I first saw The Matrix in my early teens. All my friends saw it and they said they couldn’t understand it and so they had to see it multiple times. When I saw it, I believed I got it immediately and felt really good about it. Since then I have seen The Matrix multiple times only to realize how little I understood about the film, the first time I saw it.
For those born in the 80s, the Matrix (and its sequels) is the best Science Fiction movie out there. I could have easily called it arguably the best sci-fi movie of all time but then I believe every generation has an acceptance threshold that stretches over time and hence something that blasts a generation’s mind in majority is specific to that generation. The reason why an ‘Inception’ could be digested (given its twisted nature) was because we already had a Matrix.
What works most about The Matrix is the philosophy of good vs. bad and more importantly truth vs. unreal. “Is that Air, you’re breathing?”says Morpheus while training Neo and all of a sudden it hits the audience- they are in the Matrix, it’s their mind at work.
One of the most noteworthy features of the Matrix trilogy is the attention to detail. Not only does the movie provide a lot many answers to common question about it but also raises a lot of question (only to answer them later) that the viewer may not have even thought of. Why the Déjà vu meant agent interference? Why does the Oracle say the things she says? Why is Neo the one but not the only one? Why are the things the way are and how long are they going to be that way? These are just some of the many questions characters in The Matrix ask and eventually get the answer to.
Being a sci-fi movie, one looks forward to concept and implementation. The best thing about Matrix is that, not only it has probably one of the most concrete and amazing sci-fi concept and its fantastic implementation but also stitched together with a rich philosophy and appropriate reasoning behind it. There is a dialog where Agent Smith compares Human species to a virus citing the reason that while rest of the mammals stay in harmony with their surroundings, Human beings tend to consume all the resources to a point of depleting them and just multiply all the time- the same phenomenon that happens with a Virus.
Coming to cinematography, the special effects and choreography of the action scenes, I personally haven’t seen anything like it ever since. The use of slow motion representing speed and reasoning it out to be the only way it could be shown was a master stroke. The action is all unbelievable and humanly impossible and that’s what makes it so special. Since, 1999 the technology has advanced by many folds yet it’s the vision and the choreography that makes the Matrix unique and a mile apart from the rest. Using a two dimensional screen the Wachowskis displayed what even the more advanced 3D films couldn’t. Neo’s fight with Smith in the first part and his battle against 100s of Smiths in Reloaded is brilliant at the least. The Bike chase scene in reloaded became a benchmark for all other action movies. In the first part, there is a scene where Neo takes his first jump as part of his training. That scene is much more impacting than the recent Burj Khalifa scene in MI:4 (which also was great) unless you’re watching the latter on an Imax and the former on your computer. The grey-green color as the theme of the whole movie was outstanding, reminding you every second, that it’s the matrix you’re in.
By its final part (Matrix: revolutions) Matrix turns philosophical and provides more reasoning than action. While it’s the least successful of the franchise, I quite like it. In fact, this is what separates The Matrix series out of the cliché of your everyday sci-fi movies. There has to be reasoning and arguments for whatever has been done. Matrix Revolutions borrows from Hinduism and Buddhism and talks about Karma and more importantly- cause and effect. While it may not be visually as exciting it certainly achieves what it set out to.
As a viewer who has seen this film over and over almost every year, it will be my most favorite science fiction motion picture of all times. I had wanted to write something on it since the time I saw it but never really could until now. It’s an amazing film not to be missed.
This scene from Matrix is fascinating. Sometimes I wonder if just this scene inspired Christopher Nolan to make Inception.