Saturday, January 04, 2014

Follow the White Rabbit

In which I ramble on about The Matrix and Hugo Weaving's teeth. No one can be told what the The Matrix is but there will be spoilers here...

Watched The Matrix the other night, for the first time in years. Well it was New Year's Eve, actually. Way to ring in the new year.

We all loved The Matrix, didn't we? It was different and gritty and science fictiony in a way we hadn't seen done well for a while. Then, a few years later, there were a couple of sequels that somewhat tarnished the original. Actually I've never seen the third one, that's why I wanted to rewatch the original. They're running them on ITV or somewhere. I fancied some of that. 

I really enjoyed most of it. For one thing I've always really liked Keanu Reeves, ever since seeing him in a film called Permanent Record (which I loved!). 

Anyway, The Matrix. I love the atmosphere of it. Future noir. Rain. Lightning. Blade Runner. Decay. Shabby hotels. Derelict buildings. Inside the matrix everything is grey and it rains every night. In the real world everyone wears sackcloth tops and eats something that looks like... Well, it don't look too tasty, let's just say. 

There's a rich sprinkling of philosophy, history and big ideas through the film. They turn out to be little more than a garnish, but they are there and they do provoke thought. 

I love the little details. The window cleaner's squeaky sponge when Neo is summoned to his bosses office for being late.

It's plain that the Wachowskis have a very special vision. 

Laurence Fishbourne, Joe Pantaliano and Hugo Weaving are just on fire. Terrific performances. Cypher's treachery especially is played with total conviction. I find it quite affecting that the character would rather live a fantasy as a battery than fight for survival in the real world. 

The idea of an insane artificial intelligence combined with Weaving's rabidly toothy performance as Agent Smith is top dollar. 

And Jebus but that Ericsson phone looked sexy with it's little swishy mouthpiece keypad cover thing.

I remember having the impression that Switch swapped genders between reality and the matrix but I didn't get that when rewatching. Maybe I was reading a bit too much into that (Nice idea though, with the self image avatars). 

So I was really having a great time. And then they start with the guns. Guns and guns and guns. 

They establish quite quickly that if you die in the matrix you die in the real world. So when Neo and Trinity start shooting the shit out of security guards and policemen those are real humans dying, yes? 'Cos only the agents are artificial. Right? 

We already know Neo and Trinity can hack the matrix. They know kung fu. Why do they need to massacre these guys? They could probably just run past them. No one but an agent gives them reason to pause. 

Is it for the spectacle? I don't remember how much I liked it in 1999 but it got kind of boring the other night. 

After that though it's all good to the end. The rescue of Neo and his battle with Agent Smith is dynamite. And I still love that closing Neo-does-Clark-Kent bit. 

I've spent over ten years thinking that The Matrix was a full on classic SF film but on rewatching I find it's just pretty damn good fun. Glossy but lacking in real depth. I am disappointed. 

I was never that fussed on number two, Monica Bellucci cameo aside (why didn't they get Vincent Cassel to play her husband????), so I hardly know whether to bother rewatching that now.  

I'd be interested to hear anyone else's opinions on the film. Have I lost the plot? Am I being too harsh? Clue me in.

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