2. Cloud Atlas (2012)
The Wachowskis can’t take all the credit for the release of Cloud Atlas as the film was actually directed in conjunction with Lola Rennt aka Run Lola Run (1998) director Tom Tykwer. They can, however, be given the credit they deserve for being involved at all in a film so remarkable as is this one.
Featuring a cast for the ages including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and Susan Sarandon, as well as less famous character actors like Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Ben Whishaw and Jim Sturgess, Cloud Atlas used the familiarity of their cast as a tool through which to tell a story that spanned centuries and ultimately looked to explore the very reason for our existence.
The novel “Cloud Atlas”, was initially deemed “unfilmable”, but it was pulled off so effectively by the Wachowskis and Tykwer that the film managed to produce a similarly as profound feeling as the novel did; it was a true tour-de-force of emotion. The movie, like the novel, was an existential piece on the nature of love and was altogether encouraging of inclusion and tolerance, juxtaposing tough and difficult humanity with love and acceptance through centuries of stories all delicately intertwined. The movie is not beyond criticism of course, but the effectiveness of the storytelling and the values it portrays are huge positives for the film and the careers of the Wachowskis as a whole, sitting way ahead of the rest of the pack in terms of overall quality, yet being beaten to the top of the pile by the gem in the Wachowski oeuvre, The Matrix…
1. The Matrix (1999)
The Matrix is the quintessential Wachowski sibling film. It’s technologically advanced for its time, it questions the very existence of ourselves and our collective humanity, and it’s a brand new universe for us to explore (and buy into). The movie itself is an oft-forgotten classic of 90s cinema, mostly because of how closely tied to the culture of the time the movie seems to be. Focusing on a rebel group of humans fighting against a technological matrix put together by a race of machines looking to harvest humans as crops, Neo discovers he’s the chosen one to bring an end to the whole thing and thus shoots, kicks and bullet-dodges his way through the Matrix in an attempt to undermine and ultimately overcome its creators.
This film was a cyberpunk’s wet-dream back in 1999. The internet was taking off, anti-establishment was all the rage in music and culture as a whole, and the slicked back hair and long leather coat look was actually pretty cool. The story of one man (in conjunction with a group of technological wizards) overcoming the system by tapping into said system and destroying it from the inside was the most cyberpunk ideal of them all, and perhaps still is. The Matrix was more than just a counter culture tool however, it was also outstanding in terms of its CG effects and stunt work. The effect “bullet time” was named after the most iconic Matrix moment where Neo first dodges the bullets of the agents attempting to kill him, solidifying the sequence as an all-timer in terms of how memorable it was. Imagine being present in a cinema/theatre at the time and witnessing that as it happens, free of all of the references that have been made to it across culture since and have thus watered down. It would have been awe inspiring.
Sure, with retrospect, The Matrix isn’t a perfect movie, not least because of how much the sequels botched their role in the whole process, but to deny it as anything other than a noteworthy 90s film and a classic of the genre would be doing the film a disservice. Not only this, but the film is also the most Wachowski of them all. When you think of the siblings, it’s hard to associate them with anything else, even so long after its release. Number 1… The Matrix.
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