Everything Everywhere All At Once Is The Best Movie Of 2022
In the late 1990s things in the world felt optimistic in a fundamental way, thus our art reflected the sense of malaise and hopelessness in our world. No film captured that attitude better than The Matrix, which works on multiple allegorical levels for how one can feel trapped in a “good life.” Today, things feel, well, worse. So, it’s no wonder that our art is starting to reflect a sense of hopeful optimism, and Everything Everywhere All At Once is The Matrix of our time. Michelle Yeoh leads a cast that delivers incredible performances as multiple characters in some truly absurd situations. Still, the title is Everything Everywhere All At Once and the journey of the film is to find something that matters, anything really.
This will be a relatively spoiler-free review, at least where the plot is concerned. However, it is impossible to talk about this film, and how truly amazing it is, without giving away some thematic spoilers. So, if you want to go into this film knowing nothing beyond the first trailer for Everything Everywhere All At Once, just know that this is the best movie of 2022, in my opinion. All due respect to The Matrix: Resurrections, but this is the sequel to that first film that I always wanted and never got.
Like the title suggests, this movie defies genre. It’s an indie movie about a family who feels trapped in their life. It’s also a mind-bending surrealist visual and metaphysical film of a type that would make David Lynch weep. The movie is not afraid to be funny or heartbreaking. In some instances in the last act, it’s all of those things at once.
Everything Everywhere All At Once Is (At Least) Three Great Movies In One
Image via A24
What a couple of years Michelle Yeoh is having. From Star Trek: Discovery (and spinoffs) to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star is, well, everywhere. In this movie, she plays Evelyn Quan a woman struggling in a life that she didn’t actually want. Yet, because this film goes into the multiverse, she also plays a movie star, a sign spinner, and a host of other versions of herself. Insofar as there are “heroes” and “villains” in the story, they share more DNA with Rick and Morty than anything else. The futility of doing anything in an infinite multiverse weighs heavy on the characters. They, like those of us not seeing through the veil of dimensions, struggle to figure out why what they do matters at all.
The philosophy of The Matrix was very much about the way the external world forces things upon us. What makes Everything, Everywhere All At Once a kind of spiritual sequel to it is that it seeks to answer why what we do matters, whether we’re in a simulation or not. This conflict is fought through dialogue and character interaction. Yet, it’s also fought with kung-fu, sex toys, and lethal dancing. For a small indie film about people in a family trying to find their purpose, there is a lot of amazing action. Yeoh (and the stunt team) do an incredible job with stylized fighting, grounding it in a concept that is both imaginative and ridiculous. The fight sequences are impeccably choreographed. They get away with an overuse of slow-motion because so much happens in those precious seconds they’re extending.
Michelle Yeoh Delivers an Oscar-Worthy Performance
Image via A24
Any action movie, of course, suffers from the final fight problem. The stakes have to be big, so that usually means massive destruction, high body counts, and lots of CGI. Yet, in this film, by the time the final fight happens, what is possible is such an open book that it is unlike any final conflict in any film. Like in the climax of Return of the Jedi, it is the rejection of violence that truly makes our chosen one the chosen one. This is all possible because of Evelyn’s journey in the film and the deeply nuanced performance of Michelle Yeoh. She slips into and out of accents, different characters, and settings sometimes in the span of a line of dialogue. While a slightly challenging film to follow plotwise, the emotional arc of the character is clear.
Yes, Yeoh is the hero that this film’s multiversal conflict focuses on. Yet, this entire story feels like a huge metaphor for family struggles. A child collapsing under the weight of pressure a parent puts on them. That pressure pushing down on their child, making the same mistakes over again. The different ways we parents can let go of our kids, and when it’s more important than ever to hold on tightly. Every family is its own multiverse, and Everything Everywhere All At Once examines why that means it all matters and it’s never too late.
This movie is a load of fun. There are just as many moments that get big laughs as there are that tug at the heart. Even when the premise is ridiculous and surreal, the movie makes them all emotional beats in the end. Writers and directors Daniels – the team name of Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert – pay off every gag and earn every moment. I don’t put much stake in the Oscars. If Daniels and Michelle Yeoh don’t win one next year, I’ll know I’m right not to. Everything Everywhere All At Once is one of the best movies of the year.
Everything Everywhere All At Once debuts in theaters, April 8, 2022.
What do you think? Did you enjoy Everything Everywhere All At Once? Did it give you The Matrix vibes? Share your thoughts, reactions, and own interpretations of the film in the comments below.
Featured image via A24.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book of superhero short stories, Tales of Adventure & Fantasy: Book One is available as an ebook or paperback from Amazon.