So here’s an unpopular opinion to start out with: I don’t like The Matrix. I never saw it when it came out and only got caught up in the endless parodies until years later. Sure it revolutionized action films, but as story and characters go it’s extremely pretentious, saturated with endless exposition and anchored with some of the most boring acting in a long time. And it got worse with every sequel even when the stunts and computer graphics improved. Compared the entire trilogy, I prefer the less than perfect film adaptation of Speed Racer for its great casting, family clashes and taking the races in the cartoon to a whole new level. But let’s talk about Sense 8. A show that was recently cut short by it’s cancellation much to the dismay of its now visible fan base. But unlike Firefly or The Spectacular Spider-Man the outcry has given the creators a chance to wrap up everything rather than leave it on the cliffhanger of shame. However, this show is so big that reviewing the finale alone won’t do it justice. So I’m gonna talk about the entire series.
Out of the billions of people in the world, a handful of them are known as sensates: Humans who are able to see each other miles away from home. They’re also able to walk in their shoes to share their own talents in any situation. And this group couldn’t be more apples to oranges to each other if they lived on Mars. They consist of stalwart matatu driver, Capheus “Van Damme” Onyango (Aml Ameen/Toby Onwumere), gifted kick-boxer, Sun Bak (Doona Bae), strong willed hacktivist, Nomi Marks (Jamie Clayton), college driven pharmacist, Kala Dandekar (Tina Desai), popular Icelandic DJ, Riley Blue (Tuppence Middleton), infamous safe-cracker, Wolfgang Bogdanow (Max Riermelt), energetic closeted actor Lito Rodriguez (Miguel Angel Silvestre) and conflicted police officer, Will Gorski (Brian J. Smith). But one mysterious sensate, Milton “The Cannibal” Bailey (Terrence Mann) has an organization at his fingertips to kill off his own kind out of self-loathing shame. With their chosen families at their side, the 8 sensates set out to protect themselves and others from total annihilation.
It’s great seeing a big budgeted series from Lilly and Lana Wachowski that doesn’t rely on digital worlds, but rather vacation spots that feels a few steps away. This is said to be one of the most expensive Netflix series and the scenic shots really show. There’s so much that’s been missing in their other attempts at epics in the past few years. From the green landscapes to the calm streets to the fireworks at the end, nothing is sacred around the world.
But that wouldn’t matter if the characters were empty, emotionless shells akin to Neo and Trinity. Thank goodness they’re the exact opposite. All of them are very like-able with their own unique personality. And when their lives combine, you don’t get Captain Planet, but some of the best chemistry of an ensemble since (insert your favorite show here). And it really drives the notion of trying new things in life even if it’s not from your hometown. Almost like finding that family you never knew you had while subtly encompassing diversity. Something that’s never acknowledged when trying to combat white-washing in media. As opposed to Jupiter Ascending whose characters, compacted origin story and monotone real estate were restrained to a movie structure, the television format allows more time to get to know everyone. Thanks to their colorful emotions and skills, the action finally heightens the stakes when gunfire breaks the peaceful atmosphere and tender moments. If this wasn’t an original product, it would probably be another reboot of the X-Men given the uncanny similarities.
There are a few downsides to it though. It can be really hard to follow everything in the beginning, but give it time and it will click together. If you’ve seen any of their works the Wachowskis have a staple of philosophical speeches that could put Christopher Nolan to sleep and the finale does fall prey to that. With an entire season condensed to a near three hour send-off, a lot of new information is spoon-fed which would be nice if there was a third season on the horizon. But instead of focusing on building up the final showdown between The Cannibal and the sensates, it feels obligated to spew needless exposition. However given the circumstances of the production, it’s amazing that the finale ended up leaving you drowning in tears of joy.
The ending might be rocky, but Sense 8 is what The Matrix and its sequels should’ve been. When you take out the technology, you’re left with a gripping story, tense action and best of all global colorful characters that you don’t want to say goodbye to. This sibling duo has come a long way since their big blockbuster days. And this is their most recent magnum opus since their premiere film starring Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon. If you haven’t already check it out if you’re subscribed to Netflix as it would ensure a tiny hope that there will be more adventures with this group later on in life. If the show doesn’t continue then the fandom can at least connect with each other in the coming years.