I remember, on more than one occassion, jumping to the defense of The Matrix: Reloaded. Shitty title, yes, but people were talking about what a terrible movie it was — but it wasn’t terrible. I liked to say that it was the Anna Kornikova of movies — Anna Kournikova was a great tennis player she just sometimes seemed to be not that great compared to some of the other professional tennis players at the time.
That line of reasoning was fresh with me from the old sit-com, Norm, where an ex-hockey player was continuing his life as a social worker. When someone accused him of being a terrible hockey player, he stopped them and pointed out, “No, I was a great hockey player. I was just terrible compared to all the other professional hockey players!”
But so it was with The Matrix: Reloaded. It was a great action movie, it was just terrible compared to The Matrix. For me, that highway scene was worth the whole movie. What an amazing scene!
And that little bit of dialogue between Trinity and Morpheus:
Trinity: You always told me the highway was suicide!
Morpheus: Then let us hope… that I was wrong.
Goodness, I loved Laurence Fishburne’s delivery as Morpheus.
What made The Matrix so much better is that it could pass as a film. It wasn’t just a good Action movie or a good Science Fiction movie — it was a good movie. Full stop. While its sequel was really only a good Action movie (which is not the same, really, as being a good movie).
And then there was The Matrix: Revolutions. That was just stupid. The action scenes dragged on, the quality of the plot and dialogue degraded further, they turned the whole arc into a poorly veiled Jesus story. In both sequels, the chemistry between Neo and Trinity seemed forced, and so Revolutions wasn’t even a good Action movie. It was one of those movies, like Star Wars: The Force Awakens (a shitty movie!), that was relying on you wanting to like it; getting by on nostalgia and a pre-existing investment and popularity of its characters. Not good enough. Not nearly.
I always thought that the last two movies failed because they expanded on the weaker aspects of the original story. Like, how much heat and electricity do cows generate? Wouldn’t it be easier to use cow batteries, and make a (very simple) matrix fro cows?? We could let that slide in the first movie, because there was so much going on and the backstory to the premise didn’t keep jumping in your face. But once we meet the Architect, and all that other shit? The Zion loop? Really? That’s the best solution the machines could come up with? And, oh, dear, it was stupid. What a problem, the plot became. Things just didn’t make sense, and they quickly became less cool.
The Wachowski Brothers didn’t seem to know what made the first one good, because they didn’t continue to do the right things in the next movies.
But The Matrix is still a great movie, The Matrix Reloaded is still a great action movie (even if it has a stupid title), and The Matrix: Revolutions still sucks.
Just like Anna Kournikova was a great tennis player. Just not so obviously so, compared to the other professional tennis players.
(I can’t help but wonder what she thought of those movies — or if she even watched them.)