Tag Archives: The Matrix

The Matrix

5 May

Neo One, Neo

published in the Boston Phoenix March, 1999

matrix

Like Dark City, David Cronenberg’s upcoming eXistenZ, and even Sean Connery’s freaky ’70s flick ZardozThe Matrix is a feverish sci-fi thriller that combusts on the idea that man’s perceived reality is in truth a virtual veil controlled by a higher, undetected dark force. Keanu Reeves, who always looks good on screen but seems to be from the Al Gore school of drama when it comes to dialogue and emoting, finally lands in another action role (since Point Break and Speed) that works with him. Here he plays a computer nerd who goes by the alias of Neo. After an all-night hack session, he’s sought out in the flesh by a fellow on-liner named Trinity (an angular and bondage-clad Carrie-Anne Moss). She warns that “they” are watching and “they” are coming. Neo is engaged by the notion of something bigger and diabolical but nevertheless drones on in his mundane corporate hell until a trio of Men in Black assassins show up and things erupt into a spectacular FX extravaganza.

The “they” in question are agents of the new order, a world run by computers and machines, where mankind believes it exists in the prosperous 1990s when it is really enslaved as a sheepish energy source on a barren Earth nearly a century later. It’s through a creepy, digital caesarean that Neo is birthed into the resistance by Laurence Fishburne’s charismatic Morpheus, who believes the über-hack is “the one” (shades of Little Buddha?) to master “the matrix” and free man’s mind. The performances by Fishburne, Moss, and Hugo Weaving as a relentless agent are noteworthy, but the real stars of The Matrix are the Wachowski brothers (the team who made Bound) and their slick, gothic future world, where hip black garb is paramount, cyber combat is a death-defying thrill ride (heightened by the mesmerizing use of “dead time” FX), and an individual can become an instant martial-arts expert simply by downloading a program to his or her cerebral cortex.