Why The Matrix Sequels Were Bad, According To Their Cinematographer

Bill Pope recounts the "mind numbing" and "soul numbing" experience of the later Matrix films.


Filming on Lana Wachowski's fourth Matrix film--her first without her sibling and longtime collaborator Lilly Wachowski--has resumed in Berlin. But the film's release date was needfully pushed pack to April 1, 2022, effectively ruining the long prophesied Keanu Reeves double feature with John Wick 4, still scheduled for May 21, 2021. While we wait, however, there's plenty of Matrix gossip to tide us over. For instance, on a recent episode of Roger Deakins' filmmaking podcast, Team Deakins, the cinematographer for the first three Matrix films, Bill Pope, discussed the stark differences between shooting the first Matrix film and the subsequent two, Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions.

"Everything that was good about the first experience was not good about the last two," Pope said. "You weren't free anymore. People were looking at you. There was a lot of pressure. In my heart, I just didn't like them. I felt we should be going in another direction. There was a lot of friction and a lot of personal problems, which showed up on screen, to be honest with you. It was not my most elevated moment, nor was it anyone else's. The Wachowskis had read this damn book by Stanley Kubrick that said, 'Actors don't do natural performances until you wear them out.' So let's go to take 90! I want to dig Stanley Kubrick up and kill him."

"There is something about making a shoot that long, 276 shoot days, that is mind numbing and soul numbing and it numbs the movie," Pope said of shooting the second and third Matrix films, which were filmed concurrently.

Pope had far more than just criticisms to air. Deakins' relatively new podcast is an exciting discovery because it gets into nitty gritty cinema details that many fans crave. Pope speaks casually of the long process the Wachowskis went through to make the first Matrix film, why he thinks it made that film better, the Wachowskis' indomitable bargaining partnership, and how the birth of the bullet time visual effect led the team to hire John Gaeta, who Pope describes as "a visual effect supervisor who'd never made a movie before." The whole episode is a fascinating listen. Pope will not return for the upcoming Matrix sequel, with Sense8 and Cloud Atlas cinematographer John Toll attached.

While you wait for 2022 and The Matrix 4, here are the 34 dumbest moments from the Matrix sequels.

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