Every once in a while, a movie comes along that changes everything. There is a distinct shift in Hollywood and culture from the time The Matrix was released and its impact can still be felt on movies today. This is because The Matrix was like nothing cinema had seen before. It is cool, full of action and iconic set-pieces but at the same time has a plot which feels deep, complex and alienating.
The opening of The Matrix grabs you, delivering just enough action coupled with half-understood conversations and character decisions that you are engrossed from the beginning. This only continues as we follow Keanu Reeves’ Mr Anderson through “the rabbit hole” and into the “real world” unplugged from The Matrix. This is a movie which delivers a plot about existence, the dangers of technology, identity and belief, all while delivering some of the most impressive action seen on-screen up to that point.
If you can’t follow what felt like a complex and barely explained plot, you were still thoroughly entertained by the action. The Kung-Fu sequences are hard-hitting, blisteringly fast and so fun to watch. The finale delivers a shoot-out like no other, a helicopter rescue with innovative CGI and of course, the now famous and much copied “bullet-time.” That moment alone is enough to make The Matrix memorable and although common place in so many movies today, it still looks impressive when you re-watch the original.
Its not just the hard-hitting action and blockbuster style spectacle though. The Matrix works because it is filled with characters we care about. Reeves gives the best performance of his career but is completely over-shadowed by Carrie-Ann Moss’ Trinity or Joe Pantoliano’s Cypher. Laurence Fishburne steals the whole movie as the coolest character though. Morpheus is all at once mysterious, capable, reassuring and infuriatingly cryptic. It is one of cinema’s best creations.
Almost stealing the crown is Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith. Its refreshing that alongside the philosophical and sci-fi heavy plot, there is still a villain who you can just enjoy hating. Agent Smith is the perfect foil for Reeves’ hero and watching the finale as the face-off makes for the perfect climax to the movie.
Overall, The Matrix is still the iconic, innovative and blockbuster spectacle it was back in 1999. It has a complex and intelligent plot, fantastic characters and best of all, very cool action. The set-pieces were much imitated but rarely bettered and from this movie came some of the greatest moments in cinema.
Rating – 5!
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)
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