The Continental: From the World of John Wick (season 1)

The Continental doesn't capture the bottled lighting that was the 1st John Wick but it's decent and has promise as a continuing series
Mel Gibson, Colin Woodell, Nhung Kate, Katie McGrath
Greg Coolidge, Shawn Simmons, Kirk Wards
Action, Crime, Thriller
Release date
September 22, 2023
Where to watch
Overall Score
Rating Overview
Rating Summary
Once The Continental finally remembers its roots, it shines. But you have to get through three hours of some mixed offerings to get there.

The first John Wick film had a budget of between $20 and $30 million and made a very healthy $86 million profit. Four movies and almost ten years later, the franchise has surpassed $1 billion, making it one of the most successful action franchises in cinema history. Will The Continental raise or lower the value of the franchise?

The Continental (S1 E1 – Brothers in Arms)

Set primarily in the 70s, The Continental tells the origin story of John Wick favorite, Winston Scott. When his troubled and estranged brother crosses The High Table, Winston finds himself being ripped out of the life he’s made for himself in England and whisked away to his childhood stomping grounds of New York City. There, he’ll have a choice to make: betray the brother who abandoned him twenty years ago or start a war against an international organization of assassins that predates The Roman Empire.

The first twenty minutes of The Continental sets the tone and builds a significant amount of goodwill that more or less carries the rest of the episode. It’s full of good music, interesting visuals, and gruesome violence, and that is when the show feels its most Wickesque. Unfortunately, for much of the remaining 60+ minutes, director Albert Hughes (The Book of Eli) seems unable to consistently maintain this vibe.

That’s not to say that The Continental: Brothers in Arms is terrible. There are a few other moments in which Huges recaptures the magic, and, as a whole, The Continental is a marginally entertaining show that’s packed with enough Easter Eggs to delight Wickophiles. It just never achieves greatness.

Instead, it suffers ever so slightly in nearly every aspect of its production. The dialogue is occasionally serviceable, the secondary characters are a mix of almost interesting and not quite insufferable, the music is good but chosen more because it’s good than because it’s good for the scene, and while the action is abundant, it’s only okay, bolstered by some very accommodating stuntmen who generously wait to get punched and shot. Even Mel Gibson, who gives an otherwise adequate performance, suffers from affecting a distractingly bad New York accent.

Colin Woodell, who plays young Winston, seems to struggle somewhat between impersonating Ian McShane’s Winston and bringing his own spin to the character. The result is the same minor inconsistency from which the rest of the show suffers.

If there are any truly egregiously bad things about The Continental, one would be the digital blood splatter. Without exception, every one of the copious bloody bullet wounds is on par with a Deacon Frost explosion. The second is that, were it not for the “f-word,” Episode 1 might as well be a silent film. We’re not opposed to cursing in programs, but The Continental approaches Wolf of Wall Street levels, minus the panaché.

Panaché is the difference between simple vulgarity for its own sake and storytelling.

Set to consist of three 90-minute episodes, there’s enough good in this first installment to justify giving the next one a try, and it’s our guess that, now that much of the World-Building has been established and the stage has been set, the rest of the episodes won’t feel quite as bogged down.


To put our woke scoring into perspective, we rated this episode as 90% Non-Woke. That’s the threshold. At 89%, we designate programs as Woke-ish.

  • There are some very forced-feeling female characters.
    • And it wouldn’t be so bad except that they are often accompanied by equally forced woke dialogue. For example:
      • A female detective jokingly says, “I’m still a woman. My male superior is an@$$hole.” This is said in reference to a crack about her being a cop.
      • Later, that same guy from the previous scene unnaturally exposits, “You’re the first female in the precinct, and you’re already f#@k!ng it up.”
    • They are little things, but they are there to artificially remind you about sexism and do nothing to further the narrative.
    • A female detective is shown to be tough by ordering and drinking Scotch. – it’s silly and doesn’t work.
    • The ladies are a bit too tough for their size, but it’s hard to fault in a show with Gun-Fu.
  • There’s a single forced line of identity politics dialog.
    • “There wasn’t much out here for a drug head and a black vet.”

The Continental (S1 Episodes 2 & 3)

With the stage set and his goal clear, Winston recruits a team to help him bring down Cormac and The Continental.

One of the reasons for the success of the original John Wick film was its economical plot setup and its tight 90-minute runtime. It knew what it was and didn’t attempt to over develop a plot that would have crumbled under the weight of even light scrutiny.

As has been the case with most long-form streaming series since Game of Thrones ran out of books, they seem to follow the same pattern as that of aging starlets’ faces. That is, with only so much skin that can be stretched before they get waxy and fake-looking, so, too, do most modern series fall apart under the weight of having too little story unnaturally stretched over too much time. Look at Disney’s most recent attempt to ruin Star Wars as a perfect example.

With that in mind, Episodes 2 & 3 of The Continental are greatly helped by having the setup out of the way and only needing to fill the equivalent of four 45-minute episodes.

Episode 2 is primarily character intros and filling in the backstories of the already established characters while the core group prepares for their incursion. It also gives Mel Gibson more time to chew the scenery, which is mostly a good thing. Not only because the audience is finally given a visceral reason to root against him, but Gibson is an underrated actor, and, as anyone who’s heard one of his drunken rants knows, the man understands anger. His Cormac might be two-dimensional, but he’s also entertaining.

It’s a shame that Gibson, or perhaps the filmmakers, chose for the character to sound like someone impersonating Goodfellas. Fortunately, the bad New York accent is far less prevalent in these entries than in the first, making it far less distracting.

Where Episode 1 was world-building, and 2 was backstory and planning, the finale is almost 90 non-stop minutes of munitions and martial arts, occasionally interrupted by a heartfelt moment or villain quip. It’s done with style and the same sense of fun as the best parts of the John Wick franchise.

While the show is at its weakest when it’s trying to pad the runtime with far too many characters and their almost always boring subplots, Eps 2 & 3 are an improvement on the first installment in almost all respects. The pacing is much quicker, the characters that we care about are given more time to shine, and the characters that we don’t care at all about… are still given too much screen time. Most importantly, we are given bad guys worthy of the hellfire being rained upon them.

Overall, these two episodes make for a fun diversion and a decent entry into the franchise. Above all, they don’t take a giant dump on the main property, which is a huge bonus when you consider the modern tendency to do so (looking at you Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and Witcher).



  • The girl bosses are many, and their subplots are among the most boring and poorly developed.
    • That said, even though, in real life, there is no chance that any of the ladies could have manhandled the men like they repeatedly did in the show, each and every woman fighter looked like they knew what they were doing. Coming off the heels of Rosario Dawson’s uncoordinated ineptitude in Ahsoka, I’m almost willing to give it a pass… almost.
  • There’s a needless subplot to highlight Asian racism against blacks, just to have a racism subplot.

James Carrick

James Carrick is a passionate film enthusiast with a degree in theater and philosophy. James approaches dramatic criticism from a philosophic foundation grounded in aesthetics and ethics, offering insight and analysis that reveals layers of cinematic narrative with a touch of irreverence and a dash of snark.


  • T. Silva

    September 25, 2023 at 12:31 am

    5 out of 5

    I won’t watch it cause I’m sick of the so called” bad ass” females. It’s become an old and tired narrative. If I want to see see an obnoxious “bad ass” I’ll watch a Steven Seagal movie with a bucket to puke in.



    • goqu

      September 28, 2023 at 3:47 pm

      Badass females are one of the most annoying tropes used in movies and video games nowadays.



  • Y B

    September 25, 2023 at 11:34 am

    5 out of 5

    As much as i like this website, I’d like to say that the woke elements are historically accurate this time. You might point it out but saying that it’s a woke element given the fact that the story takes place in the 70s is kind of inaccurate. It’s forced a little bit, i agree.



    • James Carrick

      September 25, 2023 at 11:41 am

      Thanks for the comment.

      We didn’t mark them down because they were inaccurate but because the dialogue and placement seemed forced. You could almost see the writers reading over a draft of the script and saying, “here would be a good place to insert some identity politics.”

      Keep in mind that we try to call out all of the woke moments that we see so that our readers can determine for themselves if it’s too much.



      • Y B

        September 25, 2023 at 11:46 am

        Fair enough


  • SojoXX

    October 20, 2023 at 11:47 am

    5 out of 5

    Highlighting Asian racism against Blacks as a focus (which, I won’t deny is a thing, but almost never a violence thing) is hilarious considering what is happening today. Feels like a “whataboutism” that doesn’t work.


  • Paul N

    October 27, 2023 at 12:44 pm

    5 out of 5

    Like in Gen V it seems the writers have to kill off the what looks like someone that could be a strong and interesting character in the early parts of the series in favor of setting up another laughably, as mentioned in the other comments “Badass” female lead character and a weak male sidekick to boss around.(which immediately reminds me of “no ass” and her ass stunt double in Captain Marvel) Sadly the forced diversity, and modern Hollywood’s insane virtue signaling ideologies they are forcing down everyone’s throats, will make this series mediocre vs something that could be great. I guess there is truth in when they say if you just keep repeating the same lies, eventually some people will start to believe it’s the truth… Woke, subtle or blatant, is Woke. It ruins everything it is inserted into. I wish failure for anything that embraces it. No quarter.


  • Henry

    November 3, 2023 at 11:59 pm

    3 out of 5

    Every major villain in the show – Mel Gibson’s character, the twins, etc. – is killed by a woman as well. It almost felt like Winston himself barely even did anything. Not sure if I’d classify that as woke, but it did feel like the main character was taking a backset to the girl bosses at several points.


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