Directed By: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss
Tag line: "The Fight for the Future Begins"
Trivia: Will Smith was approached to play Neo, but turned down the offer in order to star in Wild Wild West
The Matrix is a groundbreaking, earth shaking, special effects laden extravaganza. Directed by the Wachowskis, it features cinematic bells and whistles of every kind, each working in service of a unique, fascinating sci-fi tale.
Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is a corporate employee by day and a notorious computer hacker by night, known in the technological underworld as “Neo”. He’s eventually tracked down by Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), a mysterious cyber terrorist who offers to reveal a shocking truth to Neo if he agrees to meet with him. Curiosity gets the better of Neo, yet nothing could have prepared him for what Morpheus had to say. In a nutshell, Neo learns his entire life has been a lie, that what he believes to be real is merely an illusion, and that mankind has been enslaved by a race of supercomputers and trapped in a virtual reality known as The Matrix. With the help of the multi-talented Trinity (Carrie Anne Moss) and several others, Morpheus is waging a war against the Matrix, and now he wants Neo to join the fight.
The Matrix is loaded with special effects, yet knowing this in advance will in no way prepare you for just how stunning they really are. Sure, many have been duplicated over the years (including countless variations of Neo’s slow-motion bullet dodge), but this is the movie that started it all. Before we even realize what’s going on, our jaws are scraping the floor in utter amazement as we watch Trinity, surrounded by about a half-dozen cops with guns drawn, proceed to kick a whole lot of ass. She moves fast, climbing walls and leaping off furniture, using her knowledge of the Matrix to sharpen her senses, and we get to see her every movement in astonishing detail. When Trinity jumps to attack a policeman, the action slows to a standstill, leaving her frozen in mid-air, and we’re given a full 360-degree view of her hanging there, waiting to strike. As opening sequences go, this one is beyond belief.
It’s easy to impress an audience with a slew of special effects; Hollywood has spent countless millions trying to do just that. But in the end, many of those films offer spectacular imagery and little else besides. What makes The Matrix a great motion picture is the fact that its incredible stunts and startling visuals are presented in unison with a very hip, very challenging tale of man vs. machine. Strip the effects away from most blockbusters, and you’re left with the opening and closing credits. Take them out of The Matrix, and you still have a story that will blow your mind.