Quick-Thoughts: The Wachowskis’ The Matrix, Reloaded, and Revolutions (1999-2003)

The Matrix (1999)

Screened at Regal 4DX • 3rd Viewing

It seems virtually impossible to dislike a movie such as The Matrix: something so open on allowing itself to have THIS much fun and set piece / special effects extravaganza while simultaneously covering some thought-provoking topics from World on a Wire (1973) through simple hero’s journey formula, intelligently luring in a giant spectrum of audience types. It isn’t without its flaws — that entire finale banking on Trinity and Neo’s love — but damn does it still stand above a majority of the cyberpunk genre even two decades prior from release.

Verdict: B+

“The Matrix” is now available to stream on HBO Max.

The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

2nd Viewing

You know what? I don’t mind this sequel that much, and I think it primarily stems from how much I admire the Wachowskis for continuing to just go full f**king send on the over-the-top, calculated nature of their action sequences arguably even more so here than its predecessor. From the occasional gangbang of Mr. Smiths to that non-stop-adrenaline chase sequence, engaging action is certainly on no shortage in Reloaded. Where it all comes crumbling down though is really just in how it warrants its existence. 

Occasionally, it’ll have interesting points to make in regards to the cycle of control, chaos theory, or the trial-like nature of turning out prophets, and while those ideas do expand ground for the Matrix universe, the entire narrative just inherently continues to visually prioritize the rather generic and one-note good guys vs bad guys side of it, with Neo’s arc banking on the film’s banal take on The Empire Strikes Back (1980) blueprint through its loved-one-death-ultimatum that amasses into an awkwardly rushed climax and, not to mention, an equally rushed shift into its dark cliffhanger. Where the original felt as if it was constantly incorporating blockbuster style to compliment the substance, this sequel feels as if it’s just switching on and off between the two. 

I’ll somewhat give the Wachowskis a pass though because boy is their visual dopamine *zonked* up in this movie.

Verdict: C+

“The Matrix Reloaded” is now available to stream on HBO Max.

The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

Okay, now this though I do f**king mind as I had feared. Why is the first hour of this movie just Ian Bliss showing off his Mr. Smith impression and the capper hour an eye-lid-clamp-level of flashy, overdone James Cameron jerk-a-thon spectacle torture that’s finished off with a pre-op Man of Steel (2013) boss battle. It seems as if the Wachowskis have nearly dropped all their individualistic screen direction for one of the most disposable and soulless franchise finales ever conceived, and it furthermore thematically adds jack s**t to the conversation besides having “I believed” quotes repeated out of every character’s mouth as if they were selling bumper stickers in their scenes to the point of wearing out the spirit of what it stood for in the original because the film can’t inspire anything new. This to me is also a priceless example of Revolutions abusing the “trial-like nature of turning out prophets” theme that I had mentioned in my Reloaded review as its only source for thematic growth. What desperation! 

Revolutions genuinely feels like it could be the ending to any other low-rate action sci-fi war narrative out there when detached from both the original and Reloaded. It is completely unspecial besides the fact that it is in relation to an already pre-established and beloved Matrix universe.

Verdict: D

“The Matrix Revolutions” is now available to stream on HBO Max.

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