Were you a fan of The Matrix Trilogy? Not just the original film, which was groundbreaking, exciting, and filled with action-packed goodness, but the two subsequent films, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. These two films are probably the most polarizing sequel films in science fiction history. They haven’t really gotten any better with time either, now being nine years removed from the release of The Matrix Reloaded in 2003. But were we judging these films based on expectations or actual content? One half of the Wachowskis, Lana Wachowski, chimes in with her explanation of why these two films were not as beloved as the original.
In an interview with co-directors Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer to promote the upcoming Cloud Atlas, Lana Wachowski explains why the last two Matrix films were so different from the first one. She says the films were supposed to reflect Neo’s (Keanu Reeves) journey through the Matrix and understanding his role as The One.
What we were trying to achieve with the story overall was a shift, the same kind of shift that happens for Neo, that Neo goes from being in this sort of cocooned and programmed world, to having to participate in the construction of meaning to his life. And we were like, ‘Well, can the audience go through the three movies and experience something similar to what the main character experiences?’
So the first movie is sort of classical in its approach, the second movie is deconstructionist and an assault on all the things you thought to be true in the first movie … and the third movie is the most ambiguous, because it asks you to actually participate in the construction of meaning.
It makes sense why the three films were constructed this way, but that doesn’t mean The Matrix Trilogy works as a whole. There are clear pacing and direction problems with The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions that cannot be fixed simply by clarifying the filmmaker’s intent. But for all the hullabaloo around the latter Matrix films, it doesn’t take away anything from the original. It is just as entertaining, thrilling, and thought provoking today as it was in 1999 when the film was first released. The original Matrix is a triumph of visual storytelling, cinematic technology, and it advanced the structure of modern action films. No lofty explanation from the Wachowskis can change that.
Watch the entire interview below. The Matrix sequel comments start at the 17-minute mark: