This is the first of a new weekly Monday “Netflix” review. Every “Netflix” review will be based on a movie that is currently available on Netflix. Due to Keanu Reeves being on my mind because of the John Wick films I came across this classic that I haven’t seen for many years. I was also fortunate because my wife has never seen this movie and I was able to enjoy her reactions throughout the film.
The Matrix was written and director by the Wachowskis and tells the story of Mr. Anderson, aka Neo, played by Keanu Reeves as a computer programmer by day and a hacker by night who attempts to uncover what is know as the Matrix. I’m going to assume almost everyone has seen this movie so spoilers throughout. The Matrix turns out to be a program simulation that all human beings are fed into. A war broke out in the near future following the creation of A.I. or artificial intelligence. Mankind blackened the skies assuming that the robots could not live with out the sun as their greatest source of power. However, instead of the robots being defeated they instead treat human beings as nothing more than a battery and humans are grown in fields.
The film’s journey finds the man Morpheus, played by Laurence Fishburne, who has been destined by the “Oracle” to find “The One” who is prophesied to free humans once and for all from the tyranny of A.I. and the prison of the Matrix. Naturally, Morpheus believes Neo, Reeves, to be this very individual. Along the way we meet a handful of side characters and Neo’s love interest Trinity, played stoically by Carrie Anne Moss. The main antagonists of the story are programs within the Matrix called “Agents” who look like government secret service agents decked out in black suits, a white shirt and tie. Agent Smith, played tremendously by Hugo Weaving, is the leader of these antagonists and has a true disdain for human kind and the Matrix he is trapped in. He believes capturing Morpheus and obtaining codes to Zion, the last remaining human strong hold near the Earth’s core where it is still warm, is the key to escaping the Hell he feels trapped in .
The film has four acts. The first act is us the audience following Neo as he attempts to uncover the truth about the Matrix. This first act is wonderfully done. The film is constantly giving us hints that the world we are looking at is really just the Matrix. Many times the camera zooms and or pans into a frame and we see the lines of the Matrix cover the screen. These subtle moments work really well for rewatches as we see the hints the directors give us that something isn’t quite right.
Once we discover the truth about the Matrix the second act begins and Neo is forced to come to grips with the hard truth as he tries to accept that he truly is “The One”. The third act begins with Neo being told he is not “The One” and our hero’s being betrayed from within. The fourth act breaks open as Neo decides to sacrifice himself and rescue Morpheus by using guns … lots of guns.
Their are many iconic moments in this film. We have the blue pill or the red pill scene when Neo decides to discover the truth. The Matrix literally invented “Bullet Time” and while it looks corny by today’s standards, it was revolutionary at the time. The action set piece when they go into the building to rescue Morpheus still looks great today and is the quintessential 90s action scene.
Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving do a fantastic job with each of their roles and truly bring a believability to this fantastical world. Hugo Weaving’s monologues opposite Laurence Fishburne have a subdued-maniacal feel to them and feel almost Shakespearian. The Matrix was a ground breaking film that still looks great today. The Wachowskis did an amazing job and knocked it out of the park. Many aspects of this film are scene in action films to this today. While the sequels may not live up to the grandeur of the first film, I will always appreciate seeing this movie for the first time and truly being blown away by it’s story and spectacle.