Computer hacker Thomas Anderson has lived a relatively ordinary life, in what he thinks is the year 1999, until he is contacted by the enigmatic Morpheus who leads him into the real world. In reality, it is 200 years later, and the world has been laid waste and taken over by advanced artificial intelligence machines. The computers have created a false version of the 20th-century, the "Matrix", to keep the human slaves satisfied, while they draw energy from them. Anderson, pursued constantly by "Agents" (computers who take on human form and infiltrate the Matrix), is hailed as "The One" who will lead the humans to overthrow the machines and reclaim the Earth.
Directed by: Lana Wachowski
, Lilly Wachowski
. Starring: Keanu Reeves
, Laurence Fishburne
, Carrie-Anne Moss
, Hugo Weaving
, Gloria Foster
, Joe Pantoliano
, Marcus Chong
, Julian Arahanga
, Matt Doran
, Belinda McClory
, Anthony Ray Parker
, Paul Goddard
, Robert Taylor
. Music by: Don Davis
Looking back at the cyberpunk blockbuster, The Matrix is like a time capsule and culmination of the science fiction movies of the 90's. It's scenes and ideas have become iconic, and that makes it a classic, although more because of its importance rather than it being a great film in and of itself.
The Matrix certainly has a technical brilliance that had a huge effect on the way action movies were filmed. And unlike the deplorable shaky cam aspects of the Bourne movies, the style of The Matrix at least made the action movies that stole from it a little more visually pleasing. The Wachowski brothers certainly created a world that was fascinating to think about and entertaining to watch. While their movie ends up not going quite as far as it could and should have, they made a visually groundbreaking movie that incorporates a lot of interesting and complex philosophical ideas, although the movie doesn't quite live up to the ambitions it sets up for itself.
Other movies from the 90's had similar plots to this one, most notably Dark City, The Truman Show and Strange Days in the fact that the world that we live in is far different that what it seems. The Matrix is, of course, a computer generated world simulating the world as it was in 1999, when in reality the year is closer to 2199, with all humans plugged into the Matrix, and used as batteries for sentient robots that have taken over the world. That premise alone is enough to create a good and interesting movie. The main character Neo, however, also happens to be the Chosen one; the human that will end the war between those humans that have woken up from the Matrix and the machines that want them dead. The interesting thing about the characters that have woken up, is that they can plug back into the Matrix when they need to. And since they know they are in a virtual reality, they can manipulate it to be great fighters and defy gravity and all that good stuff. Neo, being the chosen one, is thought to be able to manipulate the Matrix even more than the other enlightened ones.
Keaunu Reeves plays Neo, in the same vein as Harrison Ford or Bruce Willis, in that his acting is going out of his way to do not much at all. This is fine enough, but since Reeves lacks the charisma that Ford and Willis posses, it makes it hard to really care about him as a character. However, Lawrence Fishborne as Morpheus, the wise and powerful guru figure, is an excellent and enjoyable character. He gives off the air of calmness and ease in a world that is controlled by fear and chaos. Carrie-Anne Moss is also excellent as Trinity, the kick ass chick that Neo inevitably falls in love with. And there is also Hugo Weaving, who plays Agent Smith, a program designed to look like a human inside the Matrix that is sent to kill all those humans that keep trying to wake people up. He and the other agents have significant abilities when it comes to altering the Matrix. They can dodge bullets with ease, and can easily fight any human. Weaving is a highlight of the movie, giving a memorable and vicious performance.
One of the most interesting aspects of this movie is the idea of making a choice. This is most notably shown in the scene where Neo has the choice to take the blue pill, which will send him back to his bed and he will never have to worry about what the Matrix is, or the red pill, which is akin to some form of psychedelic. Neo takes the latter, and becomes enlightened, waking up in a tub surrounded by other humans plugged into the Matrix. The direct effect of taking the red pill is ambiguous, and creates a layer to the movie that makes it both more interesting and more fun. Choice shows up throughout the course of the movie, especially with the Oracle, a wise old lady who lives in the Matrix and predicted the coming of the Chosen one to end the war between man and machine.
Neo then meets the characters on the flying ship the Nebuchadnezzar, including Morpheus and Trinity, as well as other characters that end up being completely inconsequential considering they all die. The character Cypher, played by Joe Pantoliano is probably the worst of these characters. He ultimately betrays the crew of the ship to Agent Smith because he wants to be plugged back into the Matrix. Pantoliano plays the character as a total scumbag that is considerably unlikable. This may be what the Wachowski brothers intended, but it doesn't make for an interesting character. There is simply nothing to like about the man; he is like a neighbor you avoid because he does too much cocaine.
The Matrix has its faults, but it is an entertaining and important movie. The fight scenes are a huge part of the experience, based on those old school, gravity defying Kung Fu movies. The choreography of the fights is exquisitely done by Yuen Woo-ping, who would later go on to choreograph the fights in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill. The use of slow motion and it's "bullet time" effect, which allowed the characters to freeze mid air and look exceedingly bad ass is another very cool trademark of the movie.
This science fiction movie created an intriguing world and an exciting story. Visually stunning and action packed, The Matrix is a fun movie to watch, even though it doesn't live up to its own ambitions, and the end becomes tangled in a web of convoluted silliness. It is none the less an important and entertaining achievement.
Review by patrickwigington from the Internet Movie Database.