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30 January 2008 @ 07:47 pm
Suggested titles also include: Bourne To Raise Hell, Bourne Under A Bad Sign, Bourne To Ride, and Jason Of A Gun.

Due to the trauma of high expectations compounded by minimal and irritating payoff, I've successfully blocked out the majority of what happened in the final two films of the Matrix series. Nevertheless, there are things one has difficulty forgetting completely. Like the laborious, over-the-top car chases, Neo confronting the creator of the matrix (The Man In White), and Neo ultimately dying Jesus-like for the sins and freedom of all mankind. And, of course, the fact that they were both at least 30 minutes too long.

The Bourne movies succeed in that they both clock in at around 100 minutes, Jason Bourne survives the 10-story fall into the East River, and his meeting with his own creator wasn't nearly as hackneyed and trite.

Of course, these movies are like comparing apples and roast beef; one is steeped in Sci-Fi and aspects of philosophy that try to sound deeper than they really are, while the other is strictly North American Action/Adventure set in various worldly locales and deals more with real-world morality of government, corruption, and unnecessary murder for covert gains. Both sets of films deal with identity - the paradox of being seemingly sentient while ultimately controlled by forces bigger than we could possibly understand - but they obviously go about this in different ways.

See, I was ultimately disappointed in The Matrix series more than the Bourne movies because the concept of The Matrix had so many more possibilities; this series really could've been more than the most technically and visually ambitious set of films in my lifetime. After the promise of the first, how could you not help but set up the next two as potentially being the greatest films of all time? But, that's the thing with hype buildup: you're ultimately bound to fail because you're dealing with limited power of imagination. And while the creators tried coming up with something we'd never seen before, in the end we had to admit that the idea itself wasn't nearly as good when abstract and unfinished concepts were made clear and resolved.

Conversely, there was never that buildup for the Bourne movies. Sure, the first one was good, but essentially it followed a formula we've seen too many times before. Anyone who's seen 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' with Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson for instance: Ms. Davis had amnesia, was a covert operative killing machine for the government being drawn back into service, and she had to fight unknown powers that be until ultimately she won her life and identity back. 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' managed to get this done inside 2 hours (as opposed to the 5-6 hours in the entire Bourne series) and with greater comedic effect with the likes of Samuel L. Obviously, there have been other films touching in on these themes; Bourne is just the most recent and one of the more technically sound examples. Near non-stop action from head to toe, palpable and abundant car chases and narrow escapes, and a likeable star atoning for previous misdeeds.

So, of course the Bourne movies succeeded while The Matrix series failed, but I'll argue harder for the latter in one respect: at least The Matrix tried to be bold and different. No one expected more than was necessary out of the Bourne movies because no one believed they were trying to change the face of cinema in the process. With The Matrix, they were more ambitious than able, but they took the shot. In the end, is it better to have higher expectations and fail or to have apt expectations and succeed?

The Matrix series shot for 100 and ended up with a 65, but the Bourne movies shot for an 85 and hit the mark. I respect The Matrix more, but in the end, I can't help but enjoy the Bournes.