It is a miracle that The Matrix exists.

The Matrix poster cropped. Image by Warner Bros.

Seeing The Matrix for the first time was one of the most formative experiences in my personal cinematic journey . It was a few weeks before release, the film was screening early at my college, and everyone piled in for the random, free Keanu Reeves movie. No one knew what we were in for. Minutes later, film history changed right in front of our eyes. ( I wrote about this at length here ). Matrix nostalgia has a special place within my heart for that reason and many more. Although I'm a huge Star Wars nerd, I never saw the originals in the theatre. For The Matrix, I was there from the very beginning, and as a result, rewatching the film now is a powerful experience.

Obviously, I'm not alone in that sentiment. History has certainly been kind to The Matrix. The film shot Reeves into action superstardom (Speed helped too, of course), made household names of groundbreaking directors the Wachowskis , and upped the ante in terms of sci-fi visual effects with the invention of "bullet time." But somehow none of that is what stands out while watching the 1999 film on the eve of the franchise's return . The film's innovative, bold, and mind-bending ideas are what really stands out. This movie has such a strong voice. This voice says things that many people have never heard. The film conveys these ideas with an engaging confidence, which makes it captivating even without the visual effects and action set pieces. When you add these in, it takes everything to the next level.

In The Matrix, we meet Thomas Anderson ( Keanu Reeves ), office worker by day, hacker by night. Neo, his hacker name, is contacted by Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), with the promise to reveal a strange truth. What Neo finds, however, is more than he bargained for. Morpheus tells Neo that he and all other people in the world are actually living in a digital simulation called the "The Matrix". Their minds think they are living normal lives but in fact, artificially intelligent machines took over the real world many years ago and used human bodies as their energy source. Morpheus believes Neo to be "The One," an artificial intelligence born in the Matrix who is the only one capable of defeating the machines. After many helicopter crashes, gun fights, and close calls, Neo (aka the One) defeats Agent Smith(Hugo Weaving), who is the Matrix’s unstoppable yet omnipresent authority figures. Roll credits, cue Rage Against the Machine song.

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Which is better, red or blue? Image by Warner Bros.

This brief summary was written because I could not help but to imagine the expressions on the faces Warner Bros. executives as they heard the original pitch. You have to imagine they were positively dumbfounded. "You want our money to go to a movie about?" It was actually Brian Raftery's book Best. Movie. Year. Lorenzo DiBonaventura - producer and then-Warner Bros. CEO - is quoted as explaining the exact situation. "Nobody understood it," he said. "[Executives] might ask, "How does this work?" While I may be sitting in a confined space, I am actually living in an automated machine. "What the fuck is this?

But Eventually, it was thanks an elaborate presentation with detailed concept art, and Warner Bros.' willingness bet on their success, the Wachowskis made it happen. It helps that the story is so clever. It forces you to think about your own existence in many ways, real and imagined. It makes use of tropes, genres, and characters that people love to tell the story. Many movies have attempted to be cool, flashy and clever in the decades that followed, but few of them have come close. Today, studios are reluctant to even consider an original idea of this magnitude. In fact, through the lens of 2021 it feels like a miracle that The Matrix exists at all.

A roof top action sequence. Warner Bros.

That was my main feeling as I rewatched the film. In shock at how fortunate I was to have witnessed The Matrix take over the world. Beyond that, it was amazing to marvel at the propelling power of the storytelling, dynamic characters in even the smallest parts, and the way complex concepts are introduced into the story and left alone, pulling you in deeper. You are so invested by the end of the movie that you could have bought tickets for the second half and ended the film at the big "What is the Matrix?" reveal. This investment is vital to fully appreciate and make the best of what's next. All of that color would feel completely random if you didn't care about the characters or believe in this place. The Wachowskis made the film almost seem like a playground.

There's also that nostalgic factor for me. Even though I hadn’t seen The Matrix start to finish for about five years, I still grew up with it. I still know every little whisper and gesture that happens from beginning to end. As I recalled each moment, I smiled over and over again.

But I was going to love and enjoy The Matrix after a rewatch. It's the Matrix. It's amazing. This is where the experiment gets exciting. On the road to Resurrections , I'm now going to watch Reloaded and Revolutions, the latter of which I have almost zero memories of. These thoughts will be posted soon. Because right now, with one film down and two to go, this new Matrix be one of my most anticipated films of all time. Reloaded also had an underground rave scene, which was why it ended up being called Reloaded.

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