There are some lines of demarcation in film history, but one that shocked the world was the release of The Matrix. Coming from the minds of the Wachowskis, their exploration of their wants and desires created a phenomenon. A creation that could only have come from this filmmaking duo, the combination of high-concept sci-fi, neo-noir, and kung-fu films sent shockwaves through the culture. It made the Wachowski’s visionary creators and created one of the great action film actors in cinema history. Regardless of how you feel about the sequel content, The Matrix stands tall amongst the year’s best. In fact, it might be the best action film of the past twenty years.
BEST QUOTE #1: “Free Your Mind.”
When I Fell in Love With The Matrix
This one had me from the word go. I truly believe that the Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) escape to open the film sets the tone. It showcases the now-iconic wire tech that would come to define the franchise. It introduces our villains, the agents led by Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) as a force that makes other law enforcement shake. Yet perhaps most important of all, it gives us a taste of the action that would reignite popularity in the genre. Combining the sci-fi elements of the tech world with Eastern Martial Arts became a perfect combination that sells the world the Wachowskis had envisioned. Those opening six minutes set the tone for the rest of the film and remains one of best cold opens to a film ever.
BEST QUOTE #2: “There Is No Spoon.”
Most Rewatchable Scene
It remains a small miracle that The Matrix lucked into Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne. Each of the roles the actors nabbed have come to define their careers. For Keanu, it marked him as a legitimate action hero. For Fishburne, it cashed in his chips that he’d laid over the past decade as a wise man with an undeniably badass streak. No scene illustrates their chemistry more than the first showdown in the gym. As the two fight at unprecedented speeds, the Wachowskis built exposition into their playful banter. Can this moment be silly and campy at times? You bet. But does that make it any less effective as a storytelling device? Not at all. Wickedly entertaining and featuring some of the great stunts of the film, the fight sequence still sends shivers down my spine.
BEST QUOTE #3: “What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?”
Perhaps no moment found its way into the public lexicon faster than Keanu dodging bullets. Instantly parodied in every possible comedy over the next few years, the bullet-dodging scene became instantly iconic. Nothing like it had been brought to life before, and while the CG elements of the scene do not necessarily scream quality in 2019, you cannot deny they broke ground in 1999. The scene follows one of The Matrix’s most controversial sequences, but the rest of the film kicks into high gear at this point. The last thirty-five minutes of this film are sheer perfection, and the bullet-time sequence changed cinema.
BEST QUOTE #4:
“I know Kung-Fu.”
Why You Should Watch The Matrix Again
Beyond The Matrix becoming a box office sensation, it proved the value of original stories. That said, it stole from everything. The Bible, philosophy, sexual politics, and hegemonic theory were thrown into a blend on this one. The Wachowskis used every little piece of knowledge they had to construct this story. Yet there’s a deeply important subtext that runs through this film from beginning to end. The importance of choice, and the ability to decide who you are, is not a mistake. At the time of filming, the Wachowskis were known as the Wachowski Brothers. Now, Lana and Lilly Wachowski have reintroduced themselves to the world after transitioning.
For the filmmakers, the screenplay and ideas presented throughout the film were moments of true self-reflection. Through a modern lens, the metaphors they’ve inscribed into the franchise are hard to ignore. It makes The Matrix one of the most personal stories in Hollywood history. For their sexuality to come out in such a beautifully packaged and unique story would make The Matrix an iconic film in its own right.
Yet there are some on the Internet that have used the film for a very different reason. Blue Pill and Red Pill conspiracies have become coded language by the Far Right. The use of guns and violence has inspired some to perform horrible acts. At the same time, the film unfairly received anger after Columbine occurred in April of that year. Like Fight Club before it, the film has been taken out of context and used to create hatred.
It remains odd that one of the films that helped change filmmaking over the next ten years would have that effect. Yet you cannot talk about the film without discussing the dark side of the internet it awoke. For once, some kids who spent their lives on computers could be seen. Not all of these people were progressive like the filmmakers who created this world.
Once art becomes public, there is little you can do to control the meaning that others assign to it. For The Matrix, this can be considered a bad thing. Yet the fact that the film has withstood this negativity and remains classic bodes well. The Matrix became an achievement in blockbuster filmmaking as soon as it released. It remains one of the most quotable, memorable, and enjoyable films to throw on for a few hours. Thanks to its killer stunts and the revived career of Keanu Reeves, it took its place on the Mount Rushmore of Action films a long time ago.
What do you think of The Matrix? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Check out “You Are Who You Choose To Be: The Films of 1999” Series running for the next three weeks at We Bought a Blog. Check back for a new film every day!