The Matrix, the 2nd film from the ever ambitious and creative Wachowskis’ and is a modern film classic with some of the most iconic scenes, action or otherwise and dialogue in film history, a film hugely influential to modern action, highlighted by the film having been parodied and referenced tonnes of times in the media over the years. It’s spawned dozens (probably more) of clones and I think, directly influenced the style and tone of modern action films since its’ release.
The Matrix poses a deep philosophical question but poses that question in a very entertaining and thrilling way, telling the story of a hacker Thomas Anderson with the alias Neo, he works a menial office desk job but has always felt there was something wrong with the world, something he couldn’t quite place his finger on. And he, along with the audience is exposed to the truth about the false world that he lived in, a computer program called The Matrix, made by sentient machines (originally made by humans) to keep humanity subjugated, using them purely as a source of energy. The truth is of course terrifying and hard to believe but Neo faces it nonetheless, with not so subtle undertones here and an obvious message about modern society that still feels as relevant in 1999 as it does now.
The Matrix is an excellent film in several aspects, in the way its’ shot, the film was driven and marked a lot in relation to its’ visual spectacle and things like bullet time, an iconic film effect that stunned audiences at the time added to the unique feeling of the film and it added vastly to the tension and spectacle in a lot of the films’ scenes. Neos’ first time dodging bullets, Trinity swinging away from the helicopter and it slamming into the skyscraper, Neo and Trinitys’ lobby shootout are all fantastic scenes and showcase the Wachowskis creative ambition when it comes to how to shoot action scenes and do something different.
The action in The Matrix is fantastic because it’s great to watch but also because it serves a purpose, to move the plot forward and to highlight character progression e.g. at the end, showing Neo growing on his courage and choosing to fight, rather than in Reloaded and Revolutions where some fights may seem like fights for the sake of having fights. The film also has a great, set of characters from Trinity, Morpheus, Tank and the iconic Neo himself, all brought to life by excellent performances, from Lawrence Fishburne as Morpheus and Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith, one of the best movie antagonists of all time in my opinion. And while Keeanu Reeves may not be the most expressive or emotive of actors in the film, he fits the role of an initially doubtful but open minded Neo really well and is fantastic in his fight scenes and importantly he changes, develops and goes on his own personal journey through the course of the film, for example the Neo hiding from agents at his work place and the Neo fighting Agent Smith at the end of the film couldn’t look any more different.
The writing in the film is brilliant and features some of the most quotable lines in a modern action film, a testament to the film being so well made with a lot of thought going into the dialogue, characters speak their lines almost theatrically – Morpheus especially and it really adds a great dramatic feeling to scenes. And the plot is expertly put together and so well paced that the film at 136 minutes, flies by with no wasted or loose plot points, each scene is important and relevant to the overall narrative and the easter eggs, while a bit on the nose, again all contribute to or reference the narrative. An iconic, pace setting action film and one of the best in sci-fi, The Matrix is also endlessly re-watchable for me and fantastically well made.
. One of the best premises and well executed plots in modern film
. Excellent action scenes, creatively shot
. Excellent writing, great dialogue