A crop of the poster for The Matrix. Image: Warner Bros.
Seeing The Matrix for the first time was one of the most formative experiences in my personal cinematic journey . A few weeks prior to release, the film was being shown at my college early and everyone packed in for the free, random 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. The Matrix was a film I saw from the beginning. Rewatching it now is an amazing experience.
This sentiment is not unique to me. The Matrix has had a great history. Reeves became an action star (Speed also helped), and the Wachowskis became household names. However, none of this is what stands out when you watch the 1999 movie . Instead, what stands out is just how inventive, gutsy, and mind-bending the ideas in the film are. It's a movie that has such a strong voice. This voice says things that many people have never heard. Meanwhile, the film executes those ideas with an in-your-face confidence that makes the experience enthralling even without all the action set pieces and visual effects. When you add these in, it takes everything to the next level.
We meet Thomas Anderson ( Keanu Reynolds), an office worker and hacker. His hacker name is Neo, and Neo is contacted by a man named Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) with the promise of a mysterious truth. Neo uncovers more than he could have imagined. Morpheus tells Neo that he and all other people in the world are actually living in a digital simulation called the "The Matrix." While their minds think they're normal, in fact, artificially intelligent machines took over the real world many years ago and used human bodies to store energy. Morpheus believes Neo to be "The One", a being who was born in the Matrix, and is therefore the only one who can defeat them. After a series of close calls, helicopter crashes, gun battles and gun battles later, it is proven to be true when Neo, aka The One, defeats Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), one of the Matrix’s most powerful, unstoppable authority figures. Roll credits, cue Rage Against the Machine song.
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Is it red or blue Image by Warner Bros.
While writing this brief summary, I couldn’t help thinking of the expressions on the faces Warner Bros. executives when they first got the idea. It is easy to imagine them completely dumbfounded. "You want us pay for a film about what?" This is actually Brian Raftery's book Best. Movie. Year. Lorenzo DiBonaventura - producer and former executive of Warner Bros. - is quoted as explaining the exact situation. He said, "Nobody understood it." "[Executives] will ask, 'How does it work? While I may be sitting in a confined space, I am actually living in an automated machine. "What the fuck is this?
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Eventually, however, Thanks to an elaborate presentation packed with detailed concept art, and Warner Bros.' willingness bet, the Wachowskis achieved their goal. It was also helped by the fact that the story was incredibly smart. It forces you to ponder your existence, real or not, in many different ways. The movie uses familiar tropes to tell a new story, while still being easy to digest. There have been many attempts to make movies as clever, flashy, and cool over the years. But very few movies have come close. Nowadays, most studios won’t even consider a big idea like this without a major star (which Reeves didn’t exactly have at the time), reputable director (which the Wachowskis weren’t yet), franchise branding (which, of coarse, the film did not have). The Matrix is actually a miracle through the lense of 2021.
A roof top action sequence. Image: Warner Bros.
This was the main emotion I felt as I watched the film again. The Matrix took over the world slowly, and I was completely shocked at how lucky that made me feel. Beyond that, I marveled at the propulsion of the storytelling, the dynamic characters in even the smallest roles, and the way complex ideas are floated into the story and then left alone, sucking you in deeper and 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. It is important to invest in yourself and fully understand what happens next. Because without caring about these characters and believing in this "place," all that color might feel wildly random. The Wachowskis have set up the film almost like a playground. Here are the rules. Let's break them.
Plus, I love the nostalgic aspect. Although I hadn't seen The Matrix in its entirety for five years, it was something I grew up with. Every little gesture and whisper that occurs from the beginning to the end is still etched in my memory. The memories of every moment took me back to 1999, and I smiled again.
But ofcourse. I was going on to love and enjoy The Matrix upon a second viewing. 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 soon be available and you can read them here. I am eager to see how they shape my expectations for the new film. The new Matrix, which has one film completed and two more to go, is currently one of my favorite films. But then again, so was Reloaded, and that one ended up having an underground rave orgy.
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