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The groundbreaking 1999 science fiction film directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski.

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On your own head be it?

  • Jun 16, 2003
  • by
Rating:
+5
I re-watched the Matrix the other night, having just watched its outstanding sequel, Reloaded. The greater emphasis on philosophical themes in Reloaded casts new light on their more tangential (and thus confusing) treatment in the original film. For a kung-fu movie, the Matrix tackles some big issues, and while I'm not altogether sure it's completely coherent about them, I think writing it all off as having been plundered from lecture notes in Philosophy 101 isn't justified either (the same people who tend to do that also tend not to have actually taken Philosophy 101).

The Problem of Free Will gets a good outing: are we free to do was we please, or does the chemical nature of the brain, and the fundamental laws of cause and effect, mean that we are not? And in the matrix itself all is not quite what you might expect: Both Neo's in-Matrix boss and Agent Smith offer Neo specific (if perhaps Hobson's) choices: turn up at work on time, or find another job; help track down Morpheus, or suffer the consequences; in any event on your own head be it. Contrast that with Morpheus' first instruction to Neo: "Do exactly as I tell you": Not what you'd expect from the arch-libertarian. The notion of choice, and the value of choice, thereafter reverberates through the film.

This of course implies the question of Mind: do chemical and electrical reactions in the brain fully explain consciousness? Is human consciousness simply the product of a glorified organic computer? And if that's the case, what is the difference between the digital consciousness presented by the Matrix, and the "actual" consciousness our own brain gives us? Is there a difference? Segue to Descartes' "Cogito Ergo Sum", an analysis explicitly referred to in Reloaded.

All this isn't to say that the Wachowski brothers are necessarily coherent in their philosophy or that they're doing anything other than name-checking famous dead people, (as yet, I'm not sure what point they're making with all this learning) but it does catapult the Matrix beyond the realms of your common sci-fi/action movie, and leaves you pondering all the iterations into the night. Some folk don't want that sort of thing in a kung fu movie, but for me it justifies the price of admission. And then to see Carrie-Ann Moss kicking butt in skin tight patent leather on top of that ... well, it don't get any better than that.

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WARNING: This review contains spoilers! DO NOT READ THIS UNTIL YOU'VE SEEN THE FILM!       Every once in a great while a film comes along that changes everything and revolutionizes the way films are made. It happened with Fritz Lang's Metropolis, Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, Steven Spielberg's Jaws, and George Lucas' Star Wars... now we are given Andy and Larry Wachowski's The Matrix. The Matrix not only has a cool, cyberpunk, hyper stylized look and …
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Quick Tip by . July 26, 2010
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If only for the innovative filming techniques, this movie is a must see. It is unfortunate that the story could not carry the momentum through parts II and III. The philosophy in the movie is interesting and its treatment of the future we may make for ourselves is worth a pause.
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review by . December 01, 2009
When Thomas A Anderson, aka Neo (Keanue Reeves), ends up on the run from the police, and in the same room as legendary fugitive Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), he must choose if he wants to discover the truth of the Matrix. He is given two options: 1) take the blue pill and "believe whatever you want to believe," or 2) take the red pill where "you stay in wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hold goes."      The Matrix is a futuristic action movie …
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Splinter in his mind  Kung fu, big guns, and leather  Can he be the one?
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Olly Buxton ()
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Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving, Carrie-Anne Moss
Directed by Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
Writer:  Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
1999

Product Description
Set in the 22nd century, The Matrix tells of a computer hacker (Reeves) who joins a group of underground insurgents fighting the vast and powerful computers who now rule the earth. The computers are powered by human beings...

By following up their debut thrillerBoundwith the 1999 box-office smashThe Matrix, the codirecting Wachowski brothers--Andy and Larry--annihilated any suggestion of a sophomore jinx, crafting one of the most exhilarating sci-fi/action movies of the 1990s. Set in the not too distant future in an insipid, characterless city, we find a young man named Neo (Keanu Reeves). A software techie by day and a computer hacker by night, he sits alone at home by his monitor, waiting for a sign, a signal--from what or whom he doesn't know--until one night, a mysterious woman named Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) seeks him out and introduces him to that faceless character he has been waiting for: Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne). A messiah of sorts, Morpheus presents Neo with the truth about his world by shedding light on the dark secrets that have troubled him for so long: "You've felt it your entire life, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad." Ultimately, Morpheus...
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Details

Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Release Date: March 31, 1999
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
DVD Release Date: November 14, 2000
Runtime: 2hrs 16min
Studio: Silver Pictures, Warner Bros Pictures
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