Release Date: March 31st, 1999
Running Time: 2 hours and 16 minutes
Written & Directed by: The Wachowskis
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving
By: Michael “MovieBuff801” Dennos
By this point, I feel like a typical, straightforward review of The Matrix would just feel redundant, seeing as how its praises have all been well-sung. So, since I’m always trying to think of interesting ways to do movie reviews every once in a while, I thought it’d be fun to try out a style that I’ve seen others use: the “live” style of reviewing. Basically, what you’re about to read is a list of thoughts I had as I was watching the movie again, presented in a format not unlike that of live tweeting. I certainly had fun doing this, and it’s my hope that you’ll enjoy reading it.
Here we go …
00:06 – I always enjoy it when the opening studio logos are incorporated somehow into the movie or made to reflect the movie.
02:17 – And here we’re introduced to Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith, such a cool villain.
04:30 – I really like the slightly washed-out, green and black color scheme this movie has most of the time. It definitely feels like it reflects how hope itself has drained out of this futuristic society.
07:13 – “Wake up, Neo…” Effective foreshadowing.
08:50 – Black leather is everywhere in this movie.
12:13 – I’ve always thought Keanu Reeves’ boss in this movie was supposed to reflect Agent Smith somehow. Same way of talking and everything.
14:30 – If Laurence Fishburne is trying to guide you to safety via phone, you bet your ass you do as he says!
15:42 …Even if he asks you to jump on a scaffold on the side of a skyscraper.
17:25 – This interrogation scene between Smith and Neo is great, but I can’t help but notice, given Reeves’ appearance in this scene, how much he looks like his future character John Constantine in it.
21:31 – Gotta love the “It was just a dream!” cliché. By the way, more foreshadowing? I think so!
23:06 – The woman who holds a gun on Neo in the car, Switch, has always looked like Keanu Reeves with white Conan O’Brien hair to me. How ironic.
25:50 – And enter Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus. This first act is very well-done.
27:05 – The barrage of interesting, head-hurting ideas and philosophy begins.
29:12 – I love the reflective shot of Neo and the two pills in Morpheus’s glasses.
33:25 – Our first glimpse of this movie’s real special effects is great, as is the imagery.
40:13 – “What is real?” Not a groundbreaking question to build a science fiction story around, so it’s all about the execution. And the Wachowskis execute it compellingly. Interestingly, I always get “lost” somewhere in Morpheus’s explanation, even though I still get the big picture of it all. Like it is for Neo, it’s a lot to take in at once.
45:30 – As much as I appreciate how well-realized the world of The Matrix is, I almost feel like I need a “Matrix Bible” to keep track of all the various details, of which there are many.
47:25 – If I’m being completely honest, the Zion aspects of the story, while definitely good (don’t get me wrong), still feel like they can drag in spots throughout the trilogy.
51:00 – The fighting in these movies is still friggin’ cool.
54:03 – “Whoa.” Keanu Reeves does a very good job in this movie of acting as our “surrogate”, taking in the information being hurled out just as we are.
58:16 – I’m just realizing now exactly how much the Wachowskis used Morpheus’s sunglasses to get some really interesting shots.
1:04:00 – Joe Pantoliano really is quite good in this movie. But, of course he plays the turncoat.
1:10:00 – Normally, one might start getting restless 70 minutes into a movie like this where it’s been all set-up and exposition so far, but not in the case of this movie.
1:12:00 – “It is not the spoon that bends, but only yourself.” Some of the ways in which this movie’s philosophies are worded, it’s kind of hard not to chuckle, especially the more times you watch it.
1:23:00 – The wise instructors always have to sacrifice themselves, don’t they?
1:30:00 – The movie starts embracing its action side here, and the transition feels more like a proper payoff rather than a jarring shift.
1:32:00 – Damn, does Hugo Weaving know how to command your attention.
1:37:00 – More Hugo Weaving awesomeness. This whole one-on-one scene between him and Morpheus is definitely my favorite scene featuring him in the movie, even if it’s briefly broken up by Neo and Trinity “arming up.”
1:41:00 – Time to kick some ass! I love this shootout.
1:44:00 – Ending the shootout with an elevator joke works.
1:45:00 – By the way, this isn’t the first time Keanu Reeves has found himself climbing through an elevator shaft in an action movie (see: Speed).
1:46:00 – Ah, bullet time.
1:48:00 – Boy, the Wachowskis sure make the action in this Third Act be worth the wait.
1:54:00 – You know how most times when an action movie is nearly all action during the entire Third Act, it soon becomes exhausting? Well, not here. All of this action is spaced out the right amount, and there’s good variety to everything: shootouts, explosions, fist fights.
2:00:00 – Building off that, this whole foot chase between Neo and the agents is also very thrilling.
2:01:00 – One small complaint: I’m pretty sure it’s nearly impossible to fire a Desert Eagle handgun one-handed. Then again, this is The Matrix …
2:04:00 – Another thing, the Neo/Trinity relationship always felt a bit rushed to me.
2:06:00 – Pretty awesome way to kill off Agent Smith, even if it wasn’t permanent.
2:09:00 – Alright, the movie’s over, time for some overall thoughts. This is a very good, strong movie. It fully realizes the world it creates, brings us into it with proper explanation and even gets to have fun with it. The performances are all-around strong and the action is pretty great. Would I qualify this as a great movie, though? Well … not quite. I do think the movie’s requirement to throw so much information and exposition at you in the first half gives the film a kind of touch-and-go pace at first, but once it settles in, it takes off. The central idea that our world isn’t real is not exactly new, but it’s handled effectively. I may have my complaints, but The Matrix is still a very damn good movie at the end of the day.
NEXT WEEK: Suburbia has never been so “super.”