Ah, released from bondage and just in time to comment on the film of the moment. I think I’ve spotted a contradiction in The Matrix, one that will keep it from fulfilling its real intellectual and artistic ambitions.
When people speak in this film, it is always in grand, rhetorical flourishes. Lawrence Fishburn is the worst offender. He never actually says anything at all. He always declaims, a little like Jon Lovitz’s “actor” on Saturday Night Live. There’s no humor, no subtlety and no nuance.
Some of this comes, I would guess, from the directors’ devotion to comic books. After all, how many words can you get into a bubble? How many bubbles can you get into a frame. Language had to come in short sharp shocks.
But here’s the problem. The Matrix Reloaded has intellectual ambitions. It wants to take on big questions. It also wants to explore emotional relationships. But, wedded as it is, to this compacting rhetorical style everything ends up sounding a bit ludicrous, as if shot from a cannon.
The Matrix is supposed to be for Hollywood “the One,” the project that leads it into the glorious new future of film. But in an odd way it ends up reproducing Hollywood’s long standing difficulty: technical mastery unsupported by real narrative or dramatic finesse. Could it be that just as Hollywood is freeing itself from the limitations of the old models, the Matrix boys mean to reimprison it? Maybe the Matrix isn’t The One at all. Maybe it’s the Matrix.