Sound and fury, signifying nothing.
3) Neo vs Seraph
- Neo, the prophesied savior and so forth. Played by Keanu Reeves.
- Seraph, another sentient program within the Matrix. His responsibility is to protect the Oracle, though it’s hinted at that that’s not what he was originally designed for or what he’s always done. One of the few named, non-Agent character who’s not dressed like a goth teenager’s wet dream. Played by Collin Chou, though originally the role was intended for Michelle Yeoh, and later Jet Li.
Nobody’s armed with anything here, it’s all hand-to-hand.
The Setup: Neo’s been looking for the Oracle, who he hasn’t seen since before his embracing his One-ness. Receiving a summons from her, he arrives alone at this small tea shop, finding only Seraph (a class of angel mentioned in the Bible), who appears in his “Matrix vision” as a lot of shining white code. After brief introductions, Seraph offers up a pre-emptive apology for the “fight” (read: brief inconvenience) he’s about to cause.
The Fight: The previous fight was relatively toothless, but that one at least had people getting hit. This one doesn’t even have that much.
Oh, it’s all very well-choreographed. There is all manner of fancy swinging, dodging, countering and elaborate footwork. Early on, Seraph does a neat trick where he gradually circles around Neo as they clash, which eventually forces them to both take the fight upward to the small tables in the room, where it stays for the duration. Unnecessary, but kind of neat how they maintain their balance.
And whatever else, the Wachowski still knew how to film a fight scene at this point. They know when to make their shots close-ups, long, medium, overhead, profile, static, moving, etc., and always with the well-applied spice of slow-motion. Don Davis’ fast-paced Asian drums are fun, a sort of a callback to the cheesy riffs that opened up the first movie’s dojo scene. There’s definite skill on display both with the combatants and the filmmaking.
However, it’s still a big nothing. As complex as it is, it’s over in less than a minute, and the closest thing to a genuine connecting blow is Neo palming Seraph on a chest, and Seraph only uses the momentum to launch himself into a backflip anyway. The skill level of Neo’s angelic opponent is unclear, because even though they fight to a virtual standstill it’s likely that Neo was holding back in order to not hurt someone he thinks is an ally… but then Seraph may have been holding back as well, because he was only fighting hard enough to test Neo.
Yes, “test.” When Seraph cuts the fight short, he explains that the tangle was necessary in order to verify Neo’s identity. When Neo snarks that Seraph could have just asked, he replies with deadpan sincerity “You cannot truly know someone, until you fight them.” Which, uh… lolwhut?
This fight’s existence makes no sense. The Oracle has this super kung fu guy as her 24-7 protection who insists upon engaging in sophisticated authentication procedures (to sniff out shape-shifters?), even though she can literally see the future? And where was this guy in the first movie? I distinctly remember that the Oracle used to have an apartment that pretty much anyone was able to walk in & out of. Did all those weird bald kids have to get their asses kicked by Seraph before they were allowed to come in and bend spoons in the living room? Maybe this is a new security procedure on account of Agent Smith’s recent antics, but his powers distinctly do not include impersonating other people, so….
Doesn’t make much point from a pacing standpoint, either. It has indeed been a long time since this movie flexed its action muscles, and audiences were itching for a fight after being forced to sit through an interminable scenes of a slow-motion cave rave, Keanu’s buttcrack, and meandering discussions with Anthony Zerbe about “choice.” But the audience is due for one doozy of a fight– arguably its centerpiece– less than ten minutes after this one ends, so….
I just don’t understand the Wachowskis. Does that mean I have to fight them?
Coming Attractions: Let’s get Burly.