REVIEWS by SULLYDOG

THE MATRIX

a film by the Wachowski Bros.

Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving and Joe Pantoliano. Directed by Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski. Produced by Andrew Mason and Joel Silver. Written by Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski.

A movie that puts the pistol back into epistemology...

Okay, you’ve probably seen this film. There’s been a lot of buzz about it: it’s hip, it’s flashy, it’s intelligent, and it’s crammed with wicked special effects and outrageous kung fu action.

 I liked it, too. But let’s face it: it’s also full of plot holes, it covers ground the literature left behind ten or fifteen years ago, and at times it lapses into the kind of cheesy Hong Kong action routines even Jackie Chan wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot bo staff.

A buddy of mine recently had a golden opportunity: an evening out with his wife and no kids. This poor dude hasn’t been to see a first-run movie since Ronald Reagan was writing the script for Star Wars. Hey Sully, what’s a good, rowdy movie to go see?

The Matrix!

Next day I ask him: didja likit? Naw, turns out his wife’s Dad had already seen it and told her He Didn’t Get It. So much for that.

They saw A Bug’s Life instead. Without the kids.

The purpose of this tragic little vignette is not to show you that pathos is alive and well in upper-middle-class America but to make the point that not everybody will "get" The Matrix. The movie starts out with a few assumptions, the most important being that you are not brain dead and that you will grasp the subtleties inherent in a story about a world of human beings enslaved in a virtual universe that looks very much like our own. You’d think that, in the Epoch of Dilbert, the implicit accusation that we, the viewers, have been willingly enslaved by a world of cubicles, cable bills and fast food wouldn’t be lost on folks, but such, alas, is not the case. So in the age of a Hollywood MegaMonolith that turns out crap like Armageddon and Wing Commander, the elaborate and coyly subversive pretext of The Matrix is remarkable for a start, and I hope the success of this film signals a new era in the production of big- budget sf films. Hey, a man can dream.

Having started with the Non-Brain-Dead-Audience Principle, filmmakers Larry and Andy Wachowski then feel free to go a little nuts with the special effects and the action sequences and the shooting and the killing and the kicking nd the punching....The film has a surging, kinetic pace, even during the expository sequences, and of course the action pieces are jaw-slackening. Which is good, because you need to get some speed up to get you over the yawning chasms in the plot. Like why the AI’s that rule the world need human body heat for energy when they could just build a few hundred nuclear reactors or sink a geothermal line. Or why our cybernetic oppressors would bother patrolling the ridiculously extensive sewers where they know the humans are hiding out instead of just filling them in or lobbing a few tons of hydrogen cyanide down the toilet.

But hey: hip dialog, rowdy action and gorgeous CGI can get the audience over a few rough spots. A hard-hitting, nastified, kickass soundtrack packed with raw tunes by the likes of Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and Rage Against the Machine doesn’t hurt either. After all, we’ve already established that we’re not playing to an audience of idiots, so we can either (a) fill in the plot holes scattered about our elaborate scenario or (b) show this svelte leatherclad babe put some serious kung fu hurt all over these virtual superpower bad guys while Prodigy lays down a vicious track of radical technoboogie sludge! Are you paying attention?

  William Gibson meets the Shaolin Temple Fists of Lightning Kung Fu Death.

Sullydog approves.

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