The Films of … The Wachowskis

A series about my favourite directors and their filmography.

In the late 1990s there was a maverick pair of siblings that exploded on the cinema screen with Bound (1996).  There were Larry and Andy Wachowski.  And since then, they, combined have written and directed films that have been celebrated within the industry and audiences, and some unfortunately have not.  Since 2010, they are known as Lana and Lily Wachowski respectively.

This list only reflects the films of the Wachowskis together, so Matrix 4 (2021) does not count as it was solely directed by Lana Wachowski. 

The Wachowskis entered the industry as scriptwriters and are attributed to working on the Assassins (1995) script, directed by Richard Donner.  Starring Sylvester Stallone and Antonio Banderas.  There was some controversy though, as the Wachowskis claimed that Brian Helgeland re-wrote their script, and they tried, but to no avail, to have their names removed from the film.

That didn’t hold them back because they came back with …

Bound (1996)

This is their writing and directorial debut.  Violet (Jennifer Tilly) longs to be free from her relationship with her mafioso boyfriend Caesar, (Joe Pantoliano) and enters an affair with the intriguing ex-con Corky (Gina Gershon). The two women then hatch a scheme to steal $2 million of Mafia money that Caesar was caretaking.

A film noir with a twist!  It is a well contained story that fits the genre, but it was a good idea to place two women in this genre, in mainstream cinema at that time.  Some studios, after reading the script, would have been happy to pursue the project if Corky became a man.  I’m glad that the Wachowskis stuck to their authentic selves and kept the script as so.

Dino De Laurentiis produced this film, giving the siblings free rein and a budget of $6 million.  This is also the only Wachowski’s film not distributed by Warner Brothers. 

The Matrix (1999)

A science fiction, action, cyberpunk film, stars Keanu Reeves as Thomas Anderson, a computer programmer by day, and as hacker, Neo at night.

Anderson/Neo finds himself meeting Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss), an infamous hacker, and soon becomes involved with a band of dissidents led by Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne).  They fight against the machines that have overtaken their world (now a dystopia), and have placed humanity unknowingly inside a simulated reality that is called the Matrix. This is used to distract humans, because their dormant bodies are being used as a power source.

Neo is recruited because Morpheus believes that he is the one to release humanity from the clutches of the machines.  One of the Matrix’s agents, Smith, is particularly drawn to stopping this from happening, causing consequential results.

The film made popular a visual effect known as “bullet time”, in which the heightened perception of certain characters is represented by allowing the action within a shot to progress in slow-motion while the camera appears to move through the scene at normal speed, allowing the sped-up movements of certain characters to be perceived normally.

The Matrix draws from and alludes to numerous cinematic and literary works, and concepts from mythology, religion and philosophy.

The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

The sequel of The Matrix, that follows Neo, a former hacker that realises his potential of saving the world from the machines, the artificial intelligence that has enslaved humans.

This film follows on six months later.  Neo and Trinity are now together as a romantic couple.  The sentinels are three days away from tunnelling into Zion, the real world, where the liberated people live away from the machines.  

Neo and Co. meet new characters along the way, as well as reuniting with others, like the Oracle (Gloria Foster).  She sends him on a mission to reach the source by finding the Keymaker, who is being held by the Merovingian (Lambert Wilson). 

Smith has now become a rogue programme due his encounter with Neo in the previous film, and seeking as many recruits as he can, because he now refuses to be deleted. 

Neo meets the Architect, the creator of the Matrix, who explains that as the One, Neo, himself is an intentional part of the design of the Matrix, which is now in its sixth cycle.

The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

The third film picks up exactly where Reloaded left off. Smith is in the body of Bane, who is now in Zion.  Neo is trapped in a subway station with a family of programs.  

The Merovingian is confronted by Morpheus, Trinity and Seraph and strong-armed into releasing Neo. It is revealed by the Oracle that Smith intends to destroy the Matrix and the real world.

From here on in it is only a matter of time before everything has to reboot as per the Architect’s long and tedious monologue from the previous film.

The Sentinels are closing in, everyone that can, fight against the machines. Neo and Trinity head to Machine City, with Bane/Smith stowed away. After the discovery of Bane and an obvious fight, Neo becomes blinded by Bane, but Neo can still see the machine source code and uses it to his advantage to kill Bane. Neo and Trinity arrive at Machine City and are attacked by the machines, costing the life of Trinity. Neo meets the leader of the machines in the form of the “Deus Ex Machina. They agree that Smith is dangerous and needs to be stopped, so the machines will leave Zion alone as long as Neo deals with Smith.

Which is exactly what happens. The Sentinels shut down, and Zion is saved. Neo has to fight Smith, and he has to lose.  Neo losing the fight, causes Smith to lose. And then BAM!!!

The Matrix is rebooted. The Architect meets the Oracle in a park. They agree that the peace will last “as long as it can” and that those humans who desire it will be offered the opportunity to leave the Matrix.

Speed Racer (2008)

Speed Racer is a sports action comedy film based on the 1960s manga and anime series of the same name. 

The plot revolves around Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch), an 18-year-old car racer who follows his apparently deceased brother’s career, choosing to remain loyal to his family and their company Racer Motors, which causes difficulties after he refuses a contract that E.P. Arnold Royalton, owner of Royalton Industries, offers him.

Very much a sensory overload with the vivid colours, I can appreciate the want to replicate a favourite animation into live screen, but maybe it really did miss the mark in my opinion. This film, however, has gathered a strong cult following with some calling it underrated and a misunderstood film.

Cloud Atlas (2012)

One of those adaptations of a book that allegedly cannot be adapted.  This is an example of how a book can be adapted according to me.  I acknowledge that cinematic wise, it was a little uncomfortable viewing at certain points, (white actors having to portray Asian people due to their characters), but I understood where they were coming from.

The story jumps between eras until each storyline eventually resolves, spanning hundreds of years. Writings from characters in prior storylines are found in future storylines. Characters appear to recur in each era, but change relationships to each other.  Abusers and slaves often change roles, suggesting reincarnation or a connection between souls throughout the ages.

With a star studded cast such as Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, this is a one of a kind epic story-telling, with each actor playing more than one character.

Jupiter Ascending (2015)

This film is a space opera by description.  Personally I found it to be a heroine’s story.

The film is about Jupiter Jones (Mila Kunis), an ordinary cleaning woman, and Caine Wise (Channing Tatum), an interplanetary warrior who informs Jones that her destiny is beyond Earth.

Earth, among other planets were established by families of trans-human and alien royalty for the purpose of harvesting the resulting organisms to produce a youth serum for the elites on other planets.

After the death of the matriarch of the House of Abrasax, the most powerful alien dynasty, her three children squabble over their inheritance. Meanwhile on Earth, Jupiter (named after her deceased father’s favourite planet) lives and works with her mother and extended family. She dreams of owning a telescope, so follows her cousin’s hair-brained scheme to sell her eggs, and then her journey begins. The aforementioned squabble was about the ownership of Earth. It turns out that Jupiter is genetically linked to the matriarch, thus making her the legal owner of Earth. The thing is, it was next in line for harvesting.

Which of the above films do you love to watch? Have I inspired you to watch any?  Let me know about your viewing experience.  It’s good to share!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s