Film Review Hotline
THE MATRIX
5 Stars
Keanu asks: Just what is The Matrix?
Reality Bites Back
STARS: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Ann Moss, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano
DIRECTORS / SCREENPLAY:
Andy and Larry Wachowski

CERTIFICATE: 15DISTRIBUTOR and Picture copyright: Warner Brothers
RUNNING TIME: 2hrs 14mins
OPENING DATE (UK): June 11
FILM OF THE MONTH
Selected from the July 1999
Film Review
Reality Bites Back

Reeves, Crown Prince of the Dodgy Movie (and King of the Even Dodgier Performance), will live for years off the buzz The Matrix has generated. It’s a movie that’s broken seasonal box-office records and sustained audience interest through amazing word-of-mouth and made the perfect move by coming out before the Star Wars prequel. One of those rare blockbusters that lives up to the hype, you’ll want to see it again just for all the little things you might have missed because you were so dazzled the first time. The Matrix is a phenomenon, a movie that makes you thankful that cinema was even invented.

Practically sworn not to reveal the true nature of the Matrix by the movie’s distributors, all you need to know is that clerk Thomas Anderson (Reeves) is a bit of a slacker, selling illegal software on the side under the pseudonym ‘Neo’ to finance his computer hardware needs. He wants to find someone called Morpheus. He’s searching for the answer to a question. He has no idea where the question came from. But the urge to discover the truth to ‘What is The Matrix?’ will lead him to places where nothing is what it seems and to people who hope he is The One…

Reeves gives the performance of his career as the naïve Neo who bears the weight of discovering the truth about ‘The Matrix’. Since his star quality is always about looking a little lost and a tad bemused, it really is perfect casting. Fishburne coolly underplays as Morpheus while newcomer Carrie-Anne Moss truly shines as Trinity, the most gob-smacking action heroine of the decade.

But the real stars of the movie are the directors. Anyone who has seen Bound will know to expect the unexpected. For the Wachowski brothers, perception is a toy to be played with, to manipulate as if it were plasticene. Not that The Matrix is remotely similar to Bound in terms of plot – but the brothers are masters of style and substance. This sci-fi classic, which it most definitely is, pays homage to (I won’t say rips off) at least a dozen well-known sci-fi movies and books but they give it such a twist, watching the movie is like having your brain squeezed. And I’ve not had so much fun in the cinema in a long time.

Laden with SFX so inventive you can’t believe you’re seeing them (and thankfully not to the detriment of the plot), The Matrix wins bonus points for the fight scenes. It’s John Woo on Class ‘A’s. The elements of Hong Kong action homage cybernetically enhanced with fluid digital effects make the brutal and unforgiving fight sequences some of the most mind-wrenching displays of close-combat athleticism ever. Even with the high levels of violence, The Matrix is a work of art – both visually and intellectually.

Taking the absolute best of Hong Kong action films, comic books, manga and wrapped in a value-for-money $60 million sheen, it’s a killer of a movie. You may never see the world quite the same ever again…

Neil Corry

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