By Stephanie Zacharek
By Chris Packham
By John Anderson
By Nick Schager
By Anna Dimond
By Chris Klimek
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Alan Scherstuhl
My noggin has never been so thrillingly detonated in a theater as it was from watching the Matrix’s “bullet time” sequences. The staff of McClurg Court Cinemas in Chicago would still be picking my gray matter out of the ceiling had the theater not been closed shortly afterwards due to competition from AMC’s
new multiplex nearby.
But just as The Matrix is about technology run amock, the Wachowskis themselves allow it to get the better of them. Abandoning sets for Speed Racer was a mistake, and watching the characters float within the computer-generated worlds is not fun or quirky, but distracting. CGI characters in The Matrix sequels look rubbery—re-watch the playground fight scene in Reloaded to see Neo briefly turn into Stretch Armstrong while battling regenerating Agent Smiths.
The most evident thread that runs throughout the Wachowskis’ films isn’t any of the things mentioned above in those neat little compartmentalized sections. In fact, those divided passages are a good way of demonstrating the types of things the filmmakers never do.
The Wachowskis are devout followers of the basic tenets of storytelling. It is noteworthy that the novel Cloud Atlas is a fragmented series of stories and that the Wachowskis rewrote it to fit the conventions of filmmaking. Their movies are all tightly constructed narratives. They may get fancy with special effects or action, but they refuse to divert from quaint, old-fashioned mythmaking.
Their heroes, be they computer hackers, racecar drivers, or lesbian ex-cons, always behave as heroes. This means plenty of backs-against-the-wall escapes when you least (read: most) expect it and other tropes lots of folks dismiss as hokey or cheesy nowadays. But the Wachowskis are really damn good at it.
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