The Matrix

Directed By: Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe Pantoliano

How many movies have you seen where a director uses slow motion to emphasize big moments in action sequences?  How many times have you seen fools nearly break their necks trying to lean back as much as possible while dancing or horsing around?  How many times has someone asked you to take the red or the blue pill?  You can thank The Matrix for all of this.  Andy and Larry Wachowski's sci-fi masterpiece forever changed filmmaking and pop culture alike.  It was a rare phenomenon that stands as one of the most influential blockbusters of all time.

Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is a computer programmer by day and a hacker by night.  Under the alias of "Neo", he searches relentlessly for the meaning of cryptic references to what's known as the matrix.  When instructed by some anonymous user to follow the white rabbit to learn more about the matrix, Neo ends up going out to a club with his friends against his wishes.  There, he meets a woman named Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) who tells him that his search to learn more about the matrix is not in vain and that a man named Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) can answer his questions.

Unfortunately, Neo is arrested later that night by three agents.  Led by Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), these agents make Neo an offer he can't refuse — to help them catch Morpheus, arguably the most dangerous man alive.  Though reluctant, Neo is forced to help them in an unimaginable way.  When they let him go, Neo runs into Trinity who takes him to see Morpheus.  This mystical figure offers Neo a choice — to stay in "Wonderland" and continue his ordinary life by taking a blue pill or to see how deep the rabbit hole goes by taking a red pill.  Neo chooses the red pill and enters a world he never could have fathomed.

What is the matrix?  For the one or two individuals that don't know, it's a system of control so that machines can turn humans into batteries.  Beyond this, it's one great movie.  While The Terminator may have beaten it to the punch in depicting the conflict between men and machines, The Matrix is one of the most important films of the last 20 years.  It's visually stunning, intellectually stimulating, and infinitely creative.  With this film that constantly blurs the line between what's real and what's only in your mind, directors Andy and Larry Wachowski have crafted an all-time classic chock full of incredible action sequences, strong writing, piercing commentary on society, and nonstop pop culture references.  The Matrix is the movie that took sci-fi films to a whole new level and made pay phones cool again.

The action is simply magnificent in The Matrix.  Undoubtedly we all have our own favorite moments in the film, but the important thing to note here is that there are so many great scenes from which you can choose.  You've got a little Kung Fu here, some cool slow motion there, and a phenomenal climactic battle that's an ode to a Western duel.  And that's just the tip of the iceberg.  What more could you possibly ask for?  The film is full of awesome badass action sequences that push the boundaries for mainstream cinema.

Blurring the line between reality and dreams is a terribly difficult feat, but the Wachowskis make it seem so easy.  While the film is visually impressive, this is a feat that can only be accomplished through words.  To create this world that makes us question what is real, the Wachowskis needed to arm their cast with the right tools, namely the words to bring this futuristic mind-blowing concept to life.  Basically, it requires some brilliant writing.  With this in mind, I only have two words to say on this matter.  Mission accomplished.

The Matrix is the definition of innovative and creative filmmaking.  With impressive action sequences and the realization of a grim futuristic world, what stands out the most is the movie's powerful philosophical and social commentary.  It all revolves around control because that's what the matrix is all about.  It's a system built to control the human race.  In a not so subtle way, the Wachowskis are suggesting that society is a prison that we can't touch, smell, or taste.  That's some heavy stuff for a sci-fi movie.

While Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Laurence Fishburne all give enjoyable performances, the standouts are undoubtedly Hugo Weaving and Joe Pantoliano.  As Agent Smith, Hugo Weaving gives us one of the greatest movie villains of all time.  He sees mankind as a virus plaguing the earth and machines as the cure.  With every word of his slow yet powerful commentary, Weaving oozes with a methodical evil.  As Cypher, Joe Pantaliano brings his comedic chops to the film.  He took the red pill and clearly regretted it.  As he tries to cope with the harsh realities of life, he makes it hilariously clear that he would take the blue pill if given the chance all over again.

The Matrix is truly one of the greatest science fiction films of all time.  You don't need anything with this one.  Take the red pill and relive the sensation that is The Matrix.  This classic gets a sober rating.