The Matrix was written and directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowski and had a budget of $63 million, which is minimal compared to the $465.3 million it made at the box office. The film won four academy awards for Best Film Editing, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects and finally Best Visual Effects. The film stars Keanu Reeves as Neo, Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus and Carrie-Ann Moss as Trinity. But I’m guessing you know a lot of those facts already?
I find it hard to imagine that some people don’t know what The Matrix is? Thing is, there wasn’t a platform for me in 99 to go and discuss this film as I would now. I watched it, loved it, and went about my business as usual. Today, I can find out anything about the film in seconds and get into a conversation about it right away. So why would I want to write this? I just want to try and rediscover those feelings I had for the film in 1999 and get ready for The Matrix Resurrections in December. Like many other people, I’m quite excited about the new movie.
Only after a day or so I have already learnt about Jean Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation. Okay, maybe I could have learnt that in 99, but I just wasn’t that person back then. It is something I want to study in the future and has already made this project worthwhile. I will have to dig a bit deeper into the psychology and technical aspects of this trilogy in the later films but my first experience of this film was so insular. I want to try and remember my first reactions to the film because it felt so unique and enjoyable.
Your men are already dead.
The first act of this film started to feel like a horror movie to me. I vividly remember this film was not going in the direction I expected. It begins with Trinity surrounded by a police squad in an abandoned hotel late at night. Trinity attacks one of the officers with a flying kick, and suddenly time slows down around her. I think that is the moment when I knew this was going to be something special. The great thing about this film is that it doesn’t give you time to contemplate what’s going on?
The story is relentless in providing you with more information to digest. Trinity is soon leaping between buildings, with agents that seem to have the same superhuman abilities as her. Trinity finally reaches a phonebooth, and within seconds a truck driven by an agent smashes it to bits. A powerful opening to a film that stays with you forever and hooks you in right away. Because all you want to know is, what in the World is going on?
Wake up Neo.
Someone else who is trying to find out what’s going on is Mr Anderson, also known by his hacking name Neo. A computer programmer, who spends his evening searching the web trying to find out about something called the Matrix. Neo is woken up with a message on his computer, the Matrix is now looking for him, and then gives him instructions to follow the white rabbit. I mentioned earlier that The Matrix felt like a horror film because what happens to Neo after this message would be quite terrifying in real life.
Neo finds out the white rabbit is a tattoo, which leads him to Trinity, who then tells him Morpheus will give him the answer he is seeking. However, when Neo arrives late for work the next day, there is no going back. Neo receives a mobile phone, and when it rings, Neo is told that agents are already looking for him.
Can you imagine taking that call and being told you have to walk out on a ledge of a high-rise building? Knowing me, I would have bolted for the stairs, but I give Neo his due at least he tried. Neo is later arrested and interrogated by Agent Smith Hugo Weaving.
The agents need his help in locating the terrorist named Morpheus. Neo is facing some serious charges, and if he cooperates, those charges will simply go away. Neo gives Agent Smith the finger and asks for his phone call! How can he make a call if he cannot speak? Neo’s mouth is gone, and all that remains is skin. The agents hold him down and plant a robotic bug inside him.
Remember, all I’m offering is the truth – nothing more.
After reading over my first impressions of the film, I noticed that I am just walking through each scene. The editing by Zach Staenberg is super tight and so critical to the story that it’s hard to avoid. So, I’m going to try and take this in another direction. As you know, Neo has the bug removed from his stomach and finally meets Morpheus.
The next twenty minutes reminds me of the Dawn of Man from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The alien monolith represents the birth of A.I and the hominids reaction is the way mankind understands it. The bone throw is humanities last stand, and then we have Neo waking up to a very contrasting vision of the future.
I can’t go back, can I?
It turns out that Neo is nothing more than an AA battery, and now he is liberated from the fetus fields that help harvest his biometric power. Simple in theory, but shockingly beautiful to watch in a grotesque way.
I guess none of us can go back at this point in the film, but I enjoyed the mystery, and I was surprised they gave it up so early in the story. The Matrix is the computer program that keeps those AA batteries healthy, and Morpheus is ready to introduce Neo to 2199 and all the happiness that comes with it. You know that isn’t true though, Earth is a bit of a dump, and for some reason, humanity agreed that scorching the sky and losing the sun would be a good idea!
He is the One.
Morpheus believes in Neo. In fact, pulling him out of the Matrix at such a late age was pretty dangerous. If Neo is to save the World, I guess the risk was worth it. I think you would have to question a statement like that if you are Neo. However, in one of my favourite scenes from the film, Neo shows some ability inside a training program that no one has seen before. I know I cannot comment on every moment from this film. Instead, I want to concentrate on Neo’s relationship with Morpheus and how it sets up everything that will come after it.
I’m not the one, Trinity.
Morpheus believes in the prophecy, a prediction made by the Oracle Gloria Foster. The One will herald the destruction of the matrix, and the freedom of humanity from their oppression of the machines. Morpheus arranges for Neo to meet the Oracle inside the Matrix, who then tells him that he isn’t the one?
Plus, Neo will have to choose between his life or his leader because one of them will die. Cypher Joe Pantoliano , a member of the Nebuchadnezzar crew, makes a deal with Agent Smith to capture Morpheus. Neo realising the prophecy is wrong, finally understands Morpheus is far more valuable to the future of humanity than himself and prepares to sacrifice his own life to save his friend. Just like the Oracle predicted.
Guns, Lots of Guns.
Welcome to the final act, in all of its glorious splendour. I don’t feel like I have managed to convey just how much I love this film! It has everything, science-fiction, cyberpunk and an exceptional storyline. Kung Fu, bullet-time and the philosophy of life is not something I really expected, but just as massively enjoyable. At this point of the story, you understand the complexity of this new world and you don’t need spoon feeding any more information.
Neo doesn’t care about the prophecy at this point, he just wants to do the right thing for those around him. As soon as Neo and Trinity enter the building where agent Smith has Morpheus, all hell breaks loose, not just on the screen, but artistically as well. I have just recently watched the 4K version and that lobby scene is still pretty impressive, the total gun fire carnage and slow-motion shots certainly get your endorphins pumping.
Maybe some of the CGI is a little ropey, but it just adds to the charm for me. This is about a specific moment in time, just on the cusp of a digital revolution of our own. Yeah, it started earlier, but these devices would soon be making their way in to every home in the World.
In 1999, I was all about the bullet-time shot, however in 2021, Trinity shooting the agent in the side of the head is the winner for me. I guess you just cant beat a wonderful camera shot.
Neo and Trinity finally manage to get Morpheus away from agent Smith. That whole sequence with the sprinklers and gun shot is beautiful, as Morpheus takes another leap of faith with Neo. Surely Neo must be aware that he is gaining some serious abilities in the Matrix, but I still don’t think he believes that the is the one. I was going to save the philosophy for the next review, but maybe the fact that he isn’t driven by ego and is ready to do what’s right, regardless of his death, is what makes him the one. I know some people already know this but I’m sure there is more depth to this as well.
I suppose it all comes down to Neo’s fight with agent Smith! I’m not talking about the actual physical fight, we know that’s amazing, it’s all amazing. Hong Kong-based fight choreographer Yeun WO-ping really added another dimension to this story. Just like every other talented individual who worked on the Matrix, is completely integral to the success of this film. Agent Smith realises that Neo is heading to room 303, the same room Trinity used to check out Mr Anderson earlier in the film. As Neo opens the door, Smith shoots him in the chest multiple times, leaving him to fall on the ground and die.
In the meantime, Morpheus and Trinity are fighting their own battle onboard the Nebuchadnezzar. A group of Sentinels have found the ship and are now cutting their way through its hull. Neo’s pulse disappears from the screen inside the Nebuchadnezzar, and time is running out. If they cant activate the electromagnetic pulse, the sentinels will kill them all anyway. Trinity leans over Neo and tells him that she isn’t afraid anymore. The Oracle told her she would fall in love with the one, so he can’t be dead. She tells him she loves him, and after a sweet old kiss, his heartbeat comes back.
What comes next is probably one of my favourite moments in cinema history. Inside the Matrix, Neo stands up, and as Agent Smith and other agents try to fire at him, he stops their bullets in mid-flight. He picks out one of the bullets and realises he can see the Matrix for what it is now and how he can manipulate it. Neo runs and jumps inside of Agent Smith and destroys him from the inside out, finally flexing the whole Matrix, as you do! Neo leaves the Matrix; the Nebuchadnezzar activates the electromagnet pulse, and our heroes live to fight another day.
I remember rolling my eyes when Neo flew off at the end but thinking about it, that is probably my lack of imagination. After watching the documentary, The Matrix Revisited, I realised it was supposed to be a comic book film. As you well know, things get a little crazy in the follow-up movies, but now, I have accepted that. It reminds me of A New Hope in some ways. I’m not saying the budget was terrible for The Matrix, but I reckon some moments had to be simplified due to money constraints. A New Hope suffered a lot of constraints, but the film was a huge success. I’m pretty sure if George Lucas had a lot more money to play with, we would have had something completely different, and not in the classic Star Wars kind of way. I was always envious of the people who got to watch Star Wars in those very early days of release. I guess The Matrix is that for me, I was just at the right age to fall into this world. I missed so many great moments to talk about in this film, the glitch in the Matrix, Neo’s rehabilitation and training, amongst many others. But it’s all worth mentioning, the cinematography, soundtrack and storytelling. Thankfully, I will be able to go back and explore these moments a lot more in my upcoming reviews.
Thank you for visiting today. It’s been a while since my last post, and I missed it. At first, I was like, is anybody enjoying this site? After a while, I realised that isn’t what matters because I simply enjoy the process, and it was nice to take a break and realise that. Anyway, what are your thoughts about this film? Or are you excited about the new movie in December? Let me know in the comments below, and again, thanks for visiting.