Back in 1999 when The Matrix first popped into theaters, and into most people’s hearts, I was 10 and not a huge fan of movies just yet. All I remember of it was watching the trailer and thinking “that bullet time scene” looks good. So many years down the line I finally watch the film on TV. To be completely honest, I was not a fan of the green tint on the whole film. I was willing to excuse that however as and when the first scene with Trinity fighting the agents began. It was a thrilling scene in all its pleather clad glory. The moment she jumps from a rooftop to the next rooftop which looked like it was as far as a football field, I felt like my mind was opening up to something new. Incidentally that feeling was the same one that Morpheus wanted Neo to feel.
The whole opening sequence goes down and I know I am going to like this film a whole bunch. The movie then goes into story/character intro mode and takes its time with it. I had never seen religious allegory/symbolism before, so I never understood how ham-fisted all of it was. All that aside however, the fun set pieces just kept on coming. The movie was a veritable goodie-bag for action-film lovers. I was enthralled by the harrowing (almost) escape with Morpheus commanding Neo over the phone, the mouth glued together scene, the bug pulled out of Keanu’s belly button, the training sequence, Keanu’s whoa, the fact that rules of anything can be bent in The Matrix and so much more.
I had not seen Ghost In The Shell by that time in my life and I never knew all the moments in the film that were homages to the incredible Japanese anime. I was just too busy picking my jaw off the floor. I knew action films would never be the same after this. It was similar to how Die Hard or Mad Max: The Road Warrior changed the landscape of action films for years to come. This film was a game changer. The primary arc of Neo got me thinking as well. It was the simplest of character arcs and it was achieved in the least ham-handed way possible. It rode on only one statement “Know Thyself”. It was such a fantastic way to get the audience connected to the story. I do concede that Neo is a blank slate who has no discernible character traits what so ever.
The bullet time bend happens and the movie goes along with being awesome some more. Neo and Trinity run up on walls and have a balls-out fun to watch gun fight. One of the reasons the film works so well is because of its supporting cast and one of the most menacing bad guys ever in Agent Smith. Hugo Weaving and Laurence Fishburne chew up ever single scene they are in. In all honesty, ever single actor in the film is selling the concept so hard. They are all fully committed to the illusion and invite the audience in with them.
A whole bunch of action happens and Neo finally understands that he is The One. She starts to fight the agents like they are nearly non-existent. The stops bullets and my brain was almost dripping out of my ear unable to take such awesomeness. Neo finally jumps into Agent Smith and CGIs him to death. Again, I concede that the shot looks very hokey. So the bad guy has been defeated and Keanu Reeves has made another awesome action movie again. All the goodwill he earned after Speed was back.
Then it came.
Neo was back talking, but this time it was to The Matrix itself. He warns the ones in control of The Matrix that he was about the show everyone a world with no fears, barriers, boundaries or limits. I was pretty impressed with the speech as it was going on. It was pretty riveting. Neo hangs the phone up. The shot slows down just a tad. Rage Against The Machine’s Wake Up starts playing in the background. I’m super excited already. I’m sitting there thinking I am in for a super original end credits roll. The film had one last surprise in-store for me. Neo looks around at all the random people walking around. He puts his shades on. He looks straight down at the audience. Here I was expecting the credits to roll again.
Neo smiles at the audience. My anticipation builds. He looks up at the sky. My brain started to fire away. I thought to myself “No way. He is really not going to…”. I saw the shot zoom away from him. It changed to an aerial shot of the city. The music was hitting its stride. A fraction of a second later, the sound of an aircraft taking flight came up. My eyes widened. Neo was flying. He shot off the ground and flew right past the camera looking as cool as one ever can. I had a beaming smile on my face. I could not believe what I had just seen and that’s saying something after I had watched The Matrix for the first time. Neo had actually broken the ultimate rule. I knew I had seen one the most special moments ever captured on film. Even to this day when I rewatch that moment, I can never stop the film as soon he flies away. I need a few seconds for the sheer awesoness to sink in. I cheered my lungs out, when I watched the film for the first time, when the credits of The Wachowski Brothers came up. My cheering was so loud that the people in my home were scared and had to come in and see what was wrong.
Nothing was wrong, as we all know. Everything was perfect. Even if it was for that one split second. It was perfection. That moment is what films strive for all the time. The indelible image that echoes through time. The Matrix is one of the rare films which actually managed to achieve it.
Click the play button to enter Neo’s world!!