Wick universe is waiting to captivate you with its secrets and action-packed storytelling.

"The Continental's" Place in the John Wick Universe

"The Continental" is undeniably part of the John Wick universe. It takes us back to the mid-1970s, exploring the origins of characters like Winston Scott and the enigmatic world of the Continental Hotel. The connections to the films are unmistakable, with familiar faces like Ian McShane's Winston and Lance Reddick's Charon making appearances.

However, "The Continental" also aims to establish its distinct identity. It introduces new characters, plotlines, and settings that contribute to a broader understanding of this shadowy world of assassins and intrigue. This balance between honoring the source material and forging new narratives is an exciting aspect of the series.

As discussions about "The Continental" unfold, some misconceptions have arisen. One notable misconception is the belief that the series is based on a true story or a video game. It's essential to clarify that "The Continental" is a work of fiction, a prequel to the John Wick films, and not tied to real-life events or video games.

The show also includes references to real-life elements, such as the construction of the twin towers in New York City. These references add depth to the series' portrayal of the 1970s setting and contribute to the immersive experience.

Mixed Reactions: Navigating the World of Viewer Opinions on "The Continental"

It's not uncommon for a highly anticipated series to come with its fair share of initial disappointments. Some viewers, particularly those who hold the John Wick films in high regard, may have had lofty expectations for "The Continental." It's worth acknowledging that the transition from the big screen to the small screen can bring about changes in style, pacing, and character development.

One of the early disappointments was the departure of a beloved character, Frankie, in the first episode. This unexpected turn left some fans wishing for a different trajectory, especially given Frankie's mysterious and unexplored backstory.

Despite the initial reservations, "The Continental" has also delivered memorable moments that have resonated with viewers. The opening fight scene, reminiscent of the John Wick franchise's signature action sequences, was a standout highlight. Additionally, the introduction of Charlie, a character tied to the cleaner from the movies, added depth to the series.

There have also been humorous observations from viewers, such as the use of a song associated with internet memes in a particular scene.

Final Thoughts

Rating a series, especially one that is part of such a beloved franchise, can be a subjective endeavor. "The Continental" presents us with a fresh perspective on familiar characters and introduces us to new ones, all set against the backdrop of 1970s New York.

For the moment, I'd give the series premiere a solid 6 out of 10. It's evident that the show has its strengths, particularly in the action sequences, world-building, and character introductions. However, there are areas where improvements can be made, such as pacing and certain stylistic choices.

As we eagerly await the remaining two episodes of this mini-trilogy, there's a sense of anticipation in the air. Will the series delve deeper into character backstories, provide answers to lingering questions, and deliver on the promise of more jaw-dropping action? It's a journey that many of us are excited to continue.

For those who have already ventured into "The Continental," I recommend sticking with it. The John Wick universe is known for its intricate storytelling and well-choreographed action, and there's every reason to believe that the series will find its footing as it progresses.

John Wick's World Expands 'The Continental' S1 Ep. 1 Review!

Author: Ted Lasso

Author/Writer - Ted Lasso

Meet Ted Lasso, a Bachelor of Arts graduate with a unique passion for the world of Entertainment. With an innate talent for capturing the essence of TV shows & Movies, he crafts engaging articles, covering everything from latest Entertainment news to in-depth Fan theories. Ted's love for storytelling through the lens of Cinema and TV makes him a captivating voice in the world of entertainment journalism, ensuring you'll always have something exciting to watch next.

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