What Kind Of Sick Mind Would Dream Up Another Matrix Flick?

Just for the record, the reported Matrix reboot isn’t a reboot. Or a sequel or any kind. Four days ago screenwriter Zak Penn explained on Twitter that the screenplay he’s planning will be some kind of stand-alone, alternative-universe, Logan-like thing. Okay, fine.

But why would anyone want to make another film with the word “Matrix” in it at all? It’s been nearly 14 years since the double-shot poison cocktail of The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions killed this franchise but good. Why would anyone want to drink from the same glass again? And yet Penn and Warner Bros. execs are willing to hold their noises and cobble something together in order to make money.

From “Shoulda Quit When They Were Ahead“, posted roughly three years ago: “I remember paying to see the original The Matrix in the old multiplex at the Beverly Connection, on the southeast corner of La Cienega and Beverly Boulevard. It was opening weekend, and I remember floating out of the theatre and listening to the chatter as the crowd trudged down the stairway exit. A visionary knockout. The first grade-A cyber adventure. Bullet time, baby! Obviously a hit.

“For the next four years I was convinced that the press-shy Wachowskis, who’d also directed the brilliant and hot-lesbo-sexy Bound, were pointing the way into 21st Century cinema and that everything they would henceforth create would dazzle as much as The Matrix, if not more so.

“And then The Matrix Reloaded came out a little more than four years later (5.15.03) and the millions who’d flipped over The Matrix were standing around with dazed expressions going “wait…what? ” And then The Matrix Revolutions opened on 11.5.03 and that was it…dead, finished, imploded. Larry and Andy who?

“We’re approaching the four-year anniversary of the final collapse of the Matrix theology that came with the release of The Matrix Revolutions, ” I wrote on 8.27.07. “Too bad it’s not the fifth anniversary or I could tap out a stock-taking piece. It was a pretty amazing meltdown; hard to believe it all happened the way it did.

“Are the second and third Matrix films still the most despised and discredited franchise films ever made? Is there anyone in the world except for the 300 or 400 remaining Wachowski geeks out there who’s even watched Matrix Reloaded or Matrix Revolutions on DVD over the past three or four years?

“I wrote a piece called “Neo Schmeo” that summed it all up back in October 2003:

“I never would have guessed after getting my first look at The Matrix — a movie that freed my heart and made me levitate — that the sequels-to-come would turn out as badly as they have.

“Now the word is spreading like a huge fart and it’s all over but the revenues. This franchise went spiritually belly-up after the release of The Matrix Reloaded last summer, and now here’s The Matrix Revolutions to drive the final stake in and kill it for good. The legend, the faith, the magic…dead.

“You may be able to figure out most of what’s going on in Revolutions…or not. Point is, if your experience is anything like mine you’re going to stop caring anyway because you’re going to find yourself realizing with a jolt you’re totally done with looking at Carrie Ann Moss and fat Larry Fishburne doing that deadpan superhero thing in those shades and leather outfits.

“It hit me around 25 minutes in. I said to myself, ‘I’m done. I don’t want to watch this shit any more…ever.” I see the Matrix Reloaded DVD on the shelves at my local DVD store and a thought never even occurs to me about renting it. I don’t want to look at a scene, a snippet…nothing.

“I could go on for six or seven paragraphs trying to pick through what made sense to me and what I’m still trying to figure out, but why should I write anything in this column that will pay even an oblique tribute to something I believe everyone should wash their hands of?

“I saw Keanu Reeves in Nancy MeyersSomething’s Gotta Give last night (i.e., Monday) and I was so grateful he wasn’t wearing his leather Neo outfit I almost teared up. He looked so normal and natural and regular guy-ish. Considering the metaphorical implications made me feel light in the head.

“It doesn’t matter what Revolutions makes. Either it gets people where they live (like The Matrix did) or it doesn’t. Millions are going to go this weekend and what of it? Ticket sales don’t mean anything. Not with big-studio tentpolers.

The Matrix Revolutions is like a bowl of narrative spaghetti, meant to be savored (I presume) for being a wonderful tangle that geek boys can dive into and try to put together in some fashion. But there is no one strand that leads to any kind of thematic core or foundation that seems to support the whole thing. The story hasn’t been told — it’s been heaped upon us like some kind of bizarre attack of live pasta and CGI squid.

“The big attack sequence on Zion is too overwhelming to make much of an impact. Too many millions of sentinels, no way of keeping score, and I don’t want or need this in my life.

“”I know this: When inquiring minds feel they need to compare notes in order to get their heads straight about what may or may not have happened story-wise, which I was doing with friends in front of the Fox Village last Thursday night and then on the phone and internet after that, the movie hasn’t done its job.. Journo after journo raised their eyebrows and gave me that ‘look’ after the all-media screening.

“One guy said, ‘Oh, well…!’ Another said, ‘I hated it!’ Another said, ‘Who was that big Wizard of Oz guy with the big deep voice at the end? Where was he during the last two installments…?’

“The single best bit in the whole thing is when Neo tries running on foot out of the train station, and finds himself right back where he started a second later.

“The second best scenes in the film both belong to Hugo Weaving. His scene with the Oracle, and his scene at the end when he talks about the meaninglessness of it all, blah, blah. That was great.

“They should have left it alone with the original The Matrix, and been proud of that triumph, and gone on to something new and fresh. But no — Joel and the boys and Keanu Reeves wanted to make all that money. And money’s all they’re going to get.”

  • SaulPaul

    Revolutions was admittedly a big letdown, but I always loved Reloaded. I’m in the minority, I know. Part 2 was fuckin’ cool. I wasn’t really disappointed until Part 3.

    • Raygo

      I think I have the same recollection. I’d have to rewatch to make sure … eh … that’s never going to happen. I still remember the agony of watching whatever mess they were trying to pass off as a cohesive part of the first film. A truly awful film going experience.

    • Yeah, I’d go along with that. It had some iffy parts, but RELOADED was mostly really cool. REVOLUTIONS was the absolute kiss of death, though – one of the very few movies I bailed out on in the theater.

    • alexandercoleman

      “Reloaded” definitely has some flaws and a bumpiness to the narrative, but it also boasted some legitimately cool concepts and eye-popping setpieces.

    • Hardcore Henry V

      Yup — was going to write something similarly, and was wondering if anyone else had the same (minority) opinion.

      Reloaded surely ain’t great, but it is great in fits. It’s nutty in a Fifth Element-kinda way, and a kitchen-sink sequel in a BTTF Part 2-kinda way.

      I realize that’s more or less most film fans’ idea of Hollywood jizz-whizz, but what’s the last MOR American blockbuster that had this much off-the-wall showmanship?

  • Padre la Tiempo

    The kiss of death was that the series started out in the anything goes, ultra-slick, bullet time kung fu badass world of the Matrix and the sequels ended up spending way too much of their time in an awful burlap sweat soaked dystopia of dirty, smelly, oily, and above all completely unlikable savages.

  • Scott Thomas

    While I don’t see the need for any more – I’m just not as angry at the films anymore. Reloaded always made me angrier as it just seemed to suddenly go in such weird directions so quick. But I still like it as a trilogy. If I can enjoy Indiana Jones and the terrible temple of doom and Star Wars with the terrible return of the Jedi – then I can get through these.

    • THX11384EB

      Temple of Doom is like Lawrence of Arabia compared to the Matrix sequels.

      • TEMPLE OF DOOM is an awful lot of fucking fun! I love the almost feverish, un-PC pulpiness of it.

      • fitz-hume

        ‘Temple of Doom’ is a rousing piece of entertainment. If you’re not off-put by Kate Capshaw’s character’s shrieking and helplessness that is. I’m not.

  • lazarus

    They bit off more than they could chew, and after The Matrix dominated The Phantom Menace in the zeitgeist (despite making a lot less money), I feel like George Lucas had the last laugh when Revenge of the Sith was received more warmly than Revolutions, and still grows in stature while the latter has few apologists.

    Having said that, I think Speed Racer is one of the most innovative films in decades, an absolute pop masterpiece, and Cloud Atlas, despite its flaws, has brilliance in spades.

    The Wachowskis aren’t done yet.

    • blake011

      I don’t think that Lucas had the last laugh. Revenge of the Sith has all the problems that other prequels specifically terrible dialogue and acting. Same goes for Revolutions. Frankly nothing Lucas did in the prequels touched what Matrix did. I of course now know all the influences but wow when I saw Matrix for the first time I knew I saw something very special and new.

    • Alboone

      Two big giant problematic elements that drag Speed Racer down. 1…Emile Hirsch is too bland in the role, no spark, nada, a literal watching the paint dry performance. 2…the action is inscrutable, way too frenetic to its detriment that you literally can’t follow it. That is the death knell for any action movie in my opinion. Some scenes pop, but as a whole it doesn’t work.

  • Dr. New Jersey

    Obviously, The Matrix is a much better film than the first Pirates film, but I had the same reaction after watching Matrix Reloaded as I did after watching Dead Man’s Chest. “Never again.” And I didn’t see Matrix III or Pirates III and I’m certainly not seeing any that come in the future.

  • Mark

    With the pending and accepted VR takeover, the kernel idea of the matrix seems passé. Like yeah, duh, this isn’t real.

  • Grampappy Amos

    I don’t get it. For me (and you, I assume), 90% of these reboots are unnecessary. Particularly because they are almost always aimed at 20 year old’s with little attention span. You know they are never going to be in your wheelhouse. On the other hand, Nicole Kidman was pretty damn good last night.

  • Josh Tate

    What they ought to do is basically just remake the Matrix with a young unknown actor. The first time he encounters an agent, it turns out to be Keanu Reeves — the point being that the Matrix learns from its own mistakes and re-creates its own version of “The One” with each iteration. The subtext of that, of course, is that Huge Weaving was “The One” before Reeves. At the end of the movie, Reeves, Weaving and the new Neo fight the AI that is ultimately behind the Matrix and end the cycle once and for all.

    • TerryKeefe

      Good call.

  • Hardcore Henry V

    “I saw Keanu Reeves in Nancy Meyers‘ Something’s Gotta Give last night (i.e., Monday) and I was so grateful he wasn’t wearing his leather Neo outfit I almost teared up. He looked so normal and natural and regular guy-ish.”

    LoL, wut? This is a guy that specializes in stoic saviors (Neo, Little Buddha, Johnny Mnemonic), paranoid weirdos (Scanner Darkly, My Own Private Idaho, Neon Demon), aloof hitmen (John Wick), laconic stoners (Ted Logan), and various combinations of the above.

    The only time I can really remember him playing a “normal dude” was in Speed, and that’s just because De Bont (smartly) leaned on his physicality, and basically avoided any inkling of character development altogether.

  • San Diego Cinerama

    There’s a theory that WB has seen early JUSTICE LEAGUE footage… And this is the result of that.

  • TerryKeefe

    The problem with Reloaded is that it disregards the rules of the universe set up in the first one. At the end of the Matrix, Neo is supposed to be like God in the Matrix, and he says he’s going to show the people the truth, or something like that. There really appears to be nowhere to go from there and no need for a sequel, narratively at least. In Reloaded, Neo suddenly has been downgraded powerwise, and it makes no sense. He has the power of a superhero in the Matrix, but he still can’t beat all his opponents easily, and he sure can’t rework the world as he pleases. There is a script online for The Matrix Reloaded, which has the Wachowski’s name on it, and is presented as an early draft, but I’ve also read that it is a fan script. At any rate, it would have been a much better film and would have followed the first film much more coherently. If I remember correctly, Neo is a God in the Matrix, and he’s still given the ultimate conundrum. I won’t remember this exactly, but there is skyscraper in the Matrix that needs to be destroyed in order to free everyone’s minds from the Matrix. But if Neo destroys it, hundreds of millions will also die in the process. There are ideas that carried over in the Reloaded film, such as that Neo was not the first “One” and that other “Ones” couldn’t bring themselves to destroy the building either. The destruction of Zion in Reloaded was cool, but by that point, all the rules of the universe had been disregarded and it was all a clusterbomb of narrative threads.

  • Peter Bongo

    The problem with the Matrix sequels is that once you actually SEE the fabled Zion and discover that it’s basically just a big underground Burning Man rave, you not only don’t care anymore, you actually ROOT for its destruction.

  • Ben Kabak

    Worst two sequels of all time. Completely ruined the first movie.