5. Speed Racer (2008)
Pairing the Wachowskis with a difficult to film IP with a large following seemed like a gold-mine back in 2008, even with the relative lack of success seen with their sequels to The Matrix. But, in reality, the project never took off in the way the siblings, and studio Warner Bros., would have hoped.
Speed Racer was so full of not-too-authentic looking CG effects that the effects ultimately became distracting from an actually quite okay series of ideas/moments that made the lacklustre story not so hard to stomach. The movie was, in fact, so over-the-top visually that the entire premise of a boy racer (Emile Hirsch) wanting to become the champion of a futuristic version of Nascar seemed like a side thought, and megapower actors like Susan Sarandon were entirely forgettable for their presence. One of the biggest issues to come out of this was that the film was 2 hours and 15 minutes long, which is too long for such an absurdly ridiculous presentation, likely putting off casual audiences who would otherwise have been anxious to see what the fuss was all about. Somewhat inevitably, the over-the-top project was a box office bomb that failed to make its production budget of $120million back, landing the Wachowskis with their first major failure of their career despite it being considerably better than their conclusion to The Matrix franchise (and Jupiter Ascending which followed 7 years later).
4. The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
The Matrix Reloaded was undoubtedly a better movie than The Matrix Revolutions which followed it in the same year, 2003. It was nowhere near as good as the original film, but it wasn’t irredeemable, and therefore left hope for the series’ conclusion that unfortunately for Matrix fans was never fulfilled.
Reloaded is perhaps best remembered in contemporary culture for two reasons: one good and one bad. The bad reason is the Playstation 2 level graphics that seemed to render a particularly notorious fight scene between Neo and Agent Smith. The scene, which featured countless Agent Smiths versus Neo in what should have been a battle for the ages, was so awful that it has become the centre of many criticisms regarding the picture in the years that have followed. Never, at any point, did The Matrix (released 4 years prior) look so unconvincing, so why did this have to? The answer is one we are likely never to learn. As far as the good goes, Reloaded had an all-time great chase sequence. Filmed across 4 miles of highway used exclusively for the film, the sequence was largely done in reality by stunt doubles, stunt drivers, and so on, contrasting the CG-driven scene that has been so heavily criticised. The sequence, which is again in the midst of an Agent Smith and Neo battle, is nothing short of phenomenal and stands up against anything in the contemporary market, with Captain America: Civil War emulating its style for its chase scene between Black Panther, the Winter Soldier and Captain America in 2016.
Reloaded brought into play more universe building story strands that didn’t seem to gain the interest many of the original’s strands had received, perhaps indicating an overload in terms of concepts required to fully appreciate the film’s overarching story – a lesson the directorial pair failed to learn in advance of Jupiter Ascending.
3. Bound (1996)
Bound is by far the least well known of the Wachowski movies. It was their first co-directed feature-film, released 3 years prior to their mega-success The Matrix. The picture, which told the tale of two female criminals attempting to steal millions of dollars worth of mob money, was indicative of what was to come from the duo in the decades that followed in terms of its representation and overall demeanour. Right out of the blocks, the Wachowskis were the Wachowskis. There was no substitute.
Starring Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon, Bound was a small independent release that failed to make a splash at the box office but received critical praise across the board for its effective story-telling and its female-centric presentation, the latter of which made it somewhat iconic in lesbian cinema. It may not have been the cultural phenomenon that some of the other releases on this last have been, and it may not have been made for quite so many dollars, but it was a very good movie nonetheless, landing it at number 3 on this list.