Minutia Madness: The Matrix Reloaded Edition
By Bret Dorman
(As always, SPOILERS! may apply to the movie (and the entire trilogy) in discussion.)Everyone knows what makes a movie good. Blurbs like “compelling”, “powerful”, and “explosive non stop thrill ride that will leave you on the edge of your seat!” are common place on movie posters. In reviews (including my own) people point out how the direction is “great”, how the writing is “awesome”, and how the acting is “wonderful”. Every once in a while you can find a really great essay from a smart film critic (a real one) or film maker that actually explains why a movie is good and helps you as a viewer become a better film watcher.
But what about those small moments that fall in between the cracks? I understand the need to talk about a movie in the broad sense, its the easiest most SPOILER! free way of saying if you liked or didn’t like a movie. I prefer people to talk in specifics, to actually know why something is good or bad. But this goes beyond all that. This is blowing the tiniest detail way out of proportion. This is what makes me a film nerd. This is Minutia Madness!!!
The Matrix Reloaded
Written and Directed by The Wachowskis
I am fully aware that The Matrix Reloaded is commonly referred to as a mess and not just a weak sequel, but VASTLY inferior to its predecessor. I’m not going to try and defend the movie as a whole or justify its place in the trilogy. It’s not perfect, but it’s underrated. We’ll just leave it at that.There are plenty of religious themes in The Matrix Trilogy. Some subtle and some overt. Some Eastern and some Western. The Matrix chronicles Neo’s awakening and realization that he is The One. The Matrix Reloaded starts with him pwning 3 agents without breaking a sweat (although he does have to use two hands). This sudden jump from newbie to expert is non-coincidentally similar to Jesus in The Bible and how he disappeared for a chunk then came back and pwned 3 wise men… or something like that. The point is, now Neo IS The One and not only does he know it, he acts like it.
Later there is a scene where the gang is all trapped. Neo tells Morpheus and Trinity to run while he handles the situation (“Handle us? You’ll handle us?!”). As The Keymaker runs through the myriad of doors murmering “Another way, always another way” (Love the way he mumbles it and the mentality his character has knowing his “power” and purpose, which fits in to the ultimate point I’ll make), Morpheus and Trinity give chase while being chased by The Twins. Here is their segment:
Everyone else in The Matrix is always so concerned about Neo’s well being. They treat him like a bubble boy. If they could they would keep him locked up for his own safety. The Catch-22 there is they need him to save the entire human race, possibly at the expense of his own life. It’s not as if Morpheus doesn’t care about Neo, but he knows Neo is far beyond a normal man. He is The One for crying out loud! Morpheus knows that HE will probably need to be saved by Neo instead (which happens). And it’s nice to see writers who stick with a character’s mentality; look at the situation through their eyes. Too many times in Hollywood Blockbusters will I see characters with paper thin belief systems or a complete disregard for consistent character traits. Here, Morpheus is smart enough to realize he’s moved on from teacher (philosophical) to leader (direct). He leads Neo into a situation and if it gets dangerous, Neo is the one who gets them out.
Morpheus is the best character of The Matrix. I mean, I like Neo, he’s a fine main character, but I like it when movies really take time out to explore and expand on side characters. His swagger as he walks away from the door, allowing the other twin in, is full of a “fuck you” calm confidence in his ability to get out of the situation. The moment for the day though is Morpheus’ line after Trinity, who is in love with Neo, expresses her concern for him. Morpheus, in the middle of a fight, assuredly replies, “He can handle himself.” Boom. Such a small straight-forward response from someone who usually speaks in philosophical conundrums. Yet it fits the character so well.
Morpheus has another great moment like this near the beginning of Revolutions. It’s a scene where Trinity, Seraph, and Morpheus’ plan has gone awry, so Seraph, being the ever loyal companion to The Oracle, states they need to go regroup and get her advice. Morpheus counters with his own plan. Seraph is basically a glorified bodyguard/errand boy (albeit an awesome one with a second name like Wingless). So it makes sense that when faced with a problem he seeks The Oracle’s input. Morpheus however is a natural born leader. When he is faced with a problem, he solves it. He knows what he is capable of and what those around him can accomplish. He sees the bigger picture. It’s why he ‘sacrifices’ himself in the bathroom fight in the first (both to save Neo and give him a reason to realize his abilities). It’s why he tells Trinity not to worry about Neo in the second. And why he, not Seraph, knows what to do in the third. My only complaint is that in the third he literally moves over to co-pilot and becomes significantly less important to the story.The entire trilogy is filled with some of the best fight scenes captured on film. I understand the notion that The Burly Brawl is “not exciting” because Neo can simply fly away but the true threat lies in Smith using the people Neo is trying to save as an overpowering weapon against him. Neo defeated him once and can now only run away while Smith continues to spread and infect. The Super Burly Brawl contains all the weight of Smith vs Neo, two forces so powerful when they fly through the air and punch each other, they create force-punch-rain-spheres. The journey of Neo is also interesting, as he learns to strengthen his mind (green), body (blue), and soul (yellow) and how at the end, after his ultimate sacrifice, these colors for the first time in the trilogy appear together on screen in the form of light shinning through a stained glass window. The third movie is a bit muddled and clunky, but the overall ambition in special effects, philosophy, and scope make The Matrix Trilogy more than just three movies out for a cash grab. And Morpheus’ tried and true character shows the Washowskis paid attention to the little things instead of haphazardly throwing everything about.
So what do you think? Is Morpheus’ faith in Neo worthy of following? Or am I just crazy for focusing on this minute detail?