“The thing about stories, they never really end do they? We’re still telling the same stories we’ve always told, just with different names, faces.” A great meta quote that ends a probably overly meta scene (the WB mention is too much) but kicks off the film’s fascinating re-examination of narrative truth and fiction, identity and choice, binaries and in-betweens in an old but new world. As the plot picks up it stumbles though; the story mechanics are convoluted and the stakes feel strangely low.
There’s a lot of stuff packed into this plot and it’s hard to make sense of it all, but as a trilogy finale it has a satisfying amount of fittingly epic highs and lows (see the grueling battle for Zion, ominous and lonely lovers’ mission to the Machine City, the unique climactic deal and defeat) to go with its hit or miss philosophical quips (Agent Smith’s frustrated post-fight speech was a highlight: “You can’t win. It’s pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson? Why? Why do you persist?”).
It’s slow to load, with its first half marred by lifeless fight scenes (see the Chinatown fight which Neo just leaves after a while) and too much talking about who knows what (see the convos with the Oracle, Hamann), not to mention that over-indulgent dance/sex scene. On the freeway things pick up speed; the chase sequence is incredible and the final talk actually lands some philosophical punches (see Morpheus’ wind knocked out: “I have dreamed a dream, but now that dream has gone from me”).
A few glitches (some dated VFX, a cheesy romantic arc), but nothing major to make me not want to take the blue pill and escape my reality for a couple hours. The simple premise is juicy steak-scrumptious (see the breathtaking first wake-up scene), and the script walks with sunglasses-cool perfection the line between fun action movie and philosophical sci-fi laced with emotion (see pre-rescue: “[He] believes in something.. I understand that now.. because I believe I can bring him back”).
Pop quiz, hotshot: What is long but fast-paced, exciting but a bit ridiculous? Answer: a speeding bus that’s able to jump a giant gap in a freeway without a ramp. Also, this movie. Down-to-earth Annie pairs well with Jack’s cheesy action-machismo, but there are still a few groaner moments (see the aforementioned gap jump), and while the thrills pile on in a wonderful way (“What, you thought you needed another challenge or something?”), 3 major set pieces (elevator, bus, train) is one too many.
Two best friends living on the streets of Portland as hustlers embark on a journey of self discovery and find their relationship stumbling along the way. (IMDb)
Artistically, it’s a marvel, with an abundance of creative captures: The talking magazine covers, the sex motion-picture-stills, the stunning nature time-lapses, the bar shot half indoors, half window reflection. Story-wise, it’s a mixed bag: The outsider characters are unique and refreshing (Phoenix shines), but the narrative is choppy and often hard to follow. The Shakespearean second act drags, but the separation of Mike and Scott in the third act is poignant (see the contrasting funerals).
An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him. (IMDb)
The action and aesthetic here are excellent–the fight scenes are bountiful and brutal, backed by an unnerving soundtrack (“In My Mind” is particularly chilling) and a fittingly cold green look–but the story and characters leave things to be desired: The revenge plot feels a bit too basic (although it’s spiced with some morbidly humourous takes on hitman culture) and the only substantial character (Wick) feels all backstory–but the film’s short run time does offer some grace in these areas.
*If you noticed my absence, I’m flattered and surprised, and apologies for the lack of posts! I’ve been preoccupied with more important matters lately, like taking care of my wife and my newborn first child, Gemma! I’m a very proud papa, to say the least. And this next movie review (which had already been qued up before my wife went into labour) couldn’t be more appropriate:
The Buckman family is a midwestern family all dealing with their lives: estranged relatives, raising children, pressures of the job, and learning to be a good parent and spouse. (IMDb)
The script here is well-developed, and its multiple narrative strands are expertly pieced together; you get a really good feel for each of the characters (thanks also to a great cast), and the film never feels disjointed. The stories contain a nice blend of comedy and drama, never becoming too outrageous in either aspect, favouring realism over shock value, and they are capped off by a touching silent final scene as the family comes together to welcome yet another generation.