I decided to re-watch the Matrix trilogy recently, more out of sheer boredom more than anything else. It was actually quite a revealing and cathartic experience for me, as it had been years since I’d seen them in full, and my opinions on all of the films changed as I was viewing them.
This is a very enjoyable franchise on the whole, and while I would agree that it gets lost in its themes and mythology later down the line, The Matrix is still one of Sci-Fi’s crowning achievements, and it remains a wholly entertaining franchise to this day.
A fourth one is on the way too (the trailer looks awesome, check it out!) so I might as well rank all of the films in the trilogy. Which one is best? Okay, you could probably guess that, but where would I rank the other two?
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3 – The Matrix: Revolutions
Even as a kid watching this one, I knew it was a disappointing ending to the franchise. I just remember every aspect of it being underwhelming and underdeveloped, and my opinion of it has gotten arguably worse after my re-watch.
First and foremost, this movie is soooo booooring. Every action scene is nowhere near as good as in the other two films – especially the “climactic” battle of Zion which ends up being a snoozefest – and it dials the random exposition and mythology up to eleven.
“Revolutions” is a film that does next to nothing right, and I’m not planning on ever watching it again. Hopefully the next Matrix can rectify some of this film’s mistakes.
2 – The Matrix: Reloaded
“Reloaded” went up in my estimations ever so slightly when I watched it again. I guess I must have lumped the paper-thin plot of this and “Revolutions” together, which is probably what dragged it down in my mind.
This was so close to even being on the “Good” tier, it impressed me that much. The action is still fantastic, and for the first two thirds of the film I was completely engaged in the plot and themes. It’s clearly not anywhere near as good as the original, but I was still having a blast.
Unfortunately, it all came crashing down in the third act. The plot suddenly becomes so convoluted and frustrating, especially Neo’s final confrontation with The Architect – I was audibly sighing and groaning as it all played out. This sudden plot development is why the Matrix sequels became laughing stocks, and it ruined a perfectly mysterious cinematic universe.
1 – The Matrix
I always remembered the Matrix being an excellent film, but when I re-watched it recently I forgot just how magnificent it truly was. This is one of the most perfect Sci-Fi films ever made, and everything about it from the action to the themes work on every level.
Let’s talk about the action first, and my goodness is it jaw-dropping; none of it felt gratuitous, as every encounter had immense stakes that draw you into the fully-realised plot and characters. In terms of individual scenes: Neo learning Kung Fu is awesome, Morpheus’ rescue is mesmeric, and the subway fight between Neo and Agent Smith might just go down as the best 1v1 in movie history.
However, the thing that takes it up a level is the worldbuilding and themes. All of the action scenes and climactic moments have a distinct purpose, and they all have a setup and payoff within the story that culminates in the most satisfying way possible. Every line of dialogue felt completely necessary and engaging, and it really fulfils your sense of wonder and amazement. It all works on a molecular level, and the Wachowskis managed to construct the most pixel-perfect Sci-Fi Action film ever – let’s hope they manage to do it again for Matrix 4.
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