Details: About two hours and sixteen minutes long. Stars Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Hugo Weaving.
I watched this movie again the other day and I decided to write a review. I thought a lot about whether or not to include spoilers in this review and decided that this movie had such a profound impact upon me, that the reveals in this film were so integral to the film that this needed to be spoiler free.
I first watched this film back around the year 2000. I did not watch it in theaters, but on video. Somehow, despite the ridiculous popularity of this film at the time, no one spoiled it for me. When I eventually did watch this film, it was in it’s whole, unspoiled glory. I then understood why everyone I knew was buying Matrix sunglasses, wearing black trench coats, and admiring overpriced cell phones. This movie was transformative for me. I must have watched this video over one hundred times. I watched this film to the point where I memorized every single word of dialogue spoken by any character. It was insane. I had never seen such a movie as this. Fast forward to a few nights ago when I decided to give it another watch and this movie still holds up wonderfully. Despite its age, this movie is still one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen.
The premise is this: a hacker (played by Keanu Reeves) is contacted by a mysterious figure named Morpheus (played by Laurence Fishburne) who offers to reveal the truth about this world. That’s really all you need. There are so many reveals in this movie that anything more might take away from the film.
It’s been so long that many people likely forget the impact this film had on the movie industry. This film was one of the first films to truly show what computer generated effects are capable of. This film coined the term “bullet time,” where we not only go into slow motion, but the camera moves around while the characters are moving in slow motion. This was something that before this point had never been done nor been done this well.
However, where this film shines and truly elevates itself to a timeless classic is in its practical effects. I’ve watched the behind the scenes featurettes on this film and what they went through to create some of these scenes is amazing. Reeves, Moss, Fishburne and Weaving spent months with legendary fight choreographer Yuen Wo Ping and his team training in martial arts and wire work in preparation for this film. Their efforts are apparent in this film and add an authenticity and realism that is often done wrongly in other films. There are not a lot of Western films that can portray Chinese style martial arts action well, but this is one of them. It is a joy to watch these action scenes.
I’d love to talk more about the action but I don’t want to spoil this film if I can help it. All I can say is prepare yourself for guns and kung fu.
And we haven’t even gotten to the performances. While Keanu is certainly a wet blanket, the rest of the cast do an incredible job. Most notably, Hugo Weaving does one of the most iconic performances of a villain in cinema history. His performance reminds me of Carl Sagan with a little more evil added in.
It’s just such a great movie with such a unique, memorable tone. This movie oozes style and throughout the film, I was reminded of ideas and images from comic books and anime that I’d seen before. It just attempts so many things and had so many imitators subsequently try to copy what this film achieves.
If you have any doubt whether or not you should watch this film, don’t. Go watch this film. Do no ask anyone about their opinions nor should you go and search the internet for anything regarding the film. Rest assured this is a great movie and one of the greatest action movies ever made. It is so good, so forward thinking that it easily holds up, even now.