Keanu Reeves and Hugo Weaving star in THE MATRIX, directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski for Warner Bros.

The Matrix (1999, Lana and Lilly Wachowski)

I have this vivid memory of seeing The Matrix in the theater. When the agents, dressed in their black suits, got out of the car, everyone groaned–they thought it was a Men in Black reference. Of course, the thing about The Matrix is it fakes being wholly original.

One of the nice things about being technically dynamic and full of great special effects is not having to worry about the actors much. Keanu Reeves is fine. Laurence Fishburne is pretty good. Carrie-Anne Moss’s only good scene is the one romantic one.

Hugo Weaving is great.

Joe Pantoliano is okay. Gloria Foster’s one scene is good. Marcus Chung, the biggest supporting cast member, is annoying and has some rather bad readings.

The Wachowskis composition is startling–it’s an exploration of what Panavision can do, in a way no one’s really done since Spielberg in the seventies.

Don Davis’s music is great.

I always notice it and don’t want to forget, especially now. The Matrix is unique in being a mainstream American movie where the leaders are black–Fishburne, Foster; looking at how Iron Man or Batman use their black characters, things have clearly gone downhill. Now, we have tokenism for the twenty-first century.

I haven’t seen the film in about nine years. It’s better than I remember it. Not as startling as the first viewing, but solid. The lack of plot originality isn’t an issue–it’s so well-made, not just technically, but as a communal filmgoing experience.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Written and directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowski; director of photography, Bill Pope; edited by Zach Staenberg; music by Don Davis; production designer, Owen Paterson; produced by Joel Silver; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Keanu Reeves (Neo), Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus), Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity), Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith), Gloria Foster (Oracle), Joe Pantoliano (Cypher), Marcus Chong (Tank) and Julian Arahanga (Apoc).


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