Action / Sci-Fi
(US); 1999; Rated R; 135 Minutes
Keanu Reeves: Thomas "Neo" Anderson
Laurence Fishburne: Morpheus
Carrie-Anne Moss: Trinity
Joe Pantoliano: Cypher
Hugo Weaving: Agent Smith
Produced by Bruce Berman, Dan Cracchiolo, Andrew
Mason, Barrie M. Osborne, Joel Silver, Erwin Stoff, Andy
Wachowski and Larry Wachowski; Directed and screenwritten
by Andy and Larry Wachowski
by DAVID KEYES
all around us. It has been pulled over your eyes to blind
you from the truth..."
is what we are told regarding the infamous "Matrix," as
it is spoken of in whispers by the individuals of a virtual
urban society. People lurk in the shadows to try and avoid
it, but all the same, it is in control, having ultimate
power. All is built upon the foundations of machines, computers,
and technological systems. It controls their world, and
thrives on their humanity. But all the manipulation goes
noticed by someone, and that someone has the power to destroy
this Matrix, and possibly save his race's existence.
think closely. This is, of course, the setup to "The Matrix,"
but it's also in close relation to last year's stunning
and magnificent "Dark City." Each movie contrives a universe
built upon the foundations of inhuman intelligence, and
both contain images so unique and refreshing that they will
not be forgotten. Like Alex Proyas' "Dark City," "The Matrix"
is a movie so visually enthralling, so exciting and so elaborate
that it deserves nothing short of universal acclaim. It's
lavish, fascinating, beautiful, magnificently written, well
directed, and effectively executed in every way. From the
nourishing imaginations of directing/writing duo Andy and
Larry Wachowski, the movie jumps off the screen with its
dazzling effects and compelling setup, to the point where
multiple viewing are necessary to appreciate its artistic
richness. Here, I was not reviewing a film, but being sent
on a fabulous journey into the depths of imagination. It's
a journey that no one should take less than once.
Reeves stars as the "foretold liberator" Thomas Anderson,
who begins the movie as a computer hacker. When he is discovered
by a renegade named Morpheus through messages appearing
on his computer screen, he is given clues of the 'reality'
he lives in; "it's looking for you," the beautiful outcast
Trinity warns him, without ever telling him more than he
needs to know.
the film's strongest character, is played by the brilliant
actor Laurence Fishburne with the depth and intrigue of
a convincing savior. He talks, acts, thinks, and moves like
Wesley Snipes from "Blade"; examples of his tremendous screen
presence can be seen mostly through the dialogue, in particular
when he uses questions on Neo like "What is real, and how
do you define it?" Does this computer hacker know the answers?
And for that matter, do we?
whose film past has faded due to poor efforts like "Johnny
Mnemonic," acts as little as possible here, which allows
him to relieve pressure on a role that is mostly made up
of Hong-Kong-style fighting sequences and big shoot-outs
with enemies known as the "Agents." The film's action sequences
that involve more stunt work than special effects are realistic,
because they use real fighting rather than just the illusion
of it. Actors worked for a rumored four months with Hong
Kong fighting specialists and stunt coordinators. They say
that experience allows you to make any illusion seem realistic,
and if that's true, then it applies here.
complete plot summary does not apply, because what you have
in "The Matrix" is a story with numerous layers of intrigue
piled on top of each other, so that revealing too much of
it would spoil the whole setup for people who are going
to see it. What needs to be discussed is the richness of
the visual treatment, in which cameraman Bill Pope captures
the characters in perfect locations and allows them to be
exposed to the virtues of special effects. The film's best
shot takes place atop a building, when Neo uses his upper
body to dodge numerous bullets as they begin to pelt toward
him from a distance. The scene begins at regular speed,
and then as the camera swerves around him, everything slows
down until you have a still shot that looks like a 3D picture
being examined from every possible angle. The city is textured
with beautiful tones of blue and black, and is photographed
in an attempt at capturing the most intricate aspects of
the elaborate skyline.
cities, like the ones in "Dark City" and "Metropolis," help
create what Hollywood considers "film noir," where you are
given a skyline filled with dark shadows to carry on the
film's menacing character impulses. It is a treatment used
mainly in detective films, but has also been found in some
famous Hollywood movies like "Detour" and "Sunset Boulevard."
like these convey tremendous entertainment in the way the
filmmakers treat them, and the way that audiences respond
to them. No doubt, "The Matrix" will likely find its audience
in teenagers, as well it should. It's scary, fun, intriguing,
gorgeous, and one of 1999's best movies.
1999, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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