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He Said, She Said Review Site
The Matrix

The Matrix

What He said:


Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is leading a double life. By day, he’s a regular guy. He’s got a job in an office, is generally bored – if not unhappy – with that job, and longs for something more out of life. By night, he’s Neo, a well-known hacker who sells programs to other hackers and is searching for answers about the mysterious Matrix and a man named Morpheus, who seems to know something about it. The authorities say Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) is a cyber-terrorist, but Neo is strangely drawn to him. He has to know more about the guy and this Matrix he keeps hearing about. It’s all the talk amongst hackers.

It turns out he gets his chance sooner than he thinks. One night while at a club he meets a enigmatic woman named Trinity. She says that she can show him what the Matrix is, and answer all of his questions. The very next day he’s contacted by none other than Morpheus, while at work of all places. The authorities have been monitoring Neo and immediately take him into custody and begin questioning him about his relationship with Morpheus. Since he didn’t do anything, they are forced to let him go, but are following him closely. He is again contacted by Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss). She alerts him that he is being followed and that they must act quickly if they are to help him. She takes him to Morpheus and this is his life is forever changed.

The Matrix

Morpheus informs him that he is stuck in a dream world. Literally. Everything he knows about life is a lie, because he’s living in a virtual reality environment created by artificial intelligence. The real world is a shit hole that looks like something out of a post-apocalyptic movie. Neo is hesitant to believe him, but eventually acknowledges the truth.

I remember when this movie was new, that was a huge revelation. The idea that the real world wasn’t real blew audiences away. We knew exactly how Neo felt, because we were just as shocked. It’s pretty  much common knowledge now, but back then nobody knew, so when saw it and were told everything we knew was a lie, it really resonated with people. Our reaction was kind of like this. Not many movies manage to shock audiences anymore. I’m not sure if it’s because of the way they are presented or because we’ve all seen so many movies we’re numb to a lot of it. Either way, this was one of the few in the last 15 years that still managed to surprise people.

The other part of this equation is the machines themselves. As Morpheus informs Neo, the Matrix is a virtual reality environment created and maintained by machines. Most of humanity is enslaved inside the Matrix and not even aware of it. The rest live in the last human city. It’s called Zion. Its members hack into the Matrix in an attempt to free more humans and destroy the Matrix. The humans on the outside are hunted by killing machines called sentinels. The humans on the inside are kept inline by software programs called Agents. An Agent’s job is to maintain order inside the Matrix and eliminate the threat from the outside. They are a freed human’s number one enemy inside the Matrix. They will stop at nothing to eliminate you. They want to kill you or capture and torture you long enough to get useful information about Zion’s whereabouts. The Agents are led by a program named Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving).

Smith works with two other Agents and appears to be their leader. They function as a group, but even then he appears to be the one calling the shots. Most of the time they seem to function as a singular mind, but there’s something about Smith. He shows more individuality than any other program the humans have ever seen. Unlike other Agents, Smith isn’t just programmed with stopping the human resistance, he’s obsessed with it. He’s doing more than simply obeying orders, he is driven to complete his mission for unknown reasons. He knows that he is programmed with a mission, but it is more than that, even he can feel it. Weaving’s performance of this unique character has made him one of the more memorable villains in recent movie history.

The Matrix

Oh, and I should mention that Morpheus believes Neo to be some kind of savior. There is a woman inside the Matrix known only as The Oracle. She (Gloria Foster) has the power of foresight, which she uses to guide and advise the resistance. She predicted the emergence of “the One” and Morpheus believes this is Neo. Neo is uncertain, but Morepheus’ faith is unshakable.

I really liked Foster’s performance as the Oracle. She had a very comforting demeanor. She’s got the power to see into the future, but is just this chill old lady who likes making cookies and eating candy. She is wise, but not intimidating at all. She has a very calming way about her and Foster did a wonderful job showing that. Imagine if your grandmother had the wisdom of a Buddhist monk or some other respected figurehead. That’s the Oracle in a nutshell.

The Matrix

The Matrix captured audiences around the world for a few reasons. It was a combination of so many different things that you wouldn’t think work together, but do and do so well. They’re part science fiction – with a heavy emphasis on the cyber punk culture – part kung-fu flick, with some religion and philosophy thrown in along the way. The kung-fu and philosophical/religious stuff seem like they’re a natural fit (and really they are). You find yourself really want to delve into and discuss the mythos of the movie too. But the introduction of the science fiction stuff seems like it is totally in the opposite direction; but it is but it works despite being at the opposite ends of the spectrum. The Wachowski siblings (can’t call them brothers anymore) did a really good job of creating this world that blended so many different things, without making it feel random or excessive. The combination of all these different elements feels very natural. 

The performances of several characters could be called wooden, but that’s just kind of how some people are in The Matrix universe. Morpheus is a little mysterious and aloof. He has unshakable faith. He’s not exactly an everyday guy, but more like a philosopher or holy man. He’s not the kind of guy you hang out with for fun, because he’s always on. The wise old Obi-Wan Kenobi is who he is. His followers – while a little more emotional – are very much like him. It’s all about the cause, so I can get why they’re not the most fun people in the world. That and they have killer robots trying to eliminate their species. They’re not exactly a lot to be happy about in their world. Reeves has been accused of being wooden, and he can be, but in this situation it doesn’t matter, and actually makes sense. He’s a guy who is bored by life. He feels like a slave/zombie and finds out he actually is, ha! Trinity is a lot like Morpheus, so again, her flat demeanor made sense to me. There’s background characters who add more emotion, so it events out. As I stated earlier, I simply love Gloria Foster’s performance as the Oracle. She’s one hip old lady, but one with the ability to see into the future! Hugo Weaving’s performance is also quite good. The character Smith is a software program with specific duties. He has to do what he’s programmed to due. But that being said, he has some kind of conflicting nature going on inside his artificial brain. He’s not only doing his job because he’s programmed to, but because he’s obsessed with completing the mission. His sanity depends on it.

The effects might seem a little dated/overdone at times, but it does not take away from the enjoyment of the movie. There were a few times I rolled my eyes, but I still really enjoy this movie.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on March 25, 2013.