This morning, I announced that I was going to see the Matrix movie this evening. Immediately, one of my coworkers informs me that it sucks and is a waste of time. Thankfully, she had the presence of mind to avoid spoiling the film. Well, I went anyway. Here are my opinions about the film. These need not be your opinions. Use at your own risk. I take no responsibility for the consequences of you reading my opinions. Batteries not included.
I went to the movie with my buddy Ron. We arrived at the theatre and had no trouble obtaining tickets. After hanging about a bit and having some food, we made our way to the auditorium and occupied two seats in the front row. For those of you wondering, we did not get cricks in our necks; the seats were quite comfortable and allowed for a sufficient amount of slouching to make the film watchable without physical discomfort.Then we watched the inevitable commercials and the trailers for various films. Then, the feature presentation began.
I won’t bore you with a retelling of the story since, no doubt, you have watched the film and formed your own opinions or you are going to watch the film and don’t want spoilers (in which case you should stop reading now), or you don’t care and it really won’t matter to you one way or the other. Needless to say, Ron and I watched the movie for the next two hours and a bit. As the final scenes were showing just before the credits, I remember saying to Ron, “I get it!”.
From the start, I found the movie engaging. The characters had a level of realness that you often do not find on the big screen. Yet they were still larger than life and felt fictional. After all, it’s a work of fiction. And this work of fiction was following the exploits of larger than life heroes. Yet none of this detracted from the fact that the story itself was engaging. The story was masterfully told by the filmmakers.
Taken together with Reloaded, Revolutions tells the story of, excuse the term, an epic struggle. This struggle is not, however, between good and evil. It is simply the struggle between one group of people and another for domination of a planet. Yet the struggle itself has all the earmarks of an armageddon, which, I suppose, it is in a awy.
We come into the story in Reloaded and discover a struggle to save the free city of Zion, the home of the only humans outside of the Matrix itself. Yet we soon encounter complications that pile one ontop of another, at the same time leading us away from the underlying conflict between one man and his opposite. This is as close as it comes to good versus evil as neither participant in this struggle fits into either category. Neo is not a paragon of virtue. Smith is not really evil. Yet they are opposites in their motivations; Neo is motivated by love while Smith is motiviated by the absence of love, perhaps hate.
Between the two movies, we see the conflict between men and machines as the central point yet it is not truly so. Throughout, we are faced with more and more human seeming machines. They make choices, suffer, risk their very existence to support a cause they belive in, yet we know not what this cause truly is. Yet as the story devlops, we see the rivalry between Neo and Smith develop as Neo comes to understand his true power and its consequences. And we learn that everything is about choices and consequences. We are treated to comical scenes that could be right out of other moves by other directors and dire fight scenes where desperate defenders fight against impossible odds. The requisite heroic moments are present yet we are presented with a situation where only a sort of deus ex machina can save them. This is the backdrop against which our hero and antihero fight.
As the scene becomes more and more hopeless, Neo faces the loss of everything he loves yet somehow goes on. He experiences so many of the cliches that powerful heroes encounter; losing one sense to discover another, and so on. He loses his true love yet manages to go on. He fights to save all of humanity not by fighting but by the opposite. He sues for peace in exchange for solving the problem of Smith. And he goes on to do so, sacrificing himself in the process.
Yet it seems clear that this is not the moral of the story. For while Zion is saved and peace exists between machines and men, we are treated to an important scene. A young program (an outcast) we met earlier in a train station, has survived. We meet two old acquaintances who have an exchange which leaves little doubt that Neo and Smtih, as powerful as they were, were simply pawns in greater struggle. A struggle for change among the machines. Indeed, when the oracle says, “I believed” in answer to a question about whether she knew what would happen, we begin to understand the true depth of the machines’ characters.
Thus, instead of what appears to be a somewhat disjoint stroy about the saving of humanity by the noble sacrifice of a small number of heroes, what we have is a truly magnificent and masterfully told story about change, choices, and consequences. For, indeed, change is present every step of the way through the story from the beginning when Neo follows the white rabbit to learn about Trinity and Morpheus right to the end when the war ends and peace exists. And choices, from the red pill or blue to Neo’s comment in response to Smith’s “Why?”. And the consequences of those choices from the betrayal in the first episode to Neo’s choice to yield to Smith in the end, consequences reign supreme.
Yet even with this heavy subject matter, we are faced with wonderful bits of back references and foreshadowing. From the Merovingian’s request for the “Oracle’s Eyes” when Trinity bargains to free Neo and Neo’s loss of sight in the battle with the Smith clone in the real world. The black cat in the first episode when Neo says “deja vu” to the black cat at the end when the Matrix is restored to beauty. These tidbits make the movie enjoyable as well as subtle.
All in all, I have to say that the Matrix trilogy ranks among the best stories I have had the opportunity to experience.