by Bret W.
This film has a lot of elements that make it a very exciting action movie, but it’s much more than an action movie. It’s cereberal, calling into question the reality of our world. It’s a sci-fi look at the proverbial question, “Why are we here?” and the answer is “There is no spoon.”
Thomas Anderson is a man who leads a secret life. Online he is known as Neo. But he is looking for the answer to a question himself, and that question is “What is the Matrix?” A man he meets online named Morpheus has the answer, but just being in contact with Morpheus brings Anderson’s presence to the attention of the Agents, a secret police faction. The agents move to apprehend Anderson and to scare him off Morpheus’ trail. Instead, Morpheus brings Neo to him and shows him the truth of the Matrix: that the Matrix is an enormous power plant that uses human beings to generate electricity, and that the world Neo knows is only a computer generated simulation made to keep his mind active so that he can supply the world’s intelligent computers with power.
At first, Neo has a hard time accepting the reality of the Matrix, as anyone would. But Morpheus tells him the reason he has been approached: Morpheus believes that Neo is The One who, it has been prophesied will destroy the Matrix and free the Human race. Action abounds in this intelligent film. The sharp use of contrasting colors makes it visually stunning as well. The colors are all drab, black and grey and brown, with occasional sharp stabs of red. While not a new concept in film, it certainly lends a lot to the overall theme of the film, a lot like the way it did in American Beauty.
The plot and premise of the film is also not a new one, but never before has it been carried off in such an effective manner. The image of human babies being harvested like crops (in fact, Agent Smith refers to the loss of an entire “crop” of humans when the simulation was made too perfect) is a haunting one, and Neo’s awakening is a vision one will certainly not shake off soon. More than that, this film prompts the audience to ask the same questions: what is real and what is not? Is this world around me simply a construct of a higher intelligence, or is it the true reality? While the film answers few questions, it raises more than it answers, and leaves the audience with nagging doubts about their own existence.
Not for the weak of heart, The Matrix is still one of the finest action movies made in recent history, and certainly the most intelligent. It’s much more than a bang-bang shoot-em-up film, it’s a deeply philosophic journey and a superb test of the mind. And, oh, yes, it’s a terrific action film as well.