The John Wick spin-off The Continental is rated “rotten” on Rotten Tomatoes, but the prequel series deserves way more credit than it’s getting.
- The Continental’s mixed reviews reveal an unfair comparison to the blockbuster John Wick movies, which have larger budgets and different production constraints.
- The show explores complex character dynamics, especially the relationship between Winston and his estranged brother Frankie, adding depth to the John Wick universe.
- Despite budget limitations, The Continental replicates the gun-fu action sequences on a smaller scale and provides a immersive 1970s setting, with attention to detail in set and costume design.
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The new John Wick spin-off The Continental has been slammed by critics, but the show is way better than reviews say. The Continental follows Winston in the 1970s as he takes over the titular hotel. The show embraces the ’70s setting, introduces new characters into the assassins universe, and continues to build the ever-expanding John Wick world. Unfortunately, the series has suffered a critical scathing, as it currently sits at a “rotten” 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. However, while the show might have a poor Rotten Tomatoes score, the 83% audience score speaks for itself.
The Continental’s mixed reviews have been battled by general audiences, but while The Continental might be more of an audience pleaser than a critical darling, reviews have held the TV show to an unfair standard. As The Continental is part of a blockbuster franchise with 2023’s John Wick: Chapter 4 being the fantastic conclusion to the film series, it’s unjust to compare the TV show to a $100 million movie. For a TV series, The Continental is still cinematic, exciting, and generally well-crafted, and there’s a lot for both fans and non-fans of the John Wick franchise to love about the new series.
9 Winston & Frankie Have The John Wick Franchise’s Most Complex Relationship
While Winston’s close friendship with Charon was one of the most fascinating bonds in the movie franchise (and The Continental reveals how Winston and Charon met), the series explores a much more interesting relationship. It’s revealed that Winston has an estranged brother, Frankie, who lived a completely different kind of life from Winston, and The Continental depicts how their different upbringings shaped who they are. The show also uses Winston and Frankie’s familial association to explore fraught friendships, and there haven’t been such complex character dynamics in any of the John Wick movies.
8 Cormac Is A Great Villain In The Continental
The John Wick franchise has interesting antagonists, but most of them are villain archetypes. Viggo is a typical Russian mobster, and Santino is a spoiled rich kid who was born into wealth. However, where most of the villains are following orders or trying to protect themselves, Cormac feeds off the power that being The Continental manager gives him. The character has little respect for the hotel’s rules, and he’s equally manipulative and sadistic, as he convinced an employee to jump off The Continental building. The Continental episode 1 ending sets up an epic battle between Cormac and Winston, which could be one of the most exciting showdowns in the franchise.
7 The Continental Action Sequences Are Better Than Most TV Action
Many critics have pointed to The Continental’s action and accused it of being too dull compared to the John Wick movies. However, TV is a completely different format from movies, as the budgets are lower, productions have fewer resources, and projects have less time in development. That means that The Continental’s action was never going to be as good as John Wick’s, as Keanu Reeves trains for months, and the movies now have nine-figure budgets. Nevertheless, The Continental still does a great job at replicating the gun-fu sequences on a smaller scale. Frankie’s fight scenes particularly stand out, especially the four-minute sequence at the beginning of The Continental.
6 The Continental’s 1970s Setting Is Totally Immersive
Colin Woodell in The Continental: From the World of John Wick
Winston is 30 years old in The Continental, and most of the first episode sees him searching through New York for his brother. It’s in these scenes when the set and costume designs totally become the stars of the show. The characters are all soaked in ’70s style, and the sets look like they were ripped out of a 1970s furniture catalog. The decade of disco is on full display in every shot and there’s clearly been careful attention to detail. The CGI in The Continental might not be great, but even the digital make-up given to the city to look more in keeping with 1970s New York is dazzling.
5 The Continental Continues John Wick’s Incredible Needle Drops
Along with the gun-fu and combat dogs, the John Wick franchise is known for its head-nodding needle drops. Whether it’s a Justice dance track playing during the 222 steps or “Nowhere to Run” playing right before the manhunt in John Wick: Chapter 4, the series’ music supervisors have always chosen the perfect music. That’s no more true with the incredible Continental soundtrack. Donna Summer’s iconic “I Feel Love” is the very first track in The Continental episode 1, totally setting the disco-drenched tone of the series. Other classic ’70s songs feature in the show, including Boney M’s “Daddy Cool,” “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie” by Baccara, and many others.
4 The Continental Episode’s 90-Minute Format Works Wonderfully
Most TV show episodes when it comes to action and crime series tend to be around 40-50 minutes. However, The Continental’s episodes are a feature-length 90 minutes. A small number of other shows have taken this approach, such as BBC’s Sherlock, and the format works extremely well for pacing and shows that need to tell longer and more complex stories. The first episode of The Continental spends its 90 minutes introducing new characters, building the world, and exploring 1970s New York City, and the runtime flies by. The 90-minute format also works well for a John Wick show given all the prolonged fight scenes.
3 The Continental Continues The Masterful John Wick World-Building
The John Wick movies focused on world-building more and more with each consecutive release while still telling an engaging story, and that’s exactly how The Continental approaches world-building too. New characters are introduced, such as Hansel and Gretel, who are hired by Cormac to kill Frankie. The show continues to tease The High Table hierarchy with the new Adjudictor in The Continental too. The series also delves into detectives trying to uncover what’s going on in The Continental, and the John Wick movies had never featured authoritative figures like police before (except for the one officer who visited John after a noise complaint in John Wick).
2 Colin Woodell Is A Great Young Winston In The Continental
Colin Woodell plays the younger version of Winston in The Continental cast, and he perfectly captures Ian McShane’s mannerisms. McShane expertly played the 70-something Continental owner as classy but conniving, and Woodell is just as classy and conniving in the scams he pulls in London and New York. However, outside of the final scene in John Wick: Chapter 4, audiences rarely see another side to Winston, but Woodell surprises viewers by depicting Winston as vulnerable. At the end of The Continental episode 1, Winston lets his guard down and is acting on emotion instead of looking at life like a chess board.
1 The Continental Adds Mystery To The John Wick Franchise
The mystery of the John Wick universe is what makes the series so alluring. However, while the mysteries in John Wick are just trimmings and the main narrative is a simple revenge story, The Continental is as much a mystery series as it is an action series. The show opens with a mystery, as Winston is in custody when he’s just a boy, before flashing forward 20 years. Then there are the questions surrounding Frankie stealing the coin press in The Continental, such as why he stole it and why it was worth sacrificing himself for. The Continental creates all these puzzles, making it more than just another gun-fu audience-pleaser.