“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
Adolescence is a time when you’re still discovering yourself. I’m of the opinion life is about the continual growth of an everchanging persona. We as people evolve and adapt the same way most creatures do. Who we are five years ago is different from who we are now and we’ll have a greater understanding of ourselves in another five years.
When I first watched The Matrix, I was not impressed. Understand this was in the late 2000’s. I had just entered senior high school and The Matrix, as the public is ripe to do, had hyped it quite a bit. Unreasonable expectations were put upon it. I also acknowledge I didn’t understand some of the content. No such problems for me these days.
The Matrix was made in 1999, which is quite shocking when you look at it now. Oscars were bestowed for film editing, visual effects, sound effects and sound editing. Oscar winners usually age like fine wine and so is the case here.
The Wachowskis are visionaries, fluid artists and studied penmen. They are makers of the eye like Luc Besson, persons of vivid imagination and the essential ability to translate those images from mind to parchment. They conjure spectacles and impossibilities in their spare time. The Wachowskis are magicians of sorts, highlighting bravado with a deft touch. They’re obsessed artists, enamoured and fully committed to all aspects. If only all makers could be this way.
The digital effects are perforating and the stunts elegant. That’s where a lot of the film’s value comes from, as well it should. It’s hard not to look at the Mona Lisa in the Louvre and think that’s the only thing that matters there. It’s a genuine masterpiece.
I don’t want to go over the top and compare The Matrix to the Mona Lisa but The Matrix is a great movie, one with chivalry and superb texture. Time reveals all things, they say and I think The Matrix would be received with more acclaim today than it was in the last century. Each frame glows in a different way, each segment utilized to its highest propriety. The Matrix has an aurora going for it, all crafted and brewed by master chemists of literature. I’ve mentioned the vitality of tone many a time and The Matrix has its theme firm in place. A lack of substance can make all the beauty in the world go to waste for the wise. A task removed from heart feels diluted and a mind without activity will decay. The Wachowskis best novella has all three elements and it’s hard not to fall in love with that.
The punk era’s scent is all over this film. Surprised they didn’t sneak Feels Like Teen Spirit into the discography. It’s rebellious and challenges structure while preaching autonomy.
The movie is not for those who struggle to operate upstairs. You can soak in the action and drink it that way if you want to but there’s a lot more you’ll be missing out on, including the trashing of all preconceptions and the introduction of a familiar philosophy. The Wachowskis were so dedicated to these principles they tested the cast on theme-based literature. Break out of the chains, breathe in and storm forward.
Now to Keanu, a man I have a love/hate relationship with because for as talented as Mr. Reeves can be, he can also be very bland (Constantine, Speed). Johnny Mnemonic is an entertaining bad movie but removed from one scene, isn’t exactly a calling card. 47 Ronin is truly awful. The Replacements is manageable. Reeves has had a lot of one-offs and great actors don’t generally have that many blunders.
There are roles the man was born to play. The Matrix series was one of those and that’s likely because Neo could be literally anyone. He is a white sheet, an amorphous character. While given direction, Reeves’ long stare serves as an asset. Neo has quite the story to tell but not a lot of words to tell it with. The chosen one trope is an overdone concept but placed in ripe condition here. Just because it’s a piece used often doesn’t mean it can’t work.
A final shoutout to Hugo Weaving, who carries command in every role and Lawrence Fishburne, who reminds us that fate and destiny can be intertwined and despite that, we all have a choice.
Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.
80-89 It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Wanted, Law Abiding Citizen, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, The Conjuring)
50-59 This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Silence, The Fast and the Furious, Brooklyn’s Finest, Death Race, Wind River)
40-49 This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Doom, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Power Rangers, Underworld: Evolution)
30-39 Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (High-Rise, Most Likely to Die, Independence Day: Resurgence, The Crow: City of Angels, Centurion)
0-19 Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie Stoner, The Forbidden Dimensions, Cyborg, Outcast, Sabotage)
My score for The Matrix: 93.
John Wick is critically exceptional and Bill & Ted has a large following but The Matrix is the product Reeves will be known for. This film is visually timeless thus far and that’s quite an accomplishment. That, along with researched, educated writing makes for a sci-fi punk film worth watching this summer if you’ve pushed it off for the last 20 years.