The Matrix (15)

Directed by The Wachowski Brothers
Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano

A simply stunning super-cool, futuristic action movie, that really is quite an experience. So often these days films can be summed up in a sentence. To try and describe the plot of The Matrix is much harder. Keanu Reeves plays Neo, a computer nerd who is contacted by the mysterious Morpheus who offers him the truth. This turns out to be that the world Neo knows is all one huge computer simulation created by invading aliens, and that everyone on earth is in the same VR world. The real world is one that only a few people inhabit, those who have escaped the Matrix. Of course, the aliens who control it don't want these rebels to mess up their plans and the battle between them is one that the rebels need someone to lead them. A messiah like figure who they believe is Neo. The gang includes Trinity,(Moss) a leather clad kick ass gal who natually falls for Neo, and Cypher(Pantoliano) who is less trustworthy....

If you get the chance, really try and see this film in the cinema, as the visual effects are just stunning. It is like being inside a computer game at times, and even the music sounds likes a game. The action sequences are varied. The film opens with a fantastic chase sequence with Trinity fleeing a gang of men in black. We also have some amazingly over the top kung fu fighting between Reeves and Fishburn as they are training, some real shoot 'em up scenes, and then there is the amazing super slo-mo fights, where we see people dodging bullets. As well as the action sequences, there are the other visual effects like the nightmarish hives where all the somnambulists that are the world's population sleep their lives away. The part where Neo awakens and realises that the whole idea of the Matrix is real is quite a scary scene.

What makes The Matrix such a good film though, is that like many great sci-fi action films, there is a certain mytique and mythology surrounding it. The Wachowski Brothers themselves mentioned an Alice in Wonderland theme, and indeed, that wierd and unreal story does have parallels. Then there is the conspiracy side of things. Are we really awake? Would we realise if we were inside the Matrix? And what about that old chestnut of a chosen one. Aren't people always looking for someone to believe in? Someone to save us? Also the names of the characters are very emotive; Morpheus, Trinity, Neo....Names that conjure up ideas of mythology.

While at times things can get a little incomprehensible, this film is one that appeals to the intellect as well as the imagination. You really do come out buzzing, and there are many very memorable images that stay in the mind.

As for the actors, well Reeves is a perfect star. He is very pretty to look at, and could never be accused of over acting! However, a fairly bland star is fine as flashy acting would not have been appropriate. Similarly, Fishburne gives a very restrained performance. Morpheus is a character of integrity, and Fishburn conveys this well. Carrie Anne Moss is a newcomer, who looks fabulous in the shiny leather. She is a strong action character, but the inevitable romance between her and Neo was a bit forced. Australian actor Hugo Weaving has a blast as the bad guy. He is the head honcho of the team out to get Neo and his friends, and he gets to be suitably sarcastic and weary. I loved the effects of how he was able to take over the body of anyone inside the matrix to follow Neo.

The strong sense of style which permeated the whole film and the coolness of the thing will probably keep ensure it is a real sci-fi classic, and deservedly so. I can't remember the last sci-fi film I enjoyed as much as this one. Visually dazzling, intellectually stimulating and just so stylish! Wow. 9/10

June 1999

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