The Matrix (1999) Directed by Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski. With Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving and Joe Pantoliano.
“Do you want to know what it is?” Frankly, by 2012, you ought to know already. The Matrix is that truly exciting piece of intelligent science fiction that comes along every blue moon and reminds everyone of just how exhilarating a trip to the cinema can be.
1999 was an exciting year for sci-fi fans. It was the year that would herald the triumphant return to the silver screen of George Lucas’s Star Wars franchise…or so we thought. Lurking in the shadows was this instant classic that seemed to come from nowhere and steal the force from under Lucas’s bearded chin. The Phantom Menace went on to become a gigantic commercial smash, but two crucial things were lost that The Matrix won in spades; critical acclaim and fan approval.
Written and directed by the Wachowski’s, The Matrix is like The Wizard of Oz meets Alice in Wonderland on the way to The Terminator. Its influences are many and its execution is sublime, to the point that it feels wholly original, fresh and exciting. New ways to integrate computer graphics with live-action were pioneered such as the famous bullet-time effect that has since been replicated many times in inferior works.
The Wachowski’s dreamed up a clever and relevant idea, that, at the back end of the 1990’s, when the age of the Internet had dawned and many people found themselves working in office cubicles, staring blankly for 9-hours per-day at a VDU, seemed to resonate powerfully to those feeling disaffected with the world they found themselves ‘living’ in. Add to that some of the most inventive action sequences seen in years, with a look and tone that just screamed ‘cool’, and the Wachowski’s found themselves newly anointed cult heroes of Hollywood.
The Matrix still makes many people’s all-time top 10 lists, but you can’t have a discussion about it without mentioning the disappointment of the sequels. Experiencing it 13-years on, it’s pleasing how well it hangs together. There’s a sense of energy and discovery that felt incredible to witness back in 1999 and somehow survives to be seen today. Truly one of the most significant science fiction films ever made. 5/5