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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Keanu Reeves
Laurence Fishburne
Carrie-Anne Moss
Hugo Weaving.
Directors
Larry Wachowski
Andy Wachowski.
Screenwriters
Larry Wachowski
Andy Wachowski.
Running Time
139 minutes

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The Matrix
Cyberpunk thriller in which a band of rebel computer hackers fights the bounds of an Artificial Intelligence created reality.


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Plot
Hacker Neo (Reeves) is sought out to save the world. In order to do this he find out that his consciousness is part of a Matrix that keeps human bodies redendant and occupies their minds with a false reality. Is he "The One" to save humanity from destruction?


Review
Get this: what if all we know as reality was, in fact, virtual reality? Reality itself is a ravaged dystopia run by technocrat Artificial Intelligence where humankind vegetates in billions of gloop-filled tanks - mere battery packs for the machineworld - being fed this late '90s VR (known as The Matrix - you with us here?) through an ugly great cable stuck in the back of our heads. And what if there was a group of quasi-spiritual rebels infiltrating The Matrix with the sole purpose of crashing the ruddy great mainframe and rescuing humans from their unknown purgatory? And, hey, what if Keanu Reeves was their Messiah?

What sounds like some web freak's wet dream is, in fact, a dazzlingly nifty slice of sci-fi cool. The Wachowski Brothers (Andy and Larry - last seen dabbling in kinky lesbian noir with the excellent Bound) pulling off something like a million masterstrokes all at once. Taking the imprimatur of the video game, they meld the grungy noir of Blade Runner, the hyperkinetic energies of chopsocky, John Woo hardware and grandiose spiritual overtones into William Gibson's cyberpunk ethos to produce a new aesthetic for the millennium powered to the thudding beat of techno. And it is just incredible fun. The key is the technique of "flo-mo", a process born from Japanese animation, whereby an object in motion is seemingly frozen while the camera miraculously spins around it as if time and gravity are on hold. It grants the action (including some killer kung fu which Reeves and crew spent months perfecting) liberty to take on surreal visual highs. Superhuman feats permissible, of course, in the context of VR as the rebels download Herculean "talents" to fuel their subterfuge. Meanwhile, the audience can only gawp longingly, with its jaws thunking to the cinema floor in unison, as the heroes wrapped in skintight leather, sleek shades and designer cheekbones, spin up walls, leap from high rises and slip through streams of bullets in silken slo-mo. Tron this ain't.

Immediately reigniting the moribund cyberpunk genre (the kids can't get enough Stateside), this has thrust Reeves from his imploding career back to Speed highs (and laying to rest the hideous ghost of Johnny Mnemonic) and stolen much more of Star Wars' thunder than was thought humanly possible. For all its loony plot, The Matrix is fabulous.

Sure, the expert Fishburne is depended upon to expound the lion's share of the script as seer-like rebel leader Morpheus. Reeves, stunning in his newcast slenderness, as Thomas "Neo" Anderson, the hacker turned hope for all mankind (care of some ill-defined mystical calling) is asked little more than perpetual befuddlement. Like Speed, though, this movie plays on his iconic looks rather than his oak-like emoting. There's a major find, too, in the irresistible Carrie-Anne Moss, a majestically wrought combination of steely no-shit intelligence and rock-chick vivaciousness as fellow tripper Trinity. And Weaving, cast against type, neutralises his Aussie tones to a freaky deadpan, the head of the MiB-styled defence system set against the Goth invaders.

And sure, three minutes of post-movie deliberation and all this state-of-the-art cyberdevilry is reduced to the purest gobbledygook. That, though, is not the point. The Matrix is about pure experience; it's been many a moon since the Empire crew have spilled out of a cinema literally buzzing with the sensation of a movie, babbling frenetically with the sheer excitement of discovery.

From head to tail, the deliciously inventive Wachowskis (watch them skyrocket) have delivered the syntax for a new kind of movie: technically mind-blowing, style merged perfectly with content and just so damn cool, the usher will have to drag you kicking and screaming back into reality. You can bet your bottom dollar George never saw this phantom menace coming.


Extras

Matrix, The Matrix, The
Released: 01 January 2000
Given that on the surface this is the movie that DVD was invented for, we’d expect the ultimate in funky extras. And there are some cool items, a couple of making-of doccos, as well as animated menus and an albino critter which pops up during the movies, leading you to behind the scenes footage. But err no commentary, no deleted scenes, no production material - just a wealth of DVD-Rom features (a trivia game, a download-the script-option, essays and links to web sites) to enhance the high-tech feel.


Verdict
The deliciously inventive Wachowskis have delivered the syntax for a new kind of movie: technically mind-blowing, style merged perfectly with content and just so damn cool.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Matrix
Empire Star Rating

Awesome

The title of my review says it all - as it is always the word that springs to my mind after each time I watch it. A landmark for special effects, sci-fi and action movies, not to mention for cinema itself. No matter how disappointing the sequels were, this is still cool as hell and is endlessly entertaining. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 23:53, 07 February 2013 | Report This Post


I used to love this film but repeated viewings have some what dulled it's effect - I think the problem is that deep down it was always a bit dumb and the special effects dazzled us - Now we can do them on a home computer they no longer impress - so why do I not feel the same way about the Terminator or Aliens? Take away the cutting edge effects then there's not much left - This is the fate that awaits Avatar - Inception is in the same class as the Terminator + Aliens. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 23:45, 12 March 2011 | Report This Post


I used to love this film but repeated viewings have some what dulled it's effect - I think the problem is that deep down it was always a bit dumb and the special effects dazzled us - Now we can do them on a home computer they no longer impress - so why do I not feel the same way about the Terminator or Aliens? Take away the cutting edge effects then there's not much left - This is the fate that awaits Avatar - Inception is in the same class as the Terminator + Aliens. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 23:45, 12 March 2011 | Report This Post


A True Original

When The Matrix was released, it was so landmark in the world of sci-fi that people were thinking that the future of the genre was squarely, and solely, in the Wachowski's hands. A sci-fi action film brimming with enough invention to supply hollywood for the next million years, The Matrix is a true genre classic that does so much right and barely anything wrong. Forget the sequels for a moment and remember the time when the whole world fell in love with action movies all over again. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 10:03, 09 March 2011 | Report This Post


One of the best films i have ever seen in my entire life

Never before have i ever seen a film with such an imaginative, creative, original and clever storyline. This film is perfect. Everything about it is just unbelievably good. The Matrix is the very core of the cinematic experience. It is the very essence of cinema. The Matrix is a film that is oozing with an amount of quality that reaches unbelievable proportions of amazement. This film is the very essence of cinema becuase The Matrix has everything you could possibly want from a film. The Matrix ... More

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Posted by umuhut at 12:51, 17 January 2011 | Report This Post


BEST ONE EVER

the best science fiction film made in my opinion, on the second place: Inception? ... More

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Posted by The Great Danton at 15:58, 01 November 2010 | Report This Post


Great SFX!

Only action sequences from the first installment does some justice, rest it'''s like sitting in a classroom! ... More

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Posted by batbhai at 05:21, 11 May 2010 | Report This Post


Good not great!

Only action sequences from the first installment does some justice, rest it'''s like sitting in a classroom! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by sumiebeg at 05:15, 11 May 2010 | Report This Post


RE: The Matrix

evening though its a geeks film it just brilliant although the 2nd and 3rd are as good as the first ... More

Posted by deca4ever at 17:40, 10 February 2010 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: jobloffski Naturally, I don't think I would bother to post gibberish, and I do happen to think every 'oracle' of any kind (and by oracle I mean any religious leader, spiritual leader, political leader, or anybody else who appears to offer 'answers') is likely to be full of shit, working to secure their own future/power and exploiting the gullible who just want to believe someone has an explanation to offer them. And if there had been just one film, with the awaited messiah showing ... More

Posted by clownfoot at 12:22, 08 February 2010 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

Naturally, I don't think I would bother to post gibberish, and I do happen to think every 'oracle' of any kind (and by oracle I mean any religious leader, spiritual leader, political leader, or anybody else who appears to offer 'answers') is likely to be full of shit, working to secure their own future/power and exploiting the gullible who just want to believe someone has an explanation to offer them. And if there had been just one film, with the awaited messiah showing up and fulfilling t... More

Posted by jobloffski at 15:56, 06 February 2010 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

I appreciate the rundown, but even you must admit reading it back it just sounds like gibberish.  Which is I guess why most people rate the first movie and disown the second and third films.  I hate the whole idea of fate, it would have been better if Neo was brought out of the matrix and started to free people of his own accord.  And that's all there was too it.  The first film doesn't need sequels for that to happen.  ... More

Posted by theoriginalcynic at 12:58, 06 February 2010 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

8. Care to explain what the fuck's going on with Smith recreating himself over and over again? In it's most basic terms, the Matrix depicts Individuality in conflict with Society. (the) One person striving to be who they are in the face of a society/system that wants people to conform, in order for the society/system to run smoothly. From the point of view of the system, everything runs most smoothly if everyone does what the system wants and nothing else. So, the system would prefer pe... More

Posted by jobloffski at 11:42, 06 February 2010 | Report This Post


RE:

w, I watched the matrix last night and it's a great, great movie. Even though it doesn't have the impact it once had - in terms of I've seen it so many times, it looks amazing in HD and the special effects haven't dated. What's the deal with the oracle? I never understood that part. How can she see the future in a software generated world? And in the real world, if she's part of the matrix how can she see the future? The end. Why don't the machine's take Neo and Trinity? Is it because... More

Posted by theoriginalcynic at 23:56, 04 February 2010 | Report This Post


Last week I started watching dvd`s that I have in my collection for a long time but haven`t come around to watching them. So tonight it was time to start watching the 10 disc Ultimate Matrix Collection that I already own since its day of release, back in december 2004 (!!!) but haven`t seen anything of it yet. Until today. Of course I`ve seen the film countless times before it still is an exciting and good movie. Of course it`s style over substance with beautiful effects but the film does g... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 22:26, 06 August 2009 | Report This Post


The Matrix

Unbelievable ... More

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Posted by Blue Ryan at 14:10, 04 August 2009 | Report This Post


The Matrix

Unbelievable ... More

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Posted by Blue Ryan at 14:10, 04 August 2009 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

The first film to me will always be a classic. Went to see it when I was fifteen and thought it was the best film I had ever seen (usurped when I was eighteen and watched The Godfather for the first time), but the first film will always remain a superb film. The visuals, the action sequences and Carrie Anne Moss in that leather outfit, pure cinematic ecstacy. Have to say I love Reloaded also, more so when the action moves into the matrix itself and away from Zion, but the third is so-so. I can'... More

Posted by 00Nothing at 21:26, 02 July 2009 | Report This Post


RE:

It was the first (and last) film since Die-Hard and Terminator 2 to completely blow my socks off!! Original, thought-provoking, cool, exhilarating fun - something completely different and surprising that delivered on all fronts. Sure some of the dialog was tripe, while the hokiness of The Oracle and The One didn't make much sense (before the sequals that is) but for sheer impact alone, this film deserved 5 stars and remains my favourite movie to date until something else comes along and m... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Hillsman at 12:56, 01 July 2009 | Report This Post


The Matrix is not a perfect film, it is on visuals and the whole idea of the film is interesting but sometimes it tends to forget that and in its place there are leather and guns ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by willchadwick at 12:11, 02 November 2008 | Report This Post


Sequels are under-rated.

I am really amazed at how people are quick to under-rate anything in life that they do not understand/ grasp at all in the first place, when actually 'Understanding' is the prime requisite. Calling an innovative idea by some visionary as a masterpiece and then the very next moment calling the second part of that idea a 'garbage' smells of 'Hypocrisy' to me. As a post-graduate in the subject of Artificial Intelligence, I am in a better position than most to rate any Sci-Fi movie &... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Amol at 08:51, 26 September 2008 | Report This Post


It's a classic!

Watched it for the 1st time in ages last night. This film may have spawned some very shoddy sequels that tainted the Matrix's cool factor ...but the original still stands as a slick, smart and unique sci-fi action blockbuster and should be respected as such! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SkullKassidy at 08:50, 02 August 2008 | Report This Post


I loved most of th fight scenes(especially the fight etween neo and the agent at the end.)

I don"t think it deserved 5 stars,it"s definitely a classic but movie"s don"t have to be amazing to be a classic,after all risky business is a classic because it was Tom Cruise"s 1st movie but yet it only got 3 stars. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JohnPaul1996 at 12:37, 01 July 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Revolutionary

L: Dr Lenera Certainly not perfect  sags badly in the middle,and borrows from everything from Dark Cityst In The Shell,but this is still a great visionary piece of science fiction that successfully melds big ideas and great entertainment.  Many of the visuals still wow and the action remains brilliantly staged.  As for Keanu Reeves,his woodenness seems oddly appropriate.  Despite what most critics say,the sequels build on the original,take the story in intere... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by max314 at 17:31, 13 June 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Revolutionary

I would say +Spoiler!!+ , but if anyone who ain't seen Reloaded reads this !!!d thinks "Fuck! You've spoilt it for me now I know that Neo is of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the matrix. You are the eventuality of an anomaly. hought he was just a karate man who's handy with a shooter...   Neo - Why am I here? The Architect - Your life is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the matrix. Yo... More

Posted by DanCurley at 16:53, 11 June 2008 | Report This Post


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