Review by Trylon volunteer Dave Berglund
In the decade following the release and subsequent canonization of The Matrix, the film was regularly referenced as a key discussion text for the intersection of film and existential philosophy. Five years after the film’s theatrical run, I keenly remember seeing images from the film plastered on textbooks in my college’s bookstore, and hell, even Oxford contributed a tome of their own in this vein. Further, the Christian circles I was in spoke of the film in reverent tones as quite possibly film’s most dynamic Christ allegory. (And one without nudity or too much language, to boot!) As a result, I also heard through the grapevine that a number of megachurches had approvingly incorporated a discussion of the film into the content of their sermons.
Now, it is instructive to assess the reasons for this phenomenon, because in revisiting the film, it seems to me the Wachowskis were clearly more concerned with making a bad-ass movie than deeply exploring any such stuffy concepts. Academic circles may have simply attempted to use the film as a gateway to reach disinterested students, but I would venture to say there is something more interesting going on here. As the film does indeed contain the broad groundwork for a discussion of existential philosophy and Christology, perhaps many who unavoidably enjoyed the film viscerally as a shoot-em-up sci-fi flick simply felt more satisfied in their love for the film if they chose to discuss its metaphysical framework. After all, not many people want to brag about how much they loved the latest Expendables, but comparably it proves damn near dignified to champion The Matrix. It was the perfect movie for the closeted action lover: those who are afraid to admit they like seeing a good showdown. The film not only provided conversation fodder to debate and dissect, it was also purely entertaining and blowed things up real good at just the right times and in just the right ways.
In an age with Christopher Nolan pumping out films with similar reality-bending concepts, it is easy to assume that The Matrix would feel a bit stale at this point, but it is important to remember that despite the tenor of the conversations it fueled, this film is not imbued with Nolan’s sometimes imperious sense of self-importance. This film is from the mind of the Wachoskis, after all – it is first and foremost an action melodrama. Indeed, this is a film in which Keanu Reeves downloads kung fu skills directly to his brain and is then given an unlimited arsenal of high tech weaponry. I implore you, remember and revisit this film not because it is profound, but because it found a logical way for this silly, pure awesomeness to happen. — Dave Berglund
The Matrix screens Monday and Tuesday, April 6 and 7, at 7:00 and 9:30 at the Trylon. Advance tickets are $8.00, and you can purchase them here.