Film Commentary (4-4-99)
Bruce Lee meets William Gibson - The Matrix
Genre: science fiction/action/mystery
Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves - heart throb to females and homosexuals alike) is a mild mannered software programmer by day, and an ace computer hacker by night under the nom de plume of "Neo." Neo quickly finds himself a pawn in a vast conspiracy involving what seems to be the government and a band of computer hacker rebels led by the enigmatic "Morpheus" (Lawrence Fishburne). Neo is quickly recruited by the rebels and soon becomes the center of a deadly cat and mouse game in which not only his fate, but quite possibly the fate of the human race rests on virtually his every action.
This film's plot is virtually identical to that of last year's Dark City. It recycles nearly ever science fiction clique used in the last forty years. The first lesson Neo learns is that his reality is an illusion and that the human race is enslaved. It seems that the year is not 1999 as Neo believes, but more likely 2199. Just after the turn of the 21st century, mankind constructed its first artificial intelligence. It quickly turns on them (Collossus: the Forbin Project) and humanity was forced to fight for its survival (The Terminator). In the initial war, they attempted to cut off the AI's source of solar energy it used for power by blackening the sky, however, it soon learned that the human body produces bio-electric and thermal energy which it could harness for its own uses. As a result, the AI begins to harvest humans. Artificially engineering human conception and growth (Brave New World) and keeping them in cocoons to drain their energy. It keeps the human slaves under control by creating an virtual reality world through which the individuals live their conscience lives: the "Matrix.". A few humans survive and fight the AI. They seek "The One" who will be able to consciously alter the Matrix to destroy the AI and set humanity free. Meanwhile, they are pursued by hunter/killer programs dressed like Men in Black called "Agents."
Despite using these worn-out cliches, it actually works. This is the best action film since last year's Blade. Written and directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski whose last effort was the film Bound (the only know lesbian-mafia movie). The Matrix is an action-packed, ass-kicken sci-fi thriller that will leave you entertained as you wait for the new Star Wars movie. The action sequences are extraordinarily complex and sophisticated using the latest computer generated special effects with seamless effect.
The high tech sheen of the kinetic action sequences are accentuated by the sharp performances of Carrie-Anne Moss, who brings a disarming toughness to her performance, and Hugo Weaving as the bad guy Agent who literally oozes evil to produce a very menacing villain. This is not Citizen Kane or a seriously artistic film, and it doesn't have such pretensions. Its goal is to be entertainment, and that is good in and of itself. It performs this goal in a workman like manner and gives you your money's worth with out being a ludicrous Hollywood formula flix (i.e. Armageddon).
Return to Ryanburg's Reel Reviews