Directed By: Andy and Larry Wachowski (Larry is now Lana)
Written By: Andy and Larry Wachowski
It’s such an interesting experience to watch this movie now. I remember so clearly how it felt when I was 15 and watched it four times in the movie theater. I remember clearly how it felt when I watched it over and over again with my brother when it came to video and I was 16. Watching it now is so different though. The world has changed so dramatically in the last fifteen years. Looking back now at what was cutting edge technology in 1999 is an unusual feeling. This franchise may have fallen apart when it came to sequels but this movie was so important to my generation. This was our Star Wars when it first came out. It was a film that changed the way movies were made. The slow motion effect during action sequences was a big deal that was copied by everyone at the time. This movie added a new special effect to the table that was utilized and mimicked on a regular basis. The story left the door open for so many possibilities and for a few years our imaginations ran wild. We didn’t know that they would totally destroy this franchise when they continued it, but what we had seen already had blown our minds and we couldn’t hope but to expect the greatest thing ever made. Oh how we were disappointed, we will get to the sequels in time, but for now the focus is on this film. This film was incredible, and while there is plenty to pick apart today it was like nothing else we had ever seen in the late 90s. It was a film that combined action, style, and philosophy. It blew our minds and gave us something to think about after seeing it. It also sported some of the best fight scenes, action sequences, and monologues of all time.
This movie did blow minds in when it came out in 1999. I can LITERALLY attest to that. As I said I saw the movie four times in the theater and it was the fourth time I saw it that something happened. I remember it being during the scene in which Neo first dodges bullets. On screen Neo was leaning back in an unnatural stance while bullets passed over him in slow motion. A man sitting in the row directly in front of me and only one seat to the left suddenly stamped his foot three times and laid his head on the shoulder of the girl next to him. He made a moaning sound and the girl looked over and started screaming. This started a commotion that at age 15 I could do nothing more than sit there and marvel at. I had never seen such a thing happen before, the man had gone into a seizure. Eventually paramedics came and the girlfriend had to admit to them that the two of them had dropped acid before coming in to see the film. He was eventually wheeled out on a stretcher and I have no idea what happened after that but I will never forget it. I have been telling the story for years and about how the special effects in this movie put that man into a seizure. The drugs obviously played a part too but I have always thought the effects were messing with his head a bit. Of course that’s based on the observation of a 15 year old who had never seen anything like that happen and had no scientific knowledge for the theory, but it made the movie sound better that way. “This movie is so awesome it put that guy into a seizure!” I used to tell people in my youthful ignorance.
This wasn’t the first film made by the Wachowski brothers but it was the film that made them a household name. In truth, my knowledge of the Wachowskis is limited beyond the movies I have seen from them. I know that one of the brothers is now a sister as Larry has become Lana. From what I know that decision on Larry’s part was supported by her brother Andy and that’s cool. They are still working together but are no longer listed as the Wachowski Brothers, as they were when this film was released. Some people may take issue with the transgender change from Lana but I think any hater out there should take the time to appreciate their work despite any preconceived opinions. I will be the first one to say they made horrible mistakes when it came to continuing this franchise but I still admire them as filmmakers. On my to-do list is eventually reviewing one of their most recent films, Cloud Atlas. I thought that film was nothing short of amazing and should eventually change the way movies are made. Unfortunately when it comes to that film I think it went way over the heads of too many people. That was a problem with The Matrix as well. It was a film that went way over the heads of plenty of people but when it comes to this film people accepted that anyway because the outstanding action dazzled their eyes enough for them to not care. I was really disappointed with the Wachowskis with their sequels to this film but Cloud Atlas restored my faith in them and I look forward to anything else they might do in the future.
I say that this movie confused people because I feel like I was explaining it to people for years. Some people just could not grasp this concept of The Matrix. It was a deep film and I remember hearing that there were actually college classes that focused specifically on the movie. It combined elements of theology and philosophy and either one of those two things can sometimes be enough to confuse a casual film viewer. I hate philosophy because I think it more or less amounts to thinking things that don’t make a damn bit of difference one way or another. It will certainly give you plenty to think about and the term philosopher sounds really intelligent but beyond that I have never thought there was much to take from it. Philosophers have in the past spent a great deal of time trying to determine what is and isn’t real. We see that in this movie as Morpheus asks Neo “what is real?” What I ask you is, “what the hell does it matter?” In fact I don’t even get why there is a human resistance in this movie. Why go to the real world when the real world sucks? What good is fighting a resistance when your resistance fighters want to go back into The Matrix? Everyone besides Cypher seems gung-ho in what they are doing but Cypher’s feelings would not be exclusive to him. I imagine in this scenario it would be a common problem. What’s so bad about The Matrix anyway? You don’t know you are there and you get to live a better life than what you would have outside of it.
I mentioned it so I’m going to go through some of the theological references in this movie, and please keep in mind I’m going to write this from memory so if I make a mistake feel free to correct me. The name Neo is simply an anagram for One, as Neo is Jesus. This is obvious with his virgin birth, resurrection from death, and his being the savior for human kind. There are other times throughout this trilogy when this correlation is clearly seen by Neo being laid down in the “Jesus pose.” The ship that Morpheus and crew travel on is called The Nebuchadnezzar, a name that is in the Bible. Cypher’s name was created by simply taking the L U off of Lucifer and for the cleaver viewer this was foreshadowing that he would be the traitor to the cause. I don’t remember specifically reading this but I have to think the name of Trinity is a reference to the Holy Trinity. Beyond that there are no doubt several I have forgotten and managed to overlook while watching the film again. This film is deep on a level that I don’t care to put the thought into. If you are interested in the influences behind this film and what it all means I suggest you research the matter yourself.
I thought it was a peculiar choice to cast Keanu Reeves in the lead role of this film. Despite Speed I had never really seen him as an action star doing the kind of fights scenes this role called for. After all, these are some of the greatest fight scenes ever filmed, incorporating a variety of different fighting styles and techniques. Reeves did much better than I would have thought, and I liked his performance in the part. He was not the first choice for the film because somewhere along the line I remember someone criticizing Will Smith for passing on the role. It was before the sequels came out and in anticipation for the next two installments there was no shortage of hype.
The weakest link in this movie, in my opinion, was Carrie-Anne Moss as both an actress and a character. Moss was never able to turn the success of this film into more opportunities for her career and I think that is because she just wasn’t that good in it. I don’t know if it was her acting or if it was simply that her character is only there to complete the “trinity” and be a love interest for Neo. The love between the two seems so forced. She had no chemistry with Reeves and her character is only in love with him because the Oracle told her she was supposed to be. I had never given it any thought when I was younger but while watching the movie for this review I can’t find one reason why these two would be in love. Trinity wasn’t so bad in this one, but I think she simply started a downward spiral here. The character is so much worse in the sequels, specifically in the third film.
The exact opposite can be said for Laurence Fishburne. This was the greatest role he ever had and he was absolutely awesome in it. He has a great voice that literally makes everything he says sound so wise. The Morpheus character in itself was just really cool. So cool in fact that after ten years he was brought back for one of the big time Super Bowl ads this year. Morpheus also had a seat at the high council table in South Park’s Imaginationland episode trilogy, because he is awesome. Joe Pantoliano may have looked silly with his bald head and facial hair in this but it takes nothing away from him as an actor. He is great as a bad guy and I liked him as Cypher, despite his regular complaining. Even though Cypher is a bad guy in this movie I still like him because he is the only one that seems to have any sense when it comes to fighting this war. As he said, “ignorance is bliss” because the truth behind it all is that your alternative is living in a cave and eating slimy proteins three times a day. Who really wants that anyway?
Now, to the greatest role in this movie…Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith. Weaving had been acting for 18 years before this movie came out with little success but that all changed once people saw this. Weaving has since graced the film industry as many different great characters but I will always think of this as his greatest role. Agent Smith is interesting because he is simply a computer program but as we hear in his monologue to Morpheus late in the movie he has plenty of human qualities. It’s interesting and ironic that he wants to complete his task simply because he doesn’t want to be in this world created for the humans anymore. His classification of humans as viruses was such a compelling argument that I think it got all of our attention. The scene in which he says these things while interrogating Morpheus is one of the best parts of the movie short of all the outstanding fight scenes we see.
This is the most significant film of this franchise and the best of the three films. The sequels had some flashes of excitement here and there but this is the only complete film in the trilogy. It came out right before the world changed so dramatically with the technology utilized in the film. Both cell phones and the internet exploded after this movie came out with technological advancements and mainstream usage. It makes looking back at the film interesting because when the film came out everything they used was top of the line. For younger people this can be a glowing example of how quickly the world changed and where we were right before the turn of the century.
I have read recently that the Wachowskis have discussed the possibility of a new Matrix trilogy. I can’t stress how bad of an idea I think that would be for a number of reasons. Number one being that this movie is still great and I don’t think anything great should ever be messed with. I also think that the bad taste the franchise left with viewers as a whole will transition into bad impressions for a new trilogy. I think the time has passed for this franchise and I can’t stand the trend in Hollywood where instead of doing something new they simply reboot or remake. Having said all that, I still have plenty of faith in The Wachowskis and would keep my mind open whether I think it was a good idea or not. In closing I will just say that this movie is easily worth your time. It will both give you something to think about and something to enjoy while you are watching it.
The first time I watched this movie I had two words. Mind. Blown. I thought: “what an interesting way to look at everyday life.” It was such a different twist on an apocalyptic story. On top of that, to make Keanu a good actor, he needs as little lines and acting period. I think he did really well in his action scenes and fighting scenes, but when he talks I just want him to shut up. The writing for the dialogue in this movie is super simplistic, and sometimes it feels dumbed down. Overall, I really like this movie, it is fun and brings back a lot of memories.
I actually really like this poster for The Matrix. It shows more than one character, but in a good way. They all are representations portryed from themselves, so of course they are all wearing sunglasses, even thouh it is probably night time. I like that the binary code is making up the walls in the background and that the title has become very recognizable as the Matric font. This poster is really blue and purple, which is a strk difference from the green color that takes over the movie, especially the second one. Overall I think it does a good job of alluding to the movie and getting you interested, so not bad.
NEXT MOVIE: The Matrix Reloaded (2003)