The Matrix


In the late nineties, Keanu Reeves was already an established screen heartthrob and star, having not only starred with Sandra Bullock in Speed, but also the first two Bill & Ted films.

But despite looking so youthful and having fresh-faced looks, he was 35 when The Matrix was released in 1999. It’s a film, as well as its subsequent sequels, that would prefix his star status with the word ‘super’ forever more.

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Waking up at his desk is computer programmer Thomas Anderson (Reeves), who goes by the hacker name of Neo. He looks at his screen and it appears to be talking to him.

It’s not long before he gets a phone call, at work, that tells him he’s in danger, and needs to get away.

It’s not long before he meets Trinity (Carrie-Anne moss) and Morpheus (Larry Fishburne) as they explain to him the concept of the Matrix, and his part in it.

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It was only the second feature for the Wachowski brothers Larry and Andy, as there were known then (who would later be known as Lana and Lilly after both announcing themselves as trans women), after their enjoyable 1996 debut Bound.

And despite being only their second feature, Warner Bros backed the pair with a substantial budget at the time of $63 million, as well as a two hour plus running time. It turns out they backed the right cyber horse, as it went on to become the fifth highest-grossing film in North America in 1999, as well as the second highest grossing film at the time for the studio, and picking up four Oscars for its troubles.

To celebrate its – wait for it – 25th anniversary, The Matrix is bullet timing its way back onto our screens.

The first thing that may grab you, whether your re-visiting it or taking it all in for the first time, is how impressive it all still looks. Its special effects still remain very special indeed, with the only thing letting it down are some curious red lasers, added in post, that look like they may have been close to being high tech in the early eighties. Other than that however, and it’s still a technical marvel.

It also still plays out like an industrial, sci-fi version of Alice in Wonderland, which is referenced a couple of times in the film, with Keanu’s Neo a tech-savvy version of Alice, falling down that cyber rabbit hole.

And It’s also interesting to see that AI plays part a large part in things in 1999, where the film is set and when it was released, proving that it’s been a concern for far longer than in just recent years.

Of course the film still makes very little in the way of sense, all seemingly taking part within the recess of code, but it doesn’t matter with its bombastic visual style and breakneck action sequences, with plenty of fighting and shooting taking place.

Also worth a mention is its impressive sound, that unsurprisingly won two Oscars – Best Sound, Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing – that still proves to be a title to impress friends with when cranking up the 5.1 home cinema sound system.

Even though it is remarkably 25 years old, The Matrix has withstood the test of time, much like its star Reeves, and remains a jaw-dropping visual spectacle.

The Wachowskis have failed to make much of an impression with their output since its release, even with 2021’s fourth instalment The Matrix Revolutions, which struggled to capture any of the ingenuity of this original, but there’s no denying that it still remains a superb, iconic, sci-fi classic, so sit back, plug yourself in, and enjoy the ride.

we give this four out of five