Michelle Rodriguez Reportedly Returning For Fast And Furious 9 After Female Writer Is Hired

Michelle Rodriguez’s Letty is one of the pillars of the family at the heart of the Fast and Furious franchise, having appeared in five of the films, including the original and 2018’s The Fate of the Furious. But the actress’s time with the franchise looked like it may be running out of gas, based on comments she made about possibly sitting out the next film.

Now that crisis looks to have been averted and Michelle Rodriguez is reportedly returning for Fast & Furious 9. According to Bloomberg, the actress’s return comes after she secured an agreement for a female writer to join the production. There is no word as of yet about whom the female writer joining the franchise’s ninth installment will be, but there will be a female voice contributing to Fast & Furious 9.

After the release of The Fate of the Furious, Michelle Rodriguez expressed a desire for the franchise to start showing more love to its female characters, otherwise she might not return. She later elaborated about her concerns, speaking about her desire to champion female empowerment and the stagnant nature of the Fast & Furious franchise in that regard.

Expressing a desire for the action films to evolve, she cited the fact that the female characters in the films almost never talk to each other in the Fast & Furious movies as one example of the franchise’s problems in this area. While the male characters have real conversations and relationships, Michelle Rodriguez has spent very little time over the course of the series with the other actresses.

So by asking for the next Fast & Furious movie to show more love to women, she wanted to see female characters handled more deftly and with more substance. She also wanted for the women to actually talk to one another in meaningful ways and have real relationships.

Michelle Rodriguez was never adamant that she wouldn’t return, saying that she would wait to see the script and that she expected Vin Diesel to convince her. But she definitely wanted a female voice to be involved to help address her concerns and evolve the franchise. And it seems she got her wish.

The takes no crap actress believes that a movie on the scale of the Fast & Furious franchise has a responsibility to affect positive change, and she used her clout to do just that. Now the franchise can evolve the way she wanted, and hopefully have even better stories and character development and Fast & Furious 9 gets Michelle Rodriguez back as Letty. So it’s a win-win all around.

Alongside Michelle Rodriguez, another original cast member of The Fast and the Furious, Jordana Brewster is returning as Mia Toretto for Fast & Furious 9. Maybe those two franchise OG’s will get some good stuff to do together thanks to this new female writer being brought aboard.

There was also news earlier this year that the franchise has a female-led spinoff in development with three female writers brought aboard to pen it. Perhaps one of those three, Nicole Perlman, Lindsey Beer or Geneva Robertson-Dworet, are the writer helping out with Fast 9.

Fast & Furious 9 doesn’t arrive until May 22, 2020, but you don’t have to wait that long to see the next movie in the high-octane franchise. The first spinoff film, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, races into theaters on August 2. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to keep track of that and all the summer’s biggest movies.

Kevin Feige Confirms An Incredible Hulk And Spider-Man Connection

If a franchise is around long enough, then the greater the chances are you’ll have an actor return to play a different character. Just look at all the actors the Law & Order shows have reused over the years. However, every now and then there’s an opportunity to have the characters played by such an actorconnect to one another or even become the same character. Now it’s been confirmed that the latter is the case with Martin Starr in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Martin Starr first cameoed as a college student in The Incredible Hulk, credited simply as “Computer Nerd,” who Edward Norton’s Bruce Banner gives pizza to in order to access the Culver University computer lab. Nine years later, Starr returned to the MCU as Roger Harrington, a science teacher and head of the Academic Decathlon Team at Peter Parker’s school in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

During a recent Reddit AMA, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige was asked if we can assume if Martin Starr’s The Incredible Hulk and Spider-Man: Homecoming characters are the same people. Feige responded:

There you have it. If the head honcho at Marvel Studios consider Martin Starr to be playing the same individual in the MCU, then we can take that as a fact. When he briefly crossed paths with Bruce Banner, Roger Harrington was still going through higher education, but eventually he found a teaching position at the Midtown School of Science and Technology, where his life would intersect with another superhero.

It’s worth noting that in The Incredible Hulk novelization, Martin Starr’s character is named Amadeus Cho, who in the Marvel comics universe is a young Asian American man who is one of the smartest people on the planet and succeeded Bruce Banner as The Hulk in recent years. Obviously that portion of the novelization has been rendered non-canon, paving the way for a more faithful version of Amadeus to be introduced down the line. After all, we already met Amadeus’ mother, Helen, in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

While Roger Harrington’s participation in The Incredible Hulk was simply reacting with gratitude that Bruce Banner gave him pizza (there was a scene where he had dialogue, but it was cut), he had a more substantial role looking after his students in Spider-Man: Homecoming. He was on the elevator in the Washington Monument with some of the teens when the Chitauri energy core detonated, but fortunately Spider-Man saved him and the others before they fell to their deaths.

Martin Starr is reprising Roger Harrington this summer for Spider-Man: Far From Home, as Roger is one of the teachers chaperoning the trip to Europe. So naturally he’ll get caught up in Spider-Man’s latest adventure, but it remains to be seen if he’ll ever interact with Bruce Banner again. That would be quite a reunion, especially considering how Bruce is looking nowadays.

Spider-Man: Far From Home spins its web in theaters on July 2. For everything coming to the MCU afterwards, look through our handy guide.

Netflix’s Always Be My Maybe Trailer: Watch Keanu Reeves And Ali Wong Dirty Talk

Wait… you watched until the end right? I promised you Keanu Reeves and the only way to deliver is if you’ve see the trailer to the very end, but we’ll get back to him in a bit.

Always Be My Maybe follows Sasha (Ali Wong) a successful celebrity chef with a good-looking fiancé, played by Lost and Hawaii Five-0’s Daniel Dae Kim. When she goes home to San Francisco for business, she runs into her childhood crush Marcus (Fresh Off the Boat’s Randall Park). Will Sasha gets starry eyes for the one who got away? Or in her case, the one who didn’t move as she left and pursued her career goals.

The trailer from Netflix reveals her fiancé skips out on their wedding plans while she’s at home and he’s on vacation, sparking a hilarious line from Wong as she says she hopes he gets Malaria and shits himself to death. Then, it’s revealed a child’s birthday party was in close vicinity to hear her vile burn.

Sasha then finds herself spending more time with Marcus as she pursues dating on the side. Their chemistry is pretty obvious to everyone else but the couple seem oblivious to it on their own. It’s a classic “will-they-won’t-they” scenario for rom-com fans to eat up.

Always Be My Maybe drives down memory lane a bunch with the couple, flashing back scenes of them when they were kids and in a funny scene where the two make jokes about being in the same car where they once had sex as teens. Oh, and of course Mariah Carey’s ‘90s hit “Always Be My Baby” is playing in the background.

Right when it seems Marcus has drummed up the courage to tell Sasha he’s been in love with her for 15 years, Sasha drops a big bomb. She met someone… and yes, he’s played by Keanu Reeves. The actor makes a grand entrance and helps end out the trailer on a hilarious note as he and Ali Wong say things like “I missed your thumbs” closely into each others faces and Marcus’ heart drops.

It’s also perfect for Reeves to show up in the Always Be My Maybe on the heels of John Wick 3 heading to theaters this weekend and his new role in Toy Story 4 soon hitting screens.

While the trailer shows a lot about the movie, this moment serves as a great hook for audiences to watch the release on the streaming platform when it’s released on May 31.

Olivia Wilde Says Focus On Her Looks In Hollywood ‘Grosses’ Her Out

Olivia Wilde has been in the acting business for quite some time, but she’ll actually be stepping behind the camera for her next big screen venture Booksmart. In a recent interview, Olivia Wilde talked about how she’s been feeling icky while doing press for the gig, although it has nothing to do with directing itself and everything to do with how Hollywood has perceived her up until this point. She said:

Not that there’s anything wrong with being good-looking, but for a long time in the actress’ career she really believed her job as an actress was to be “everyone’s version of a perfect woman.” Of course, life — and work — is a whole lot messier than that.

During the same interview with the New York Times, Wilde also mentioned feeling exploited in meetings, noting,

Now the actress is growing older, she believes the parts she is being offered are more sophisticated and getting to work behind the camera has seemingly been more rewarding than playing a part in someone else’s story. Olivia Wilde went on to reflect that “it only gets more interesting when you get too old to play dumb.”

Although she says she doesn’t regret roles like her gig on The O.C., which really helped to jumpstart her career, Booksmart is Olivia Wilde’s story. The movie has already earned some praise for its coming-of-age subject matter (and shout out to somebody finally putting Kaitlyn Dever in the spotlight), but if you ask Olivia Wilde, she’s simply proud of how Booksmart helped push her past the “superficiality” of her earlier work and into something more fulfilling:

We’ll have to see how Booksmart fares in the fickle world of moviegoing, but with any luck we’ll continue seeing more from Olivia Wilde both behind and in front of the camera. In the meantime, Booksmart opens on May 24, 2019. Take a look at other upcoming releases with our full movies schedule.

Is Poms’ Box Office Failure Tied To Yikes Reviews?

Diane Keaton in Poms

If the box office is perfectly balanced, as all things should be, that means that while Avengers: Endgame is breaking records, something else has to be failing spectacularly, and that something is the comedy Poms. The story of a group of women who start a cheerleading squad at their retirement community is the worst box office flop of the year so far for a film with a wide release on over 2,700 screens.

Poms debuted in 6th place, earning just $5.3 million against a $10 million budget over Mother’s Day weekend. Whenever a movie fails like this, it is worth doing a post-mortem and asking what happened. One of the first things worth wondering about are the yikes reviews Poms received, which certainly didn’t do it any favors. CinemaBlend’s own Eric Eisenberg highlighted the film’s lack of originality in his review, saying:

There is hardly a single underdog sports movie cliché that isn’t employed at some point, and it’s difficult to feel entirely engaged with the story when you know exactly how every single scene is going to begin and end.

Yikes indeed. Audiences need to be sold to spend their hard-earned money to come to the theater, and when the reviews warn of a cliché-ridden film that people have the impression they’ve seen before 1000 times, there is no incentive to go see it.

But maybe you’re okay with a clichéd and simple story, and you just want to laugh and have a good time. Sadly, Poms comes up short in that regard, according to the Associated Press’s Lindsey Bahr, who in her review said:

It’s fine to make a film that’s just supposed to make an audience smile but this film doesn’t even get close to that level of joy.

You can definitely see how potential audiences who read that review might have been reticent to spend money to see a movie where even the hope of cracking a smile is in doubt. And if a comedy can’t make you laugh, that’s a problem and that is definitely the case here according to IndieWire’s Jude Dry, who gave the film a “D” and said:

Poms is the first narrative feature from documentarian Zara Hayes, who wrote the script with Shane Atkinson, making his feature debut. Neither have much background in comedy, and it shows.

One of the theoretical selling points of Poms is its cast of legendary actresses, including Diane Keaton, Jacki Weaver, Celia Weston, Rhea Perlman and Pam Grier. However, a common thread among the reviews for the film was lament that the actresses aren’t given quality roles in a well-written film to work with. In her review, The Hollywood Reporter’s Beandrea July said:

Poms is equal parts boring and infuriating, especially when you consider the actresses made to perform caricatures of old age.

By many accounts, Poms doesn’t treat its elderly characters with much respect, which is made even more galling considering the pure talent involved. That lends a sad quality to the film that may have turned off audiences. The Guardian’s Benjamin Lee, gave Poms 1 star out of 5, and if you read his review, you probably wouldn’t spend your money to see the movie either. He said:

It’s easy to praise the mere existence of Poms as a rare wide-releasing comedy populated by women over the age of 70 but rather than feeling inspired, I left the cinema feeling depressed… The women in Poms deserve better and so do we.

‘I left feeling depressed’ is not the blurb you want for an ostensibly feel-good Mother’s Day movie. And while it might be great that this movie got made and received a wide release, general audiences aren’t in the business of voting with their dollar at the box office to advance the cause of older actresses in the industry.

Poms currently has a 32% on Rotten Tomatoes, meaning that the reviews weren’t all bad, and opening night audiences gave the film a “B+” CinemaScore, indicating those who saw it generally liked it. So is Poms‘ box office failure tied to the bad reviews?

It’s tough to say, but the reviews certainly couldn’t have helped. It’s difficult to know how much reviews truly influence audience’s moviegoing decisions. Plenty of horribly reviewed blockbusters make bank at the box office and countless critically acclaimed smaller films struggle to scrape together a few pennies.

I tend to think that reviews only influence audiences to an extent and that most people make up their minds before they see the reviews. It’s only when the consensus is drastically in one direction or the other that their choice can change. I also don’t know what the level or quality of the marketing across the country was for Poms.

If Poms was beloved and the reviews helped spur great word of mouth, maybe it wouldn’t have flopped in this way, but it was probably never going to really deliver. These kinds of smaller movies, rightly or wrongly, are a dying breed as blockbusters dominate the theatrical calendar. Counter-programming can be successful, and perhaps that, as well as coinciding with the Mother’s Day holiday was the strategy, but everything, including reviews, has to click, and that wasn’t the case here.

I can’t help but feel like in the current marketplace, Poms was far better suited to be released on a streaming service like Netflix. Perhaps when it arrives on a streaming service down the line, it will get a second life.

Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to see everything headed to theater this summer and stay tuned to CinemaBlend for all the latest box office news.

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How Dennis Quaid Got The Dogs’ Attention On The Set of A Dog’s Journey

The story in the Dog’s movies center on a pooch who finds his way back to his owner across a number lifetimes as different dogs. It will soon continue with A Dog’s Journey, which will pick up with Dennis Quaid’s character, who is now a grandfather.

Since the film will follow a new generation of Bailey’s reincarnations, Dennis Quaid is one of the few threads that bind the pair of movies together and it sure showed on set when he’d work with the puppers. When Iwe recently sat down with Quaid and Marg Helgenberger, who plays Ethan’s wife Hannah in the flick, she shared a bit of the actor’s claim to fame. Check it out in their words:

Ah yes, food! That’s definitely the ticket to get in with the dogs!! As Marg explained, Dennis would place some on his face to get the animal actors to react to him on camera or do specific tricks, and it looks like it worked. He of course has had some experience on the prior film, while she was stepping onto the saga for the first time with A Dog’s Journey. The actress played Hannah for the sequel, replacing Peggy Lipton, who passed away a few days ago of colon cancer at the age of 72.

Dennis Quaid isn’t only a skilled dog whisperer of sorts, he’s a lover of man’s best friend. In our interview, he elaborated about why they’ve been an important element of his life. Here’s what he said:

Isn’t that the truth! Dennis Quaid is certainly passionate about puppers and having them there to keep him in check is one of the many reasons why. You can imagine how great of an acting partner a dog is with all those traits above their paws. Check out the pair talk during the exclusive interview below :

A Dog’s Journey comes a few months after the release of A Dog’s Way Home, which may not be directly connected storywise, but shares the same roots – they’re both based on novels and scripts by W. Bruce Cameron. This film centers on Ethan’s granddaughter CJ as she must grow up apart from them, but has a protector in Bailey as his reincarnations continually bring him back to her.

The 6 Best Brad Pitt Movies, And The 4 Worst

Brad Pitt in Se7en

Brad Pitt is Hollywood royalty, with a career spanning 30 plus years and a remarkable number of box office smash hits. Though he’s never won an Academy Award (really), he has put on some powerhouse performance in movies like Fight Club, Se7en, 12 Monkeys, and Ocean’s Eleven. He’s also put out a fair amount of duds, a few of which are really quite bad.

We put together a handy-dandy list of some of his best performances and movies as well as a few of his worst. As with anyone with a CV as long as Brad Pitt’s, some major performances just missed the cut, like Inglourious Basterds, 12 Years A Slave, The Big Short, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and the movie that launched his career, Thelma & Louise. Brad Pitt’s had quite an amazing career, to say the least, let’s take a look.

The Best Brad Pitt Movies

Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in Fight Club

Fight Club (1999)

Fight Club was not a huge hit when it was released, but it’s become a classic. It’s often called a cult classic, but it’s far too popular for that these days. Based on the book by Chuck Palahniuk and directed by the great David Fincher, Fight Club features Brad Pitt as The Narrator’s alter-ego, a man called Tyler Durden, who encourages The Narrator (Edward Norton) to start an underground fight club. Brad Pitt’s performance is pitch perfect as a jumpy, angry figment of The Narrator’s imagination.

Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys

12 Monkeys (1995)

12 Monkeys, directed by Terry Gilliam has everything people have come to expect from a Gilliam film. It’s visually amazing and disturbing, filled with crazy characters and a twisting plot that leaves viewers questioning humanity. Brad Pitt plays an eccentric patient in a bizarre insane asylum opposite Bruce Willis. It was the first time Pitt the heartthrob was recognized for his acting chops. The first time he proved he was more than just a pretty face, really.

Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman in Seven

Se7en (1995)

Brad Pitt’s first collaboration with director David Fincher (they’ve worked together three times now) is scary, twisted, and disturbing yet incredible, especially the first time you see it, before figuring out the twist at the end. Pitt’s performance as a young detective working with his partner, played by the amazing Morgan Freeman, is fantastic as the two work to solve the case of a terrifying serial killer who recreates the seven deadly sins with his victims.

Brad Pitt as Billy Beane in Moneyball

Moneyball (2011)

Unlike some of the other movies on this list, Moneyball is a more straightforward film with a more straightforward performance from Brad Pitt. Based on the book by Michael Lewis about the radical new way of doing business in baseball by Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane (Pitt), the movie is a bit of revelation. Though the book was a fascinating look into modern baseball, few thought it could translate to the big screen, but director Bennett Miller and writers Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin made it work brilliantly, with huge help from an Oscar-nominated performance by Brad Pitt.

Brad Pitt in Ocean's Eleven

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

There are few movies that are as much fun as Ocean’s Eleven. A remake of the legendary Rat Pack classic from the ’60s that was famous for its cast and their shenanigans in Las Vegas while they were filming, the updated Ocean’s Eleven features a similar all-star cast, including Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Julia Roberts. It also has a similar loose vibe where all the cast members look like that are genuinely having a great time making the movie. It’s the kind of flick you can turn on at any time and at any moment in the movie and watch until the end. As for Brad Pitt, he sure was hungry when he made this one.

Brad Pitt and Jason Strathom in Snatch

Snatch (2000)

Brad Pitt’s performance as a sketchy Irish gypsy underground boxer in Guy Richie’s Snatch is the highlight of a very entertaining movie. His stylized accent is almost completely unintelligible, yet absolutely charming and funny. When viewers do catch a word or a line here and there, they are hilarious. It’s a completely different role than a lot of his parts and it’s truly one of his best. Snatch is easy to compare to Ocean’s Eleven, as it’s a heist movie with a heavyweight cast, including Benicio Del Toro, Jason Statham, Dennis Farina, and Vinnie Jones, but it’s also totally different as it’s a movie that only Guy Richie could have made.

The Worst Brad Pitt Movies

Cool World (1992)

Cool World is a disaster of a movie from 1992, it was early in Brad Pitt’s career and frankly, he may feel lucky that it didn’t completely derail said career. Directed and drawn by legendary animator Ralph Bakshhi (Felix The Cat), Cool World is a mess in every way. Pitt plays a hardboiled live-action detective in an animated world in a sort of Who Framed Roger Rabbit for adults – or at least that was the goal. It’s 4% rating on Rotten Tomatoes pretty much says it all. It’s not even fun in a campy way.

By The Sea (2015)

By The Sea, directed by Brad Pitt’s then-wife Angelia Jolie, feels more like an excuse for the couple to hang out in the Mediterranean (it was filmed during their honeymoon in Malta) than anything else. Frankly, it’s a boring movie with a tired plot about love and betrayal in the South of France. It’s not worth exploring the plot more than that, because it’s exactly what you expect. It was a total bomb at the box office too. What else is there to say?

Brad Pitt's hair in Johnny Suede

Johnny Suede (1991)

Johnny Suede is an impressively bad movie that star Brad Pitt and his hair. His hair, like Rami Malik’s teeth in Bohemian Rhapsody, is the real star of the performance here. Everything else about the movie is completely forgettable. He was cast in this right after filming Thelma & Louise, but before it was released, so he was still an unknown actor at the time, and thankfully for his career, this movie is completely overshadowed by his breakout performance in Thelma & Louise. Again, with different timing, his career might have been quite different.

Brad Pitt in Seven Years In Tibet

Seven Years In Tibet (1997)

Seven Years In Tibet is a movie that SHOULD be good but… just… isn’t. Brad Pitt’s performance is uneven, with him taking on a pretty poor Austrian accent. Let’s just say it wasn’t his finest performance. Pitt plays famous mountaineer Heinrich Harrer in a story based on his real life as a POW during World War Two that escaped British capture and hid out in Tibet for rest of the war. Seven Years In Tibet really should be a great movie! It’s sad that it isn’t. It also suspiciously leaves out a crucial aspect of Harrer’s life – he reportedly was possibly a Nazi.

With more than 75 acting credits over the years, Brad Pitt has had remarkably great track record, both as an actor and the in the movies he picks. There really are quite few duds on his resume and the future also looks great with the much-anticipated Once Upon A Time In Hollywood set for release this summer.

What do you think is Pitt’s best role? What about his worst? There are plenty to choose from, so we’d love to hear more.

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Why The John Wick Franchise Is Better Than Mission: Impossible

Keanu Reeves in John Wick

There is a general consensus among many movie fans, as well as a lot of film critics, that the best modern action movie franchise is the Mission: Impossible series. Tom Cruise has taken action to the next level by not only performing all his own stunts, but performing some practical stunts on screen like we’ve never seen before.

I would never claim that what Tom Cruise has accomplished in the Mission: Impossible franchise isn’t amazing. It absolutely is. However, while Tom Cruise climbing the world’s tallest building is phenomenal on its own, as a franchise, I actually find the John Wick movies to be far superior in many ways. Here are some reasons why.

Keanu Reeves as John Wick crying

John Wick Is More Human

It’s true that, for the most part, both John Wick and Ethan Hunt are essentially superheroes. They are men of incredible talent and skill who are successful to a ludicrous degree in everything they do. However, I find John Wick to simply be a much more relatable character.

When we first meet Mr. Wick, he’s not busy murdering a room full of assassins. He’s in his house, alone, mourning. The first thing that we learn about Wick is his weakness and vulnerability This is important, because for the rest of the movie he is running around murdering rooms full of assassins, but now we can better relate to him.

By contrast, Ethan Hunt is a near perfect superspy who free climbs dangerous mountains alone for fun in his free time. The franchise has done a better job of humanizing him in more recent films, but it’s been working backwards. It made him the invincible hero first and that’s just not as relatable.

John Wick and Charon at the Continental

It Has Superior World-Building

The first thing that jumped out at me about the John Wick franchise was the excellent way it created the world in which Wick and the other characters lived. The idea that this whole world of professional killers is happening all around us in plain sight is incredibly entertaining. There’s a serious lack of expository dialogue as well. Instead, the film just drops you into the world and lets you understand how it works as you go along.

Nobody tells us where the Continental hotel comes from or where its traditions originated. It’s just there; one assumes it always has been. Because the characters can navigate this world with ease, it comes across as normal to us and we learn what we need to know by watching what happens.

We don’t even need the explanation of who John Wick is that the first movie gives us. Everything we need to know about the level of badass we’re talking about here is expressed in the dialogue between two other characters. The reaction spells it all out.

The Mission: Impossible franchise isn’t without its own world-building, specifically as it pertains to the IMF itself, but for the most part the IMF just feels like any spy agency in the real world. I enjoy the more fantastic elements of John Wick.

John Wick and his dog

There’s A Cohesive Story

One of the things that set the Mission: Impossible movies apart was the way that each installment was handled by a new director. This let each one take the property in a different direction and use it to try and do something different. This was a great idea and it gave us a lot of different flavors of Mission: Impossible to enjoy, and also a John Woo movie.

Unfortunately, one negative side effect was that each movie feels so different that they barely feel like they’re part of the same franchise. Only in the last couple films have we seen real sequels that feel like they belong together, and that’s because Christopher McQuarrie has been overseeing things.

By comparison, the John Wick films are so tightly woven together, the second film follows almost immediately after the first and we know the same will be true of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. The entire trilogy takes place over a matter of days. Each event that happens follows directly on the events that came before. The events of Chapter 2 happen because of what happened in the first movie. Parabellum‘s plot is a consequence of Chapter 2. The reason that the following installments are called chapters is because they really are just pieces of a longer narrative.

John Wick shooting somebody in the head

More Visceral Action

Action scenes are largely a matter of taste and the type of action that one person loves might not work for another, but personally, I’m a fan of action that is simple and personal. Give me a good sword fight or fist fight, when well shot and choreographed, and I’m in heaven.

Mission: Impossible certainly isn’t without this sort of action. The bathroom fight scene in Mission: Impossible – Fallout is a thing of beauty and my favorite part of that film. However, the rest of the action in that movie involves Tom Cruise doing HALO jumps and flying helicopters. They’re big, amazing moments, but I find them to be so big that the character of the moments gets lost.

John Wick, by comparison is almost nothing but these close quarters hand-to-hand fights and gun battles. Everything feels more intimate, and therefore, more tense. When John Wick gets thrown off the balcony of the dance club you don’t just see him hit the ground with a thud, you feel that impact.

John Wick isn’t about one massive set piece stunt, it’s about a collection of stylish, perfectly choreographed action sequences, where each one ever so slightly out does the one that came before building to an epic finale.

John Wick at the Continental Club

It’s Got Style For Days

While the action of John Wick may feel more real, the rest of the world, to be sure, does not. The world of assassins that exists around our own is somewhat fantastical, that’s true, but that’s what makes it so much fun.

It exists out of time, with operators using an old fashioned switchboard and typing out contracts on vintage typewriters. Contracts are sent out on the modern cell phone network, but they come from a computer that looks like it came out of a silicon valley garage in the 1970s. The timeless element adds so much to the overall feel of the story.

The fight scenes are an extension of this style. Everything in them is beautifully choreographed. It’s like watching a big song and dance number in a very bloody musical. Watching all the players perform their steps to perfection is a joy to watch.

I still love the Mission: Impossible franchise. I look forward to the two additional films that are coming from Tom Cruise and Christopher McQuarrie, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next. There’s no question we’ll see some epic stunts. However, outside of those epic stunts, I’m just not sure there’s going to be enough in the story to keep me excited when the big stunt is over.

Instead I’m much more excited to see John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, and if there are even more chapters in John Wick’s story left to tell, I’ll be even more excited for those. I find John Wick to be a more compelling character, who also is really good at killing lots of people in very pretty ways.

Which Modern Action Franchise Do You Prefer?

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Black Widow’s Big Avengers: Endgame Scene Originally Went Down Differently

Spoilers ahead for Avengers: Endgame

Avengers: Endgame may have already been in theaters for weeks, but the public hasn’t recovered from from the film’s wild events. The Russo Brothers masterfully brought the blockbuster to theaters, in a story that balanced character-driven story with epic action. But Endgame went through quite a few changes before finally arriving theaters, including Black Widow’s story.

Black Widow has been the soul of The Avengers since early in the group’s formation, sharing an intimate bond with all of the OG members. So her sacrifice to procure the Soul Stone was fitting and emotional, as was the tension between she and Hawkeye as they tried to stop each other. But it turns out that the Soul Stone sequence in Endgame could have contained even more action, with Thanos and his forces arriving to stop the Avengers. Endgame editor Matthew Schmidt recently revealed this, saying:

Well, that’s a different type of heartbreaking. Because while Natasha was always meant to sacrifice herself for the Soul Stone, the journey toward her death changed throughout the course of Endgame‘s development. In the theatrical cut, Hawkeye and Black Widow were left to ponder Red Skull’s comments, and decide who should end up jumping in order to complete the Time Heist. But it originally included the duo being attacked by Thanos’ forces, adding in an extra level of drama and action to the scene.

It may have been thrilling to see Black Widow and Hawkeye team-up in battle one more time, but I think that the correct version of Endgame‘s Soul Stone scene was ultimately in the theatrical cut. Cutting out the threat of Thanos and his outriders allowed the scene to breathe, and for Clint and Natasha to have one last tender moment with each other. What’s more, the two Avengers scuffling in order to try and sacrifice themselves was unique type of action for the blockbuster.

Black Widow’s death was the first big one in Avengers: Endgame, and showed what a massive arc the character had gone through within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She refers to the Avengers as her family to War Machine, and helped to regulate superheroic efforts in the wake of Thanos’ snap. She was also the most determined to fight back and reverse the snap– whatever it takes.

It should be interesting to see what comes next for Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow. While Hulk wasn’t able to bring her back with his snap, the character will finally get her own solo movie in Phase Four. Smart money says it’ll come in the form of a prequel, finally revealing Natasha’s sordid past. ScarJo’s contract with Marvel is also up with Endgame, so the actress should get a serious pay bump for another appearance.

You can watch Black Widow’s sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame, in theaters now. Be sure to check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

ReelBlend #68: Our Interview With John Wick: Chapter 3 Director Chad Stahelski

Very few directors currently are doing action as well as Chad Stahelski. He learned from the best. The kickboxer turned stunt performer turned coordinator turned director has been reinventing the stunt/fight wheel with the John Wick franchise, which is continuing this week with John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.

Before the movie opens in theaters, Stahelski was kind enough to join the ReelBlend podcast for a candid discussion on his extensive approach to action-set constructions, the insane amount of time it takes to do action scenes with trained dogs, the way they broke story for the John Wick saga, and the influence that The Matrix continues to have on action movies to this day.

(In case you were unaware, Chad Stahelski first met Keanu Reeves when we worked as the actor’s stunt double on all three Matrix movies. Theirs is a legendary partnership that stretches back decades.)

It was an honor to have Chad Stahelski on our show, and we know the Blenders are going to love his incredible stories about the John Wick films, and moviemaking in general.

Before we got into our conversation with Chad Stahelski, we discussed the news that Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will be the ones to get their Star Wars movie in theaters in 2022. There hasn’t been confirmation that their trilogy will continue in 2024 and 2026 (or if Rian Johnson will get one of those slots to begin HIS trilogy), but those guys are slated into the 2022 slot, and we discuss how that impacts Star Wars going forward.

Speaking of Game of Thrones, Kevin, Sean and Jake weigh in with their opinions of the next-to-last episode of Game of Thrones. Their largely split on how things played out, but they talk about how the season is concluding, and how they think the finale will play out.

Finally, this week’s #Blend Game focused on the films of Sofia Coppola. How many of the guys chose Lost in Translation?

ReelBlend is a weekly podcast that we do on CinemaBlend. You can download the latest episode (and all of our past episodes) for FREE on our iTunes page! Visit. Subscribe. Like and comment. Review! Apple loves when you have star ratings and reviews, so if you listened, and you liked it (or even if you didn’t), let us know. We also are on Spotify. And Google Play. And basically everywhere that you download podcasts. So download us.