The Matrix (1999)
Keanu's Kicking Binary Butts
A déjà vu is usually a glitch in the Matrix. It happens when they change something - Trinity
What if the world as we see it doesn't really exist, instead what we see, what we are is just a stream of 1s & 0s in a binary world. That is the seed of thought which "The Matrix" sows as it takes us on an action fuelled journey into an alternative perception of reality. And it has to be said that whilst being thought out and thought provoking "The Matrix" also has that wow factor so whilst your mind is accepting the possibility that what we see isn't real you're entertained by stunning visuals, amazing action and performances which bring it all together in a magnificent fantasy world.
By day Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves - The Devil's Advocate) works as a software engineer, by night he becomes a computer hacker known as Neo who sits at his computer waiting for a sign, a sign he has no idea as to what it will be. But one night he gets the sign in the form of Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss - Disturbia) who introduces him to Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne - What's Love Got to Do with It) and before long Neo begins to understand that the world and his life is not what it seems to be. But Neo is special, in the eyes of Morpheus he is the One who will lead him and his band of rebels on their mission whilst avoiding the capture and probably death from Agents lead by the creepy Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving - The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert).
As Neo is the special one in "The Matrix" it has to be said "The Matrix" is pretty special in itself. It manages to combine adrenalin fuelled action with a storyline which is thought provoking, something which very few action movies even attempt let alone manage to pull off. It serves up this concept that life is not what it seems, it's a computer generated reality manufactured by AI to give clone humans in a factory something to think about as it uses their energy to power their machines. Sounds wonderfully far fetched and it is, but it's also shockingly convincing because almost every detail of "The Matrix" storyline is thought out.
There is a surprising amount of intellectual reasoning imbedded into the storyline which makes you think, even consider that maybe life isn't what it seems, maybe we are just some stream of binary digits and that such things as de ja vu are in fact glitches in the system, as it is referred to in "The Matrix". De ja vu is not the only clever twist on life as we know it which creates "The Matrix" storyline, there are religious undertones as concepts of a special one, an almost messiah style being combined with belief also become part of the bigger picture, cleverly entwined so that it again makes you think more deeply about the concepts which "The Matrix" is throwing at you.
And by the time "The Matrix" ends you really are on the edge of believing that the Wachowski's who both wrote and directed are maybe on to something much deeper. Brilliant is the only way you can describe this storyline as it manages to take the far fetched, the sci-fi and deliver it in such away it makes you start to consider it as being real.
But "The Matrix" is not just about a thought provoking concept it's an action movie and the opening scenes where we witness Trinity escaping agents, kicking their binary butts in stunning style before disappearing in a phone box just as it is demolished by a truck sets the tone of what is to come. And that high level of stylish action continues through out. We watch a brilliant martial arts training fight between Morpheus and Neo, the ballistic fight as Neo and Trinity go on a rescue mission, a brilliant fight between Neo and Agent Smith in the subway and they are just a few of the many stunning action scenes which are so well executed and choreographed that like the concept of the movie takes you to another level.
And whilst there is plenty of action the whole look of it is breathtaking. Slow motion 360 degree revolving shots as the action takes place was and still is just incredible, the chase scenes are equally well choreographed instilling a real sense of adrenalin as you watch Neo, Morpheus and all try to escape Agent Smith and his minions. The way Agent Smith transforms into other people all has the desired affect of wowing and that is something "The Matrix" has in abundance, the wow factor.
It's not just the action which delivers the wow factor as "The Matrix" takes us aboard Morpheus's ship the Nebuchadnezzar and into the real world where the skies have been scorched and AI farm human clones to create their energy source. This futuristic world is just as stunning, especially the human cloning farms which almost feel disturbing as bodies are connected to the system by a series of sturdy chords connected in the neck and down the spine. Visually "The Matrix" is a match for the high end concept of the thought provoking storyline making it feel complete.
And then there is the acting and Keanu Reeves who was not the only actor to be offered the role of Neo, can you imagine "The Matrix" being so brilliant with say Tom Cruise, Will Smith or Ewan McGregor as Neo. Whilst Reeves is often called a wooden actor his performance as Neo is brilliant, he delivers that fear and confusion as he learns that life is not what he thought it was, but as the character grows so does Reeve's performance instilling that style and coolness into his performance giving it a mesmerising quality.
That same mesmerising quality also comes from Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus as well as Carrie-Anne Moss who is undenyingly sexy as Trinity especially in various action sequences which require her to dispatch an Agent with an impressive high kick. Talking of agents Hugo Weaving is brilliantly menacing as Agent Smith almost comically cruel without feeling over the top. And the applause continues through out with Gloria Foster adding charm as the Oracle and Joe Pantoliano offering up dodginess as Cypher.
What this all boils down to is that "The Matrix" is a very special and rare movie. It manages to deliver up a thought provoking storyline with layer upon layer of stunning action without compromising either. It set the standard for what movies had to compete against after its release in 1999 and features one of Keanu Reeves's best performances as the ultra cool Neo, matched by Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Anne Moss who are just as cool as Morpheus and Trinity.
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