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The Matrix

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: The Matrix

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne
Director: Andy Wachowski
Rated: R
RunTime: 136 Minutes
Release Date: March 1999
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Martial Arts, Cult


*Also starring: Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Hugo Weaving, Julian Arahanga, Belinda Mcclory, Marcus Chong, Belinda Mcclory, Larry Wachowski



Review by Greg King
2 stars out of 4

Great special effects, shame about the story!

The Matrix boasts some of the most impressive and complex computer generated special effects sequences of any movie. However, the barrage of effects and visual imagination cannot distract from the fundamental lack of a clear narrative - even a week later I was still scratching my head trying to puzzle it out. At first I thought it was because I saw The Matrix at 10.00 am on a Saturday morning, and I was still slightly hung-over from the night before. Then I realised that my sore head was not the problem - it is the film itself that has some serious problems.

Film making siblings Andy and Larry Wachowski have an idiosyncratic style that was used to great effect in the gritty, tough independent thriller Bound. However, working with a large budget and the latest in computer generated technology seems to have overwhelmed them a little. Filmed at the new Fox studio complex in Sydney, The Matrix is a film of style and great ambition, but very little substance. All the money seems to have been lavished on the visual effects, with little thought given to the actual plot that holds it together. It pales when compared to the recent Dark City, another big budget, special effects driven sci-fi thriller shot in Sydney using Hollywood know-how, money and stars.

The Matrix is set in a not too distant future, where the world is seemingly controlled by computers. Morpheus (played in grim and humourless fashion by Laurence Fishburne) is the head of an army battling to save the world from the domination of the computers. They can transport themselves between their bleak future world and our present through a series of special telephones located throughout the city. Their nemesis are sinister men in black suits, led by the enigmatic Mr Smith (Hugo Weaving, complete with glaringly phoney American accent). These characters are able to assume other identities and are seemingly invincible. Weaving seems to be enjoying himself immensely here, and his performance at least seems to capture the spirit of the film.

Keanu Reeves returns to action hero mode as Neo, a computer hacker reluctantly drawn into this battle for the future of the world. Reeve's sudden transformation from computer nerd into Schwarzenegger-like action hero is not credible for an instant, and this mish-mash unfortunately recalls his disastrous Johnny Mnemonic.

The Matrix ultimately seems jigged together using elements from a number of other sci-fi thrillers, and if you take the time you could probably identify all of the influences. The very busy plot throws together martial arts, slow motion shoot-outs, teleportation, nasty alien creatures, sinister men in black, people leaping between city skyscrapers, and frantic chases through the streets of some dark, sinister city. Ultimately, the disappointing lack of any intelligible plot or genuine emotions will prove too alienating for audiences.

"No-one can tell you what the matrix is," declares the tag line for the film. I somehow suspect that includes even the writers, directors and most of the crew.

Copyright 2000 Greg King

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