We Revisit the 1999 Classic Pre Matrix 4

Cypher, Morpheus, Neo, and Trinity pose together on The Matrix poster.

A clipping of the poster of Matrix.
Image: Warner Bros.

Seeing Matrix for the first time it was one of the most formative experiences in my personal cinematic journey. It was a few weeks before the premiere, the movie was screened early at my university and everyone was piling up to see the free, random Keanu Reeves movie. Nobody knew what awaited us. Minutes later, the history of cinema changed before our eyes. (I wrote about this extensively here.). For that reason, and many others beyond that, Matrix nostalgia holds a special place in my heart. Could be a great Star Wars fan but I did not see the originals in the theater. For MatrixI was there from the beginning and as a result, rewatching the movie now is a powerful experience.

Obviously, I am not alone in that feeling. History has certainly been kind to Matrix. Filming the movie Reeves in action stardom (Speed helped too, of course), made familiar names of innovative directors the Wachowksisand upped the ante in terms of sci-fi visuals with the invention of “bullet time.” But somehow none of that is what stands out while watching the 1999 movie on the eve of the return of the franchise. Instead ofWhat stands out is how inventive, brave, and mind-blowing the ideas in the movie are. It is a movie that has such a strong voice. This the voice is saying things that a lot of people have never heard before. Meanwhile, the movie execute those ideas with direct confidence that makes the experience riveting even without all the action pieces and visuals. But when you add them too, it just takes everything to another level.

On Matrix, we meet thomas andersonKeanu reeves), office worker by day, hacker by night. His hacker name is Neo, and Neo is contacted by a man named Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) with the promise of a mysterious truth. What Neo finds, however, is more than he bargained for. Morpheus reveals that Neo, and everyone else in the world, actually lives in a digital simulation called “The Matrix”. Their minds believe that they are living a normal life but In reality, machines with artificial intelligence have taken over the real world for years and have been using human bodies for energy. Morpheus believes that Neo is “The One”, a being born within youhe Matrix and the only one who can defeat machines. Lots of helicopter crashes, shootings, and close calls later, that belief is revealed as accurate when Neo, aka tThe One, defeat one of the tThe ubiquitous and unstoppable authority figures of the Matrix, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), for the first time in history. Roll the credits, listen to the Rage Against the Machine song.

Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus

Red or blue?
Image: Warner Bros.

In writing this short summary, I couldn’t help but imagine the looks of the Warner Bros. executives when the idea was first brought up to them. You have to imagine that they were absolutely dumbfounded. “You want us to pay for a movie about what?” In fact, in Brian Raftery’s book Better. Film. Year. Always, producer and then-Warner Bros. executive Lorenzo DiBonaventura is quoted as explaining this exact situation. “Nobody got it,” he said. “[Executives] I’d say ‘How does this work? I am sitting in a room, but in reality I am living in a machine. What the hell are we doing? ‘”

And yet eventually thanks to an elaborate presentation filled with detailed concept art and Warner Bros. ‘ Willingness to bet, the Wachowksis got it. It helped that the story is incredibly clever. It makes you consider your own existence, real or not, in all kinds of ways. And it uses tropes and genres that audiences know and love to tell this clever new story in a very popcorn-friendly way., in a digestible way. In the decades since, many movies have tried to be this cool, flashy, or smart, but very few have come close. These days, most studios wouldn’t even touch on such a big original idea, especially not without a major star (which Reeves wasn’t exactly at the time), renowned filmmaker (which the Wachowskis weren’t quite yet), or franchise brand (which, of course, the movie didn’t have). In fact, through the lens from 2021 feels like a miracle that Matrix exists at all.

Trinity and Neo fight on a roof.

An action sequence on the roof.
Image: Warner Bros.

That was my main feeling when I saw the movie again. Just utter shock at how lucky I was to have experienced Matrix As it slowly took over the world Beyond that, I was in awe of the propulsion of the storytelling, the dynamic characters even in the smallest roles, and the way complex ideas float through the story and then are left alone, absorbing you more and more deeply. By the time it gets to the big “What is the Matrix?” reveal, he’s so invested in that they could have finished the movie there and sold tickets for the second half. And that investment is crucial to fully appreciate and make everything that happens next: “I know kung fu”, “There is no spoon”, “Wow!“-work. Because if you don’t care about these characters or believe in this”place,” all that color it would probably feel wildly random. But the way the Wachowskis prepared the movie is almost like a playground: hThese are the rules now let’s see if we can break them.

Also, for me, there is that simple nostalgic factor. Although I had not seen Matrix from start to finish in probably five years, I basically grew up with it. I still know every little whisper and gesture that occurs from start to finish. And while the memories of each moment transported me to 1999, I smiled over and over again.

But of course I was going to enjoy and love Matrix in a new look. It’s the fucking Matrix. It’s amazing. But this is where this experiment gets interesting. On my way to Resurrections, Now I’m going to look Reloaded and Revolutions, of which I have almost zero memories of the latter. You will be able to read those thoughts soon and I can’t wait to see how they frame my expectations for the new movie. Because right now, with one movie ready to go and two remaining, this new Matrix be one of my most anticipated movies of all time. But then again, it was too Reloaded, And that one ended up having an underground rave orgy.

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