The Matrix is a 1999 science fiction action film written and directed by The Wachowskis, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe Pantoliano. It depicts a dystopian future in which reality, as perceived by most humans, is actually a simulated reality called "the Matrix", created by sentient machines to subdue the human population, while their bodies' heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. Computer programmer Neo learns this truth and is drawn into a rebellion against the machines, which involves other people who have been freed from the "dream world."
Trinity, an infamous hacker, is cornered by police in an abandoned hotel. She overpowers them with superhuman abilities, but a group of sinister superhuman black-suited Agents leads the police in a rooftop pursuit. She answers a ringing public telephone and vanishes.
Computer programmer Thomas Anderson lives a double life under the hacker alias "Neo". He believes something is wrong with the world and is puzzled by repeated online encounters with the cryptic phrase "the Matrix". Trinity contacts him, saying that a man named Morpheus can explain its meaning; however, the Agents, led by Agent Smith, apprehend Neo at his office and attempt to get a plea bargain out of Neo in exchange for helping them capture Morpheus, whom they call a terrorist. Undeterred, Neo meets Morpheus, who offers him a choice between a red pill, which will allow him to learn the truth about the Matrix, and a blue pill, which will return him to his former life. After swallowing the red pill, Neo's reality disintegrates and he awakens, naked and weak, in a liquid-filled pod, one of the countless people connected by cables to an elaborate electrical system. He is rescued and brought aboard Morpheus' hovercraft, the Nebuchadnezzar.
Morpheus explains that, in the early 21st century, intelligent machines waged a war against the humans that created them. When humans blocked the machines' access to solar energy, the machines retaliated by harvesting the humans' bioelectricity for power. The Matrix is a shared simulation of the world as it was in 1999 in which the minds of the harvested humans are trapped and pacified; Neo had lived in it since birth. Morpheus and his crew belong to a group of rebels who hack into the Matrix and "unplug" enslaved humans, recruiting them as rebels. The rebels' understanding of the simulated reality allows them to bend its physical laws, granting them superhuman abilities. Morpheus warns Neo that fatal injuries within the Matrix also kill one's physical body and that the Agents are powerful sentient programs that eliminate threats to the system. Neo's skill during virtual combat training lends credence to Morpheus' belief that Neo is "the One", an especially powerful man prophesied to lead the insurrection of enslaved humans against the machines.
The group enters the Matrix to visit the Oracle, a prophet who predicted the emergence of the One. She implies that Neo is not the One and warns Neo that he will soon have to choose between his life and Morpheus' life. Before they can leave the Matrix, the group is ambushed by Agents and tactical police. Morpheus allows himself to be captured so Neo and the rest of the crew can escape. However, their getaway is hindered by Cypher, a crew member who betrayed Morpheus to Agent Smith in exchange for a comfortable life within the Matrix. Cypher disconnects from the Matrix and murders several crew members as they lie defenceless in the real world. He prepares to disconnect Neo and Trinity as well, but Tank, a crewman whom he had left for dead, kills him.
In the Matrix, the Agents interrogate Morpheus in an attempt to learn his access codes to the mainframe computer in Zion, the rebel humans' last refuge in the real world. Tank proposes killing Morpheus to prevent this, but Neo, who believes that he is not the One, resolves to return to the Matrix to rescue Morpheus; Trinity insists on accompanying him. They rescue Morpheus, and in so doing, Neo gains confidence in his abilities, performing feats comparable to the Agents'. Morpheus and Trinity exit the Matrix, but Smith thwarts Neo's escape. Now surer of himself, Neo fights Smith as a nearly equal and defeats him, but Smith's nature as an Agent allows him to survive. Neo flees the converging Agents and locates an exit in the hotel from which Trinity had escaped earlier, but Smith shoots him, killing Neo. In the real world, machines known as Sentinels attack the Nebuchadnezzar, while Trinity whispers to Neo that the Oracle told her that she would fall in love with the One and that Neo cannot be dead because she loves him. She kisses Neo, and he revives, this time with the power to perceive and control the Matrix. He effortlessly defeats Smith and leaves the Matrix in time for the ship's electromagnetic pulse weapon to disable the attacking Sentinels.
Sometime later, Neo makes a telephone call in the Matrix, promising the machines that he will show their prisoners "a world where anything is possible". He hangs up and flies into the sky.
Why It Rocks
- The film revolutionized visual effects. This movie popularized and debuted "bullet time".
- The story and concept, such as the red pill and the blue pill are very good.
- The fight scenes are neat to watch, especially in the third act.
- The scene where the Trinity, and Neo starts having an attack on an Agent's tower is very awesome.
- Not like this... Not like this.
- Agent Smith was a great villain and has become very iconic.
- Bullet time.
- The acting is very excellent, especially for Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, etc.
- Cool slow-motion shooting effects.
- Amazing soundtrack that was made by Don Davis. Especially, the song Clubbed to Death song.
- It's sequel The Matrix Reloaded is well received.
- The movie's tone and dialogue can come off as very pretentious at times.
- The special effects haven't aged well by today's standards.
- Most of the characters have little personality and don't show much emotion.
- Despite the film's R rating, there's almost nothing explicit going on in the film, meaning the film would've got a PG-13 rated.
- Its Latin American dubbing is very disappointing or mediocre.
- AMW was poorly received.
The film was released on March 31, 1999, with acclaim reviews from critics and audiences grossing $463.5 million on a budget of $63 million. On Rotten Tomatoes, The Matrix currently holds an 88% "Certified Fresh" rating with an average of 7.6 out of 10 and a critic consensus that reads "Thanks to the Wachowskis' imaginative vision, The Matrix is a smartly crafted combination of spectacular action and groundbreaking special effects". On Siskel & Ebert, Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times and guest critic Joel Siegel of Good Morning America gave the film a two thumbs up. The film was placed in The National Film Registry in 2012.
The Matrix opened at #1 on its opening weekend with a domestic gross of $27,788,331. The film later grossed $171,479,930 domestically. In foreign territories, the film made $292,037,453. Overall, The Matrix made $463,517,383 against its $63 million budget making it a box office success.
The film won 4 Academy Awards (Oscars) for Best Film Editing, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Visual Effects.
- The film was nominated for four Academy Awards and won in all four categories, including Best Editing.
- Most of the movie was filmed in Sydney, Australia. Although the Australian city was used to represent a generic American city, many of the street names are based on streets in Chicago, where the Wachowskis grew up.
- The Wachowskis hired artists Geof Darrow and Steve Skroce to draw a 600-page, shot-by-shot storyboard of the film to get the studio’s approval.
- Gloria Foster, who plays the Oracle, first came to prominence in 1963 for her performance as a 13-year-old Arkansas girl who tries to enter her Little Rock school in the play “In White America”.
- Samuel L. Jackson turned down the role of Morpheus, which ultimately went to Laurence Fishburne. This was a moment of poetic and professional balance, as Fishburne had previously turned down the role of Jules in Pulp Fiction – a role which had earned Jackson an Academy Award nomination.
- According to the Wachowskis, the original concept for the film was as a comic book. The filmmakers had previously written for Marvel Comics, and the ambition of their idea seemed at the time suited to the limitless potential of the format.
- The lead actors of the film trained every day for four months in order to master the film’s elaborate fight scenes. The Wachowskis brought in Hong Kong martial arts choreographer Yuen Woo-ping and his stunt team to train the stars themselves in the film’s complex the fighting and wire work, in order to for the actors themselves to perform as much of the combat as possible.
- The iconic “Bullet Time” effect was conceived and created especially for the film. Rigs of still cameras were set up in patterns determined by computer simulations, and then shot either simultaneously or sequentially depending on the effect needed for the scene.
- Carrie-Anne Moss performed the stunts in which her character Trinity jumps across the rooftops. She also did all the wire stunts herself.
- Neo and Trinity’s three-minute lobby shootout took 10 days to shoot. All of the explosions and gunfire were practical effects.
- Every scene that takes place within the computer world of the Matrix was given a green tint, while all the scenes that take place within the real world have a blue tint. In fact, the only time the color green appears in the real world-set scenes is in the iconic Matrix code on the ship’s computer screen.
- The sunglasses worn in the film were custom-designed for the movie by a company called Blinde Design,
- The night club in the beginning of the film is a real place in Sydney, Australia. The Wachowskis simply asked the regular attendees of the Hellfire Club to show up in their usual attire for the scene in which Neo meets Trinity.
- There's a parody in 2001's N64 Conker's Bad Fur Day where Conker and Berri did the same thing as Neo and Trinity did.
- Charli XCX & Troye Sivan made a really good tribute to it in the music video for their song "1999".
- In fact, their Matrix cosplay is also used as the song's official single cover too!
- In 2020, Lilly Wachowski confirmed fan speculations that the movie's an allegory on transgender identity.