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Looking Back At ‘The Matrix’ 25 Years Later

Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus in “The Matrix” | Village Roadside Pictures

Looking Back At 'The Matrix' 25 Years Later

Many movies can be released during a person’s lifetime, but only a handful leave an impact. So much so, that they can change the way movies are made from then on. A movie that achieved this was The Matrix (1999). 

Directed by the Wachowskis, the film follows Neo (Keanu Reeves) who learns his world is a simulation known as The Matrix and that humanity is at war with machines. The movie is a landmark for both science fiction and action films alike. So in honor of its 25th, here is a look back at The Matrix. Minor Spoilers Ahead!

The Action Scenes Are Still Amazing

One of the most memorable parts of this movie are the action scenes. They are done in a martial arts style, using methods such as Kung Fu, wire work, and good old late-90s CGI.

The choreography of the action can definitely be felt and everyone moves so effortlessly. The cast of The Matrix spent four months training in martial arts and stunt work, according to IMDb, and it is certainly reflected in the final product. What also works is that the fight scenes don’t go on for too long, but are still heavily relevant to the story. 

The final battle between Neo and Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) is a great culmination of Neo’s journey throughout the film. Neo is initially reluctant to join the fight against the machines, especially since he doesn’t believe he is “the one” and although he learns how to fight, he still fears agents and tries to run. By the end, however, he finally begins to believe in himself and stands his ground against Agent Smith. 

Another great thing about the action scenes is how they are shot. Unlike a lot of other action movies that use close-up shots and quick cuts during their fight scenes, this movie has them on full display. The cinematography shows each move in great detail, especially for moments in slow-mo. The editing is also nicely done with just the right amount of cuts so nothing feels too jarring.

Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity and Keanu Reeves as Neo in “The Matrix” | Village Roadside Pictures

The Visual Effects Are Impressive

With a film like this, naturally visual effects are to be utilized and this movie delivers on that front. Of course, the most iconic effect of this movie is what is known as the “bullet time” effect where a scene is slowed down or just simply slowed down. This was pulled off through the use of multiple still cameras and was one of the easiest parts to film, according to IMDb.

Some of the standout moments include Trinity (Carre-Anne Moss) in the air in a crane pose before kicking a police officer, Neo dodging several bullets, or Neo stopping bullets in mid-air. Now, this effect was not created in The Matrix. In fact, according to The Flash Pack, similar uses of it can be traced back as far as the late 1800s with the iconic photograph by Eadweard Muybridge of galloping horses. Still, The Matrix arguably popularized it and is considered one of the best uses of it. Especially when in the early 2000s, the effects were parodied in several comedies. 

That said, the “bullet time” effect isn’t the only good effect in this film. The look of the real world is outstanding. There are also the machines, with one in particular being this squid-like one known as hunters are both threatening as well as have a cool design to them. So much of this film has brief uses of visual effects that are simple, but still effective. Whether it is Neo touching a mirror, bending a spoon, or leaving the Matrix, it all looks well done, even after all these years. 

The Film Touches on Interesting Themes 

While the action and effects are both fantastic, something else that helps make this film stay with audiences is the themes it presents. One of the more notable ones is the religious themes. Many see Neo both in the movie and in real life as a “chosen one” or “Messiah” stand-in. He’s even at one point referred to as Jesus, albeit as a joke.  These religious themes can be seen even further with that it follows someone skeptical, only to learn to believe. 

One theme that has stuck with audiences in particular is the red and blue pills. In the film, Neo is given the choice to take two different pills; one is a blue pill that makes him believe whatever he wants and he goes about as business as usual, and the other is red which will “wake him up” and show Neo the truth.

This idea is further explored with the character Cypher (Joe Pantoliano). He starts as a part of the human resistance but later admits to Neo he wishes he had taken the blue pill. Then later on when he talks to Agent Smith, despite knowing the truth about the Matrix, he wants back because to him, “Ignorance is bliss”. 

The movie brilliantly shows how many in society choose to be willfully ignorant of problems that go on because they want to be comfortable in comparison to those who want to learn the truth. One of the best parts of this movie is how many themes and ideas it touches upon including the dangers of A.I., the internet, mind over matter, etc. This isn’t a simple action movie with neat effects, there is a lot more to it.

Keanu Reeves as Neo in “The Matrix” | Village Roadside PicturesKeanu Reeves as Neo in “The Matrix” | Village Roadside Pictures

The Matrix’s Legacy 

The Matrix is a triumph of spectacular effects such as the “bullet time”, intriguing ideas including the red and blue pill, astounding choreography, a memorable soundtrack, magnificent camerawork, top-notch editing. 

The movie would go on to win Best Visual Effects at the 2000 Oscars, beating out Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999). It was also later put in the National Film Registry in 2012. To this day, it is considered by many to be one of the greatest science-fiction and action movies ever made. 

The film initially spawned two sequels, Matrix Reloaded (2003) and Matrix Revolutions (2003), that were initially meant to be a self-contained trilogy. There was also a spin-off, The Animatrix (2003), which was an anthology movie of different stories in The Matrix with each one using a different animation style. 

There were also a few video games, Enter The Matrix (2003) and The Matrix Online (2005) which were considered canon in the movies. Most recently there was a fourth movie, Resurrections (2021), which brought back a few original cast members and one of the Wachowskis, Lana. A lot of these Matrix projects are considered to be inferior to the original film, but they each have their share of defenders for various reasons. All in all, The Matrix is an entertaining experience that will continue to be beloved. 

The Matrix and its sequels can be streamed on Max.

“The Matrix” Official Warner Bros. Theatrical Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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I am from Michigan. I am a recent graduate of Bowling Green State University majoring in Film Production with a minor in Media Production.
Author at Dead Talk News | Posts

Omid Rad is a freelance writer, movie lover and overall geek.