Big Picture Big Sound

The Matrix Review

By Joe Lozito

"The Matrix" does not compute


Keanu Reeves plays Neo. This is usually the point where I would mention something about his character, but really what's the point? There are no actual characters in "The Matrix". In fact, the only defining trait that any of the cardboard cut-outs in the film have is a clever "hacker-alias" (like "Switch", "Tank" and "Dozer"). But because of this lack of three-dimensionality, Mr. Reeves is actually the perfect choice for his role. No one can't act like he can. His blank expression perfectly fills a role which is really nothing more than a guide to lead the audience into the film's special effects wonderland. The audience is Neo, being led from scene to scene, making the choices which, in the end, are simply the most fun to watch.
It's possible that, in place of characters, the Wachowski Brothers (who both wrote and directed the film) were meaning "The Matrix" to contain some amount of substance. The brothers have come up with a wonderfully outlandish, futuristic plot in which in the very artificial intelligence that we humans had the arrogance to create has enslaved our race in, basically, a giant cyber ant farm. Think of it as "virtual sur-reality".

There is no denying that fact that the Wachowski Brothers have amazing imagination and vision. They direct the film with non-stop style and imbue each scene with enough eye-candy to make you stop noticing the gaping plot holes and lapses in logic. The most egregious being the need for our resilient heroes to constantly find specific telephones in order to escape from the reality in which they're trapped. It is never made clear why these telephones are special, or why they can't just use their omnipresent cellular phones as a means of escape. But that wouldn't be as much fun would it?

And what about those special effects? Yes, they are amazing and unlike anything you've seen on film before. There's a lot of slow-motion, Hong Kong-inspired gunplay; a lot of loud, bone-crunching, almost masochistic fistfights; and one or two clever one-liners.

It is redundant to mention that if the Wachowski Brothers had spent one quarter of the five years they spent developing this film on a script to back it up, they might really have had something here. It is rumored that the brothers plan to make this film part of a trilogy, and I have no doubt that we'll be seeing Neo and his hacker-buddies again. The trilogy concept, of course, reminds us that every young sci-fi writer wants to start the next "Star Wars" saga. Films like "The Matrix", though, are self-defeating because they present a loud, gritty world which seems to have forgotten why it is fighting for survival in the first place. These writers should remember that the subtitle of "Star Wars" was "A New Hope", and its ending was one of excitement for the future. As it stands right now, "The Matrix" is fun to watch, but the future it depicts hardly seems worth fighting for.

What did you think?

Movie title The Matrix
Release year 1999
MPAA Rating R
Our rating
Summary Keanu Reeves plays Neo. This is usually the point where I would mention something about his character, but really what's the point?
View all articles by Joe Lozito
More in Movies
Big News
Newsletter Sign-up
Connect with Us