Justin Peterson’s review published on Letterboxd :
(2019 Summer Blockbuster Movie Series)
Maybe love will truly conquer all, when it comes to me finally breaking down and admitting The Matrix is one of the most innovative badass actions films ever made.
"I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it."
I was in my Freshman year of Highschool when The Matrix came out, and everyone was talking about how awesome it was. As so soon as it came out on DVD my family had a movie night to check it out, and I remember enjoying it ... but then 'the ending' happened. I remember thinking the whole part where Trinity says she loves Neo after he dies, and then he magically comes back to life and is more powerful than the agents, was super lame. So because of this silly moment, I have always held a grudge against this film and would often call it overrated. So this time I came in looking to take away a whole new perspective, and despite the few cheesy moments The Matrix does have, overall it is a very smart film that works on many levels.
Let's just take a step back and think about all the things we specifically think about when it comes to The Matrix:
- Sunglasses and trench coats
- Bullet time effects
- Keanu Reeves saying 'Wow, I know Kung Fu'
- Eastern philosophy
- 'Alice in Wonderland' metaphor
- Lots of Guns!!!
- Take the red pill!
- Mr. Anderson
- And that awesome green coding that flows down computer screens
All these moments from this action, sci-fi, horror experience the Wachowskis so thoughtfully crafted, stick in our minds because of how fresh, innovative, and entertaining they were.
"Neo, sooner or later you're going to realize just as I did that there's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path."
The element that surprised me most on this rewatch was how many moments of horror are included, that help up the stakes in this futuristic dystopia where humans are being harvested to power the machine world. From the bug that is put in Neo's belly button, to awakening in a fluid filled harvester pod, the agents busting through the wall to grab at the team, and the aggressive nature of sentinels attacking their ship are all very intense.
Then you have the great Hugo Weaving who transforms into one of the best villains of all time in his role as Agent Smith. I remember really looking forward to that final fight between him and Neo in the third Matrix movie. Actually, while most people say they love the original and hate the sequels, I have always had a great time with 'Matrix Reloaded'. Right from the onset you could tell it was trying to be a silly over the top action movie, and that worked. Meanwhile, the first one walks a fine like between wanting you to take it seriously and being a little silly. Then you have the third one that is fun, but wow does my head still hurt from how much it pounds you with that Neo being Jesus metaphor.
"Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad."
So what do I mean by silly? While these moments are not as abundant as I remembered, you still have lines like 'Buckle your seatbelt Dorothy, because Kansas is going bye bye'. The fact that Joe Pantoliano's character turns on the team before we ever really get to know him. Keanu Reeves's acting which is not bad, but it's not great either. Cypher getting caught monologuing and being so surprised when Tank comes back to blast him away.
Finally the love conquers all moment I mentioned before, and to be honest as much as I was fighting them off ... I was getting some of those good movie chills during that moment. But they kicked into overdrive when they cut back to Neo and we see him being able to see through the fabric of the Matrix for the first time, as he becomes 'The One', aka a Matrix super saiyan. Also so many of the team members getting killed off before we really get to know them was pretty lame.
"I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin. I'm going to hang up this phone, and then I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible."
So while the philosophy mixed into The Matrix is not very complex or groundbreaking, I think it works pretty well to add some brains to this action thriller geared toward a general audience. The sequence were Morpheus is teaching Neo to open is mind is very reminiscent of Yoda's teachings from Empire, about someone not just trying and hoping to accomplish something, but instead being determined and just doing it. And that is a great lesson to live by.
You also have all the Alice and Wonderland stuff and Neo being like Jesus, out there to easily chew on. I kind of feel like having blatant references like this in a movie geared to the average movie goer, is a good thing. Because they will become more aware of looking for references after spotting these, and then may look for some in films where they are not so obvious. You also have the Oracle telling Neo that he is not Matrix jesus, in order to take off the pressure about him being 'The One'. I wonder if she was aggravated with Morpheus, for pounding that into his head for the whole first half of the story LOL.
Finally, we go to the action scenes, and wow did I enjoy jacking up the sound on my home theater and sitting back with smile while rewatching these. The scene where they shoot up the lobby is fantastic with all the shooting, acrobatics, and that popular music fueling it all. I chuckle every time when I see how they edited that specific shot in, of Neo grabbing that gun while doing a cartwheel and shooting. Why reload when you have so many guns LOL. Earlier in the film I loved hearing and singing along to Rob Zombie's 'Dragula', which I had not heard in forever.
All the training scenes are great along with the wire work, and the scenes where the camera shoots all the way around the slowed down action. But by far that big moment that gave me the biggest smile, was seeing that incredible helicopter crash where the glass ripples before exploding into a huge mass of broken glass and fire. And for the most part all the effects have aged really well.
For some reason I always remembered the opening of the movie with 'Neo' supposedly working some IT job taking forever, but with this rewatch I noticed that part was barely fleshed out at all. So what exactly are these hacker discs that people are paying him big money for? They never follow up on the building jump scene, with a moment where he can actually do that ... I guess skipping to him flying like Superman is better. There is nowhere near enough stuff in that cube for me to believe that is where he works. Wow, does his apartment and most of the buildings look dingy, which is likely due to the green hue which is everywhere in the movie, and is a clear sign that the Matrix is truly all around us.
The Matrix does have a few small issues, but the amount of enjoyment I found with everything it does do a fantastic job at, far outweighs my small gripes that used to prevent me from truly loving it. I am hoping this realization does not cause me to enjoy Reloaded any less.
'There is no spoon.'
Thanks for reading!
Happy movie watching ... SKOL!