The Matrix (1999)

Posted in Reviews by - November 27, 2012
The Matrix (1999)

Adapting many of its geekier concepts from Hong Kong action films yet subverting them to create a dystopian experience like no other, this landmark sci-fi is a riveting watch and the film that firmly signalled the end of the 90s with a solid roundhouse kick to the face. The film’s visceral, highly charged action sequences make it a giddy ride – a blend of John Woo style slow-motion firepower and traditional kung fu fighting. The hiring of Yuen Woo-ping to handle the choreography was a master stroke and a sure-sign that the Wachowskis – both huge comic-book fans – were not here to fool around. It’s groundbreaking, too, especially with its famed ‘bullet-time’ sequences and use of ‘wire fu’ in a Hollywood production. From industrial rock to gothic clothing, from cyberpunk paranoia to Ancient Greek philosophy, from kung fu movies to comic books, The Matrix is an exhilarating representation of the Wachowski’s cinematic and cultural obsessions. The story takes us deep into a bleak, apocalyptic future where machines rule the earth, and what we believe to be the ‘real world’ is merely a computer programmed illusion designed to shield humans from the truth. The program is known as the ‘Matrix’, and only a limited number of vulnerable young humans have managed to free themselves from their dreamlike simulations. They have awoken to find the planet overrun by machines who are farming humans as an energy source. As the remaining humans bury deeper into the Earth to avoid capture by the machines, they also have to contend with the ‘Agents’ who police the Matrix; most notable among them the stoic Agent Smith (played brilliantly by Hugo Weaving). Clad in ironic business suits, the Agents wish to ultimately control their computer-generated confines, but the humans have a slight advantage. Nerdy computer hacker, Neo (Reeves), is supposedly ‘the chosen one’ – born within the Matrix but destined to save the human race from its destruction. But with a leather-clad love interest called Trinity (Moss) and a traitor in their midst, saving the world won’t be easy. This iconic, enjoyable film has very few flaws. Put simply, it is the last great action movie of the 20th century.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a keyboard in London, UK.

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