It’s certainly hard to learn things the same way you have to study for a test, getting that A-grade is a challenge you need to work your most aggressive at. Yet all the knowledge you acquire from school doesn’t mean squat if you don’t know how to use it outside the classroom. It’s a type of “living what you preach” practice that would immediately discredit any leader or political figure if s/he is not doing it. There are several science fiction films out there that understand what happens when you have all the knowledge but don’t know how to apply it, such as Ex Machina, and there are others that understand what happens when you go out into the battlefield but know nothing in preparedness, such as Her. This classic definer of action and science fiction though has neither; The Matrix can neither understand the path it’s headed, nor is it walking that path.
The first thing that always got on my nerves about this movie is the fact that there’s no conflict in the dialogue, it’s all just question-and-answer. Because of this writing style, you never actually get to know any of the characters, which also is in part because of the obnoxious editing. The fashion of stitching the shots and scenes together appears to be all style and no substance, just there to make the characters look really good, so the necessary components to a good edit are not there. For instance, one shot into the next scene cuts a millisecond after a piece of dialogue is said, leaving absolutely no time to digest the critical information just said. The action would have looked way better had it been edited plainly instead of being all gimmicky with its unnecessary freeze-spin around Trinity’s kick in the air. These technical components can’t blur lines between dreams and reality because it’s inaccurate to what a realistic future for the world would be like—there’s all this product placement for brands that were popular at the time!
While exploring this pointless world, its core audience is most likely not going to buy into the whole “Alice in Wonderland” motif. Those lines referring to Lewis Carroll’s novel should have been left out to make more room for Neo’s parallels to Jesus. Those parallels though come off pretty well, starting with his introductory scene as he’s called one’s personal “Jesus Christ,“ and it takes on some deeper meaning when the path he chooses to walk brings this line back in a powerful way. Likewise, Morpheus knows the difference between knowing your path and walking it, that knowing your path means just understanding the electric signals in your brain that define what’s real, and that walking it means taking action.
Similarly, it exposes how a business operated in 1999, how when the employee had a problem, the company had a problem. As long as you don’t see it as a dated product of its time, you could maybe see it as a timely commentary of its time (but that’s a big maybe). It’s got a few other concepts about humanity that are correct. Connecting it to my experience, I have met a lot of people in my life, as of now I’ve had fifteen roommates and counting, so I know how scary it is when you can’t speak, either because of someone else or because you don’t want to speak to someone else. That’s why it’s so scary in the moment Neo gets his mouth stitched shut, a small detail that makes the iconic pills-through-the-sunglasses shot so memorable, as it pays off the fear and insecurity Neo felt up to that point.
The movie’s not really about the social commentary though, it’s all about the action, which it admittedly does pretty well. The neat action includes kung-fu and a western showdown in a subway, even if the sad moments between these scenes are cheesy, you can tell all the hard work in fight choreography paid off! The marble lobby of square columns serve as a fantastic stage for a gunfight despite the dreadful CGI bullet shells. It gets especially nerve-racking when Neo’s on the edge of the building and the phone drops, you feel that sense of danger in falling. Those senses of fear are set as a juxtaposition against the sexy black clothes that pop against the signature hue of green, which in this case highlights those trapped in the world of the Matrix and how they got there. It sets you off guard as you feel like you’re in a world more insane than the Truman Show.
Though like all the characters, Morpheus is only there to give Neo (ahem, the audience) plot information... and make goofy faces when in agony. As he talks, thunder rumbles during key line reveals and moments, it’s actually quite contradictory to what these characters are trying to act like, and makes it impossible to take Morpheus’s words seriously, kind of like the romance between Neo and Trinity, which is so forced and painful, as if written in last minute; of course love wins in the end (ugh). There is no sense of community either between the rest of crew on the Nebuchadnezzar, they all just act confused when they’re together—but what would you expect in a place where humans are no longer born, but grown by machines? What would you expect in a movie that believes man evolves without any evidence of that? How do all these buildings on a single block conveniently have the exact same number of stories? Don’t give me the obvious answer, I get that it’s to make jumping across the rooftops easier, but that’s lazy. With these questions and more needing to be asked throughout the viewing process, the absence of a human genetic code in turn means an absence of humanity in this non-story.
Its shallow characterizations are done in the exact same way that the emoji characters in The Emoji Movie are specifically designed to be more energetic and livelier than the few human characters. The way it designs the world of the Matrix is designed to look more exciting than our human world the same way Ready Player One does it. It’s honestly shameful that The Matrix picked up the reputation of being a classic, even one of the greatest films of the 1990s, for movies like this want to think humanity has no potential to be greater than they really are, and might as well let machines to all the work for them.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Britt, Ryan. “7 CLASSIC SCI-FI INFLUENCES ON THE ORIGINAL THE MATRIX.” Digital image. SyFy, 29 Aug 2019. Web. <https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/7-classic-sci-fi-influences-on-the-original-the-matrix>.
The Matrix. Warner Bros. Web. <https://www.warnerbros.com/movies/matrix/>.