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  • Writer's pictureRonny Duncan Studios

The Matrix (1999)


Plot Summary: Computer programmer Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves), known by his hacking alias "Neo", believes that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), an elusive figure considered to be the most dangerous man alive, can answer his question: What is the Matrix? He is eventually contacted by Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) who tells him that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) has the answers he seeks. Morpheus soon discloses that Neo is the man he has been searching for who is The One - the person who can bend the Matrix to their will and is the one prophesied to free mankind from the Matrix. But just how far down the rabbit hole is Neo willing to let Morpheus take him?


Cast:

  • Keanu Reeves as Neo/Thomas Anderson

  • Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus

  • Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity

  • Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith

  • Joe Pantoliano as Cypher

  • Marcus Chong as Tank

  • Anthony Ray Parker as Dozer

  • Julian Arahanga as Apoc

  • Matt Doran as Mouse

  • Gloria Foster as The Oracle

  • Belinda McClory as Switch

  • Paul Goddard as Agent Brown

  • Robert Taylor as Agent Jones

*Recognition:

  • The film won four Academy Awards including Best Film Editing, Sound, Sound Effects Editing, and Visual Effects.

  • In 2001, The Matrix placed 66th in the American Film Institute's "100 Years...100 Thrills" list.

  • In 2007, Entertainment Weekly called The Matrix the best science-fiction piece of media for the past 25 years.

  • In 2009, the film was ranked 39th on Empire's reader-, actor- and critic-voted list of "The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time".

  • The Matrix was voted as the fourth best science fiction film in the 2011 list Best in Film: The Greatest Movies of Our Time, based on a poll conducted by ABC and People.

  • The Matrix was also influential for its impact on superhero films. John Kenneth Muir in The Encyclopedia of Superheroes on Film and Television called the film a "revolutionary" reimagination of movie visuals, paving the way for the visuals of later superhero films, and credits it with helping to "make comic-book superheroes hip" and effectively demonstrating the concept of "faster than a speeding bullet" with its bullet time effect. Adam Sternbergh of Vulture.com credits The Matrix with reinventing and setting the template for modern superhero blockbusters, and inspiring the superhero renaissance in the early 21st century.

  • In 2012, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Did You Know:

  • The Wachowskis harbored their vision for five and a half years, working through fourteen drafts of the screenplay. Although most studio executives who read the script loved their ideas, they had extreme difficulty imagining how this would translate onto the screen. The Wachowskis then hired leading illustrators Steve Skroce and Geofrey Darrow, who created over 600 storyboards. Executives were reportedly sold immediately after seeing the bold vision on display, and green-lit the film.

  • All scenes that take place within the Matrix have a green tint, as if watching them through a computer monitor. Scenes in the real world have a blue tint. Blue was also used at a minimum within the Matrix, since the directors thought blue was more of a real-world color (despite, ironically, blue being often the least-occurring color in nature). The fight scene between Morpheus and Neo, which is neither in the real world, nor in the Matrix, is tinted yellow.

  • Will Smith was approached to play Neo, but turned down the offer in order to star in Wild Wild West (1999). He later admitted that, at the time, he was "not mature enough as an actor" and that, if given the role, he "would have messed it up." He had no regrets, saying that "Keanu was brilliant as Neo." Sandra Bullock had been offered the role of Trinity, but turned it down because Will Smith was in the film. She regretted her decision; had she been cast, she would have been reunited with Keanu Reeves, with whom she previously starred in Speed (1994).

  • Legendary Hong Kong stunt coordinator Woo-Ping Yuen initially refused to work on the film. Even after receiving the script, which he liked, he hoped that by asking for an exorbitant fee, it would turn off the Wachowskis. When that failed, he next gave what he considered an impossible request: he'd agree only if he had complete control of the fights, and that he be allowed to train the actors, with his own team, four months prior to shooting. The Wachowskis complied.

  • At the directors' request, the actors and actresses were to be able to understand and explain The Matrix, not only as a film, but a philosophy. Simulacra and Simulation was required reading for most of the principal cast and crew. Keanu Reeves stated the Wachowskis had him read Simulacra and Simulation, Out of Control, and Evolutionary Psychology even before they opened the script. Eventually, he was able to explain all the philosophical nuances involved. Carrie-Anne Moss commented that she had difficulty with this process.

  • Prior to the pre-production, Keanu Reeves suffered a two-level fusion of his cervical spine, which had begun to cause paralysis in his legs, requiring him to undergo neck surgery. He was still recovering by the time of pre-production, but he insisted on training. Stunt coordinator Woo-Ping Yuen let him practice only punches and lighter moves. Reeves trained hard, and even requested training on days off, however, the surgery left him unable to kick for two out of the four months of training. As a result, Reeves did not kick much in the film.

  • Carrie-Anne Moss performed the shots featuring Trinity at the beginning of the film, and all the wire stunts throughout, herself.

  • In the combat training program, before Neo spars with Morpheus, he rubs his nose with his thumb and finger, similar to Bruce Lee before he attacked his opponents. The move was improvised by Reeves.

  • By the middle of 2002, the famous "Bullet Time" sequence had been spoofed in over twenty different movies.

What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: A messianic figure is woken from a computer-simulated reality to free mankind.


Best Performance: Keanu Reeves (Neo)/Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus)

Best Secondary Performance: Keanu Reeves (Neo)/Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity)

Most Charismatic Award: Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus)/Keanu Reeves (Neo)

Best Scene:

  • Trinity Escapes

  • Interrogation of Thomas Anderson

  • Red Pill or Blue Pill

  • Training

  • The Oracle

  • Cypher's Betrayal

  • Rescuing Morpheus

  • Subway Duel

  • He's the One

Favorite Scene: Rescuing Morpheus/Subway Duel

Most Indelible Moment: Subway Duel


In Memorium:

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Cypher: I know what you're thinking, 'cause right now I'm thinking the same thing. Actually, I've been thinking it ever since I got here: Why oh why didn't I take the BLUE pill?


Neo: We need guns. Lots of guns.


Agent Smith: You hear that, Mr. Anderson? That's the sound of inevitability, that's the sound of your death, goodbye, Mr. Anderson.


Morpheus: Unfortunately, no one can be told what The Matrix is. You'll have to see it for yourself. This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill: the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill: you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.


Morpheus: I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life. That there's something wrong with the world, you don't know what it is, but it's there. Like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?

Neo: The Matrix?


Neo: I thought it wasn't real. Morpheus: Your mind makes it real.


Morpheus: Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.


Morpheus: If real is what you can feel, smell, taste and see, then 'real' is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.


Morpheus: All I'm offering is the truth, nothing more.


Agent Smith: I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure.


Trinity: The answer is out there, Neo, and it's looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to.


Neo: I know you're out there. I can feel you now. I know that you're afraid... you're afraid of us. You're afraid of change. I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin. I'm going to hang up this phone, and then I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.


The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 9

Impact/Significance: 9.5

Novelty: 10

Classic-ness: 8.5

Rewatchability: 6.75

Audience Score: 8.8 (91% Google, 85% RT)

Total: 52.55


Remaining Questions:

  • Why would you die in the Matrix if it's a fake reality?

  • If the Agents are fast enough to dodge bullets, how can they not catch up to someone running on foot?

  • If you need someone to help put you into the Matrix, how does Cypher get in to make a deal with the Agents without anyone knowing?

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