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copyright ©1999-2001

flick pick | The Matrix 1999
Directed + written by: Andy + Larry Wachowski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under:
action, sci-fi
Watch it when you’re in the mood for
something:  action-packed, hip 
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: / 5 

Plot synopsis Thomas Anderson is an office drone by day; by night, he’s a hacker named Neo. He’s a pretty ordinary guy leading a pretty normal life – albeit, one filled with more than the usual number of computer crimes – but Neo’s dissatisfied. Surely, he thinks, there must be more to an existence than this. One evening he wakes up at his computer screen to find the machine spelling out cryptic messages for him. Intrigued, Neo follows its instructions, and finds himself at a club where a woman named Trinity awaits. Trinity brings Neo to see Morpheus, leader of a small band of outlaws, who tells Neo the unbelievable: this world he thinks he inhabits, it isn’t real. It’s the Matrix, a computer-generated dream world created by a race of evil, intelligent machines to control human beings.  Morpheus and his group of rebels, who’ve managed to break free from the Matrix, have been cruising around in the real world, dodging the authorities while they search for a way to liberate the human race. They’ve learned to manipulate the Matrix and jump in and out as needed, but what they’re looking for is the One that’s destined to destroy the Matrix. And in Neo, Morpheus is convinced he’s found their savior.

Review Smart, beautiful, and get-the-adrenaline-pumping fun, The Matrix is that rare breed of movie that’s both fine filmmaking and excellent entertainment. It’s essentially a comic-book-inspired origin story about the birth of a superhero named Neo, though with a sci-fi bent that poses the (by-now) usual questions concerning the potential of artificial intelligence to blur the lines between the real and the virtual. Unlike the vast majority of action sci-fi thrillers, the script is tight: there’s nothing in the plot that snaps you out of the film’s fictional world and makes you go, What kind of an idiot do these filmmakers take me for? This is remarkable, considering there’s plenty of the fantastic in The Matrix, from the notion of directly downloading knowledge into your head, to the idea that (virtual) reality could be manipulated with one’s mind, to the fact that we’re asked to believe Keanu "Whoa" Reeves is not only a computer hacking genius, but the Chosen One. (Actually Reeves, bless his very-pretty-little-head, seems just right for the role, as his character’s supposed to be befuddled for most of the film. And boy does he look good doing kung-fu in black leather.) The entire film is just visually spectacular, thanks to some very stylish camerawork and beautifully evocative production design. And it features some truly memorable characters – notably Carrie-Anne Moss’ super-sleek action-heroine Trinity and Hugo Weaving’s evil Agent Smith, whose fabulously weird way of stretching out syllables into a highly distinctive drone just about steals the movie. But the real reason The Matrix takes my breath away is simple: those dazzling, elegant fight sequences, where the characters race up walls and fly through air and do kung-fu, pas-de-deux dances with their enemies ... they just kick ass. —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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