I can’t remember when I last saw The Matrix, but it’s been a number of years. I remember the black trench coats, Hugo Weaving’s disconcerting Agent Smith, and the bullet-time sequences, but the story beats were lost on me.
It’s unclear if I simply forgot the plot, or if I didn’t care enough to pay attention. Watching the film again in 2019, I am shocked at how well The Matrix has held up. The action sequences have been borrowed from in countless movies since, but they still evoke a sense of tension and release. The style is impeccably crafted and is its strongest quality.
Neo and Morpheus’ fight inside the training program was an incredible display of choreography and grandeur. We are meant to marvel at how quickly Neo has mastered martial arts through the uploading of skill programs, but Morpheus effortlessly counters Neo’s every move. As badass as Neo is, Morpheus is just plain cool.
He blocks each punch and kick with a simplicity and bravado that can only be described as virtuosic. While many people may see Neo’s fight with Agent Smith as the coolest battle (in particular, Neo’s ability to play limbo with bullets), I’ve always been particularly fond of the fight in the building’s lobby. The destruction of the support columns is fascinating, and the amount of debris in the air adds to the insanity and confusion of the gun battle.
For me, the style of the film is the coolest part. The cyberpunk aesthetic of the real world is gritty, dirty, and disgusting. Everyone’s clothes are full of holes and falling apart, and the technology looks like it has been put together from parts found behind a RadioShack. It’s astounding that the rebels choose to live in this world rather than the comparatively clean and slick world of the matrix.
This juxtaposition feeds into the political undertones of Marxism. The matrix is the world inhabited by the bourgeoisie, while the proletariats live in the muck and grime of the real world. While they could live more comfortably in the world of “the machine,” the rebels choose to be in control of their own lives and exist in a world that is better for the many than the few.
I really didn’t expect to love The Matrix as much as I did. I expected the CGI to be rough around the edges and the combat to be dull in comparison to what has come in the two decades since its release.
Instead, I found a film that stands the test of time and lives with Ex Machina as one of the best movies about artificial intelligence. Keanu Reeves and Lawrence Fishburne perfectly encapsulate their characters, while Hugo Weaving creates an uncanny valley-like feeling with his performance as Agent Smith. Anyone with any love for science fiction needs to see this film and revel in its cyberpunk glory and Marxist undertones.
The Matrix was released to theaters on March 31, 1999. Earning $463 million dollars world-wide at the box office.
The Matrix Synopsis:
Neo (Keanu Reeves) believes that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), an elusive figure considered to be the most dangerous man alive, can answer his question — What is the Matrix? Neo is contacted by Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), a beautiful stranger who leads him into an underworld where he meets Morpheus. They fight a brutal battle for their lives against a cadre of viciously intelligent secret agents. It is a truth that could cost Neo something more precious than his life.
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano
Categories: Movie Anniversaries