Movie Review: The Matrix
Rating: R (violence and brief nudity)
Length: 136 minutes
Release Date: March 31, 1999
Directed by: Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski
Genre: Action, Adventure, and Science-Fiction
Stars: 4 out of 5
Science-fiction films tend not to receive large production budgets because of their limited ability to reach a wider audience, but "The Matrix" defied all expectations and went on to become a global hit after being released in 1999. Andy and Lana Wachowski, who ended up directing "The Matrix," sold the script to the film to Warner Bros. after selling the scripts of two other films to the company. In 1994, the Wachowskis convinced the president of production, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, that a script for the film "Assassins" would be a huge success. Di Bonaventura was impressed with the script that the Wachowskis had delivered, and he signed them on for a three-picture deal. The two other scripts that the Wachowskis sold to the film company were "Bound" and "The Matrix." The Wachowskis never went on to direct "Assassins," but they did end up directing "Bound." Although "Bound" was not a resounding success at the box office, Warner Bros. liked what it saw in the Wachowskis and gave them the green light to start "The Matrix" project.
The plot for "The Matrix" was considered different and adventurous by Warner Bros. at that time because the genre of science-fiction was not mainstream. The production company took a huge gamble and decided to allocate a budget of $60 million, which was extremely high for a science-fiction film. Because of the projected cost to make the film, Warner Bros., in conjunction with the Wachowskis, decided to make the film in Australia, where the film's budget could stretch much further than it would in the United States. Warner Bros. struck a deal with Australian Village Roadshow Pictures, and "The Matrix" became a co-production between the two companies.
The main protagonist for "The Matrix," Mr. Anderson/Neo, is played by Keanu Reeves. Before Reeves was hired for the role, Will Smith and Nicolas Cage were considered for the role of Neo, but both turned it down. The opening scenes of the film revolve around the character of Mr. Anderson, who works as a computer programmer. In his spare time, Mr. Anderson lives the life of a hacker under the name Neo. While Neo is using his computer, repeated references to the Matrix appear on his screen. Another hacker, Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), contacts Neo and tells him that a man named Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) can explain to him what the Matrix is. However, before Neo can reach Morpheus, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) arrests Neo and tries to prevent him from meeting Morpheus.
Trinity breaks Neo free and brings him to Morpheus, who offers Neo the choice between a red pill and a blue pill. If Neo does not want to know about the Matrix, he has the option of taking the blue pill and returning to his normal life. However, Neo is interested in what Morpheus has to say and takes the red pill, ending up on the ship Nebuchadnezzar. Morpheus goes on to explain that the current year is close to 2199, and the rest of humanity is trapped back in 1999 in what is known as the Matrix. Intelligent machines created early in the twenty-first century overpowered the human race and enslaved the vast majority of them. Morpheus wishes to recruit Neo so he can help Morpheus and his crew to fight back. According to Morpheus, the Oracle predicted Neo to be "the One," someone who can win the war against the machines.
After Neo receives training from Morpheus to enter the Matrix, Morpheus is captured by Agent Smith and his fellow agents. Neo and Trinity enter the Matrix to get Morpheus back, and in the process, Neo discovers that he has extraordinary powers. Morpheus and Trinity exit the Matrix and return back to the Nebuchadnezzar, but before Neo can do so, he is killed by Agent Smith. With all hope seemingly lost, Trinity kisses Neo while he is plugged into the Matrix back onboard the Nebuchadnezzar, and Neo comes back to life in the Matrix and defeats the remaining agents.
After "The Matrix" was released in US theaters on March 31, 1999, the film went on to become the fifth-highest grossing film of that year and brought in revenues more than seven times the film's production budget. After the DVD release of the film, "The Matrix" became the first DVD in history to sell more than one million copies in the United States. Although "The Matrix" was only intended to be a feature film, Warner Bros. was impressed with the reception that the film received. Four years later, the trilogy of Matrix films was complete with "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions." Thirteen years after "The Matrix" was released, the film was added to the National Film Registry for preservation.
"The Matrix" is undisputedly one of the greatest science-fiction films of all time, and this can be evidenced by the fact that a string of science-fiction movies were released after the success of "The Matrix." Although there are some strong themes in the film, "The Matrix" is suitable for all audiences because of the messages, both explicit and implicit, that moviegoers can take away from the film.