Robert Forster, Keanu, Matrix: Weekly Round Up

Robert Forster

Robert Forster. RIP.

This week, ladies and Gentlemen, is the week of Keanu Reeves… okay, well, not quite. But, kinda…

It’s the week of news related to Keanu Reeves, but not actually about Keanu Reeves. And that may seem like it doesn’t make an awful lot of sense, but all will become clear before the end, and you can’t deny that just mentioning Keanu Reeves will likely keep a lot of people reading since… well, the internet f**king LOVES Keanu Reeves.

First up, we have news from the world of John Wick.

The first John Wick movie came out in 2014, and while it may seem hard this now, Keanu Reeves was hardly a major and relevant star. The Matrix movies were a long time ago in movie terms, and Reeves hadn’t had a big action hit the likes of that in the intervening years. But suddenly, along came a man and his dog, and all was right with the world. The movie was a massive success, despite the fact that it could have so easily not have been, and spawned two sequels, both of which also enjoyed critical and commercial success.

As a result, Reeves made something of comeback, and the world was introduced to the John Wick Universe. The studio behind the franchise, Lionsgate, have already scheduled the release of the highly anticipated fourth entry into the John Wick series, inventively titled John Wick: Chapter 4 at this stage, for a May 2021 release date, but they haven’t stopped there with news from The Continental.

There’s a TV series, named after the aforementioned hotel from the series, which remains shrouded in mystery at this stage but much anticipated (at least by me it is), and this week we learned that they are also powering ahead with a spin-off, entitled Ballerina.

Ballerina is set to be female-centric, and who better to lead this new, female-led action movie and potential franchise starter to success? Well, obviously the guy who directed Underworld… right?

Okay, so the news that Lionsgate have picked Len Wiseman to direct Ballerina was met with criticism by many people, me included. There are literally hundreds of female directors who could have taken on the job (what about Coralie Fargeat? If you’re not going to give her Bond, you could at least give her this! Have you seen Revenge? It’s freaking awesome! She’d slay it!), and while we don’t know what Wiseman pitched that ultimately won him the job, it can’t help but seem a little off to put a male director in the director’s chair when a female-centric action movie would no doubt benefit from a female-led crew…

The other not-quite-Keanu-Reeves-news news this week comes in the form of a casting announcement for the new Matrix film.

Yaha Abdul-Mateen II, of Aquaman fame, has been cast in a role in Lana and Lilly Watchowski’s surprise Matrix sequel. Quite what the role is we don’t know, all we know at this stage is that it has been described as a lead role and a new role, meaning that he won’t be playing an already existing character.

Abdul-Mateen is now the third actor attached to the film, following the recent news that both Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are reprising their roles from the originals.

Other than that, not much is known about the new Matrix movie, so I guess we’ll have to wait and see. But I have to admit, despite how terrible the original sequels were, I’m cautiously optimistic and incredibly curious about just what this film is going to wind up being. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for more news on this one.

While we’re on the subject of action movies, if there is one star working at the moment who is always guaranteed to bring a ridiculous sense of stoic fun to proceedings, it’s Jason Statham. And while he’s most recognizable today as Deckard Shaw-type characters in over-the-top action blockbusters (anyone see The Meg, for example?), there was a time when he was better known and the gravelly-voiced gangster from Guy Ritchie’s directorial debut Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, and his second feature Snatch.

Well, it looks like the duo might be reuniting, this time with a remake of a movie called Le Convoyeur, which translates to Cash Truck, which is an ensemble crime drama.

Ritchie has The Gentlemen coming out soon, which sees him return to the shady world of gangsters, but this time with a cast that includes Hugh Grant and Matthew McConnaughey. The film looks good, or as good as a Ritchie gangster movie can be (the answer is really good, by the way), and so maybe we’ll get lucky and see him return to the genre again after the disaster that was Disney’s Aladdin remake…

Speaking of Disney and their obsessive need to remake everything rather than actually create new movies worth seeing, it looks like they’re really trying to give Netflix a run with their new streaming service Disney+, and nothing shows just how worth buying into a giant conglomerate hell-bent on securing a monopoly on all your childhood memories rather than supporting independent, creative led streaming services like Netflix is than… a remake of the live-action Inspector Gadget!

Yes, that’s right, that terrible movie no one remembers, starring Matthew Broderick, and it’s equally awful direct to DVD sequel, are sure to get you to cancel your subscription to the place you can watch El Camino, the spectacular epilogue to Breaking Bad, right?

El Camino, which dropped on Netflix this week and is well worth your time if you were a fan of the show it is based on, also features the final performance actor Robert Forster, who sadly passed awake this week from brain cancer. Robert Forster was an incredibly talented and brilliant actor who appeared in a whole host of great cult movies but is perhaps best known for his role in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown.

Robert Forster will be sorely missed, and Aaron Paul, who reprises the role of Jesse in El Camino, paid touching tribute to him recently. RIP.

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Alex Secker is a writer/director/editor. His debut feature film, the micro-budget thriller Follow the Crows, won Best Independent Film at the Global Film Festival Awards, while his stage-play, The Door, won the People’s Choice Award at the 2017 Swinge Festival.