Friday, February 24, 2012

100 Movies - No. 56: The Matrix

56. The Matrix (1999)
Science Fiction, Action, 136 minutes
Directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski
Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss and Hugo Weaving

When The Matrix was released in 1999, it gave audiences something new. Some of the ideas had been used before, but the overall combination had not. It can be viewed as a cool action/sci-fi movie or as something a lot deeper.

Thomas Anderson/Neo (Reeves) has a regular job working in an office cubicle, but searches online for the identity of someone when he's at home. One day, his computer communicates with him by text messages and his life is forever changed. After following suggestions made by the messages, he meets Morpheus (Fishburne) and Trinity (Moss).

Morpheus gives Neo a choice and shows him how the world really is. It's been taken over by sentient forms of artificial intelligence and humans are nothing more than fuel. Human life no longer exists in the sense that we know it. Instead, experiences are artificially created in the minds of the imprisoned humans. Morpheus and a small group offer Neo the chance to fight back.

After the initial setup, we see Neo undergoing his training. Morpheus and his crew are able to impart knowledge of any kind within seconds by loading information directly into Neo's brain. We see him learn many different martial arts and his skills are tested in a fight with Morpheus. Success depends on Neo's belief in his ability rather than actual physical prowess. He's capable of jumping huge distances and moving at speeds which aren't possible in the world as we know it.

Morpheus leads a fight against the A.I.'s and believes that Neo is The One, as predicted in a phrophecy. If true, Neo might have the ability to liberate all humans and allow them to live real lives.

Action scenes are frequent and use slow motion to emphasize some of the moves. It's a cool effect and is part of the reason that The Matrix is one of the most popular science fiction movies ever made. As I mentioned earlier, it can be viewed as something deeper. It's up to you whether you see it as a comment on religion or on life itself. It's definitely a movie which can be enjoyed on more than one level.

If you like The Matrix:

The Matrix is the first part of a trilogy. Some fans think that the remaining two parts are weak and ruin the good work set up in the first part, while others see the trilogy as one long story. I'm in the latter group and believe that The Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions are essential viewing if you like the setup in the opening installment. Reloaded includes one of the best chase scenes I have ever seen. Revolutions is slower, but does offer a conclusion to the trilogy. I believe that most of the complaints are due to the fact that the effects seen in the opening installment were fresh and subsequent entries showed us a world that we already knew. Some of the mystery was gone.

I've already mentioned Avatar in this 100 movies series and there are clearly similarities. Both involve worlds created inside the mind and include long training sequences.

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  1. I saw Matrix during its initial theatrical run and of course loved it. Even at 16 years old, I felt like I had just watched a "game changer." Good post!

  2. Thanks Brian.

    Watching it again yesterday, it still looks pretty cool. I was tempted to watch Reloaded again immediately, but didn't have enough time.


  3. "Some fans think that the remaining two parts are weak and ruin the good work set up in the first part" I'm one of those :D

    1. I still think Part 2 is great, but part of the appeal of the first is that we are finding out so much about that world. Part 3 is easily the weakest.