Cyberpunk Review » Matrix

February 26, 2006


Year: 1999

Directed by: Andy & Larry Wachowski

Written by: Andy & Larry Wachowski

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Very High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High

Key Cast Members:

  • Neo: Keanu Reeves
  • Trinity: Carrie-Anne Moss
  • Morpheus: Laurence Fishburne
  • Agent Smith: Hugo Weaving
  • Rating: 10 out of 10


    Definitely my favorite opening sequence of all time. Just a great great start to a movie!


    Overview: The Matrix is one of my all-time favorite movies, so I’m just not going to attempt to come off as unbiased about it. Additionally, I’m guessing that pretty much everyone who’s coming to this site has seen it - probably numerous times, so I’m guessing a plot description isn’t of much value here. In short, my conundrum with the review is this - what should I say about this movie that will in any way add value to the reader? Answer: Not much. Instead I have decided to keep the bulk of my comments for various essays on the Matrix Trilogy.




    Matrix Influences: The Matrix influenced movies in general and society as a whole. With respect to movies, we see numerous influences, including:

    • Special Effects: Bullet time and a myriad of other FX are now standard practice in movies and commercials
    • Synonymous with “Cool”: Movies that have a “matrix-like” feel are advertised all the time. We know what this means - it means they aspire to be ultra-sleek, ultra-cool and the “in” thing.
    • Fight Sequences: By hiring Hong Kong Martial Arts master Yuen Wo-Ping to coordinate the fights, the Matrix raised the bar on mainstream American movie fight sequences
    • Matrix Source Code: The Matrix source code, taken in part from Ghost in the Shell, is everywhere now, and is instantly recognized, as is its meaning
    • Hot Chicks in Black Shiny Stuff Kicking Butt: Trinity’s influence has massively upped the anty on action chicks in movies. While Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman in Batman Returns re-initiated this trend, Carrie Anne Moss’ Trinity has made this outfit almost mandatory for female action heroines.
    • The use of philosophy in movies: The Matrix seems to have broken the barrier to discussing philosphy in movies. Lets hope this idea lives on.
    • Fashion: From Sunglasses, to overcoats to cyberpunkwear, the Matrix has changed the way people dress.



      The Bottom Line: The Matrix is already one of the most influential in science fiction, and is truly one of the cornerstone cyberpunk movies in existence. We get it all here: terrific action, awesome cyberpunk concepts, incredible cyberpunk visuals, cool philosophical discussions, an absolutely awesome soundtrack (although DoomAng3l disagrees with this - see his comment below) and innovative FX. On top of this, all the leads were terrific. Reeves makes a perfect Neo, and Moss, Fishburne and Weaving give career-defining performances. Look below for move screencaps on page 2, and additional essays on the Matrix.




      Matrix Essays

      • The Matrix Trilogy: A Man-Machine Interface Perspective: This essay explores the Matrix Trilogy specifically from a scifi perspective - the purpose of which is to show how Neo’s journey is really a sequel to Motoko’s transformation at the end of Ghost in the Shell. Developed throughout the trilogy, Neo becomes a fully merged entity comprised of a sentient program with a human.


      Page 2: More Screencaps–>>

    ~See movies similar to this one~

    This post has been filed under Dystopic Future Movies, Hot Cyberchicks Kicking Butt, Awesome Cyberpunk Themes, Memory Modification, Man-machine Interface, 10 Star Movies, Hacker Movies, VR Movies, Awesome Cyberpunk Visuals, Cyberpunk movies from 1990 - 1999 by SFAM.


    February 27, 2006

    DoomAng3l said:

    Hi SFAM, nice to see you finally got this up ….

    I was very surprised that you gave this a 10 though… as far as the film goes, it was amazing yet there was definately room for improvement on the sound track.

    Keep it up, and I look forward to your next review!


    SFAM said:

    OMG, DoomAng3l, I couldn’t disagree more! I actually should have mentioned - I LOVE the sound track…like, LUUUUUV the sound track! IMHO, the music selections absolutely fit this movie like a glove!

    DoomAng3l said:

    I am a huuuuge metal fan, but there was definately some room for chemlab and VAC on that soundtrack… the Rob D and Lunatic Calm I could have done without., oh, and the Hive too.

    But its all a matter of taste, no ?

    Besides, its not the Sound or FX that make the Matrix that outstanding, its the Story that slays! The FX would have cropped up in another movie somewhere along the line….

    SFAM said:

    The music choices are definitely a matter of taste - I just thought they fit very well in the movie. Then again, as I say, I fully admit to being biased where the Matrix (and its sequels for that matter) is concerned. And yeah, the story is awesome, but so is everything else. The FX REALLY enhance the story. I still remember how freaked out I was the first time I saw Neo losing his face. This movie really does “bring you down the rabbit hole” in a wonderfully executed way.

    February 28, 2006

    Neuromancer said:

    Hmmm, never heard about this one.
    Is it any good?

    SFAM said:

    Ha! Yeah, you should give it a try - you might like it. :)

    March 1, 2006

    amberlita said:

    Hard not to atleast like if not love this one, no matter what film genre you normally dig watching.

    SFAM said:

    Oh believe me - there are plenty of people who hate the Matrix. They’ve just been overshadowed by even more who hate the sequels! Then there’s losers like me who love all three :)

    March 18, 2006

    Metatron said:

    Nothing bad in being a fan of all three films- in fact the more I watch them, the more convinced I become that it’s almost impossible not to view the Matrix as one, complete achievement… and an unparalleled one at that

    March 20, 2006

    DannyV_El_Acme said:

    The only real problems I have with the Matrix sequels is the “Top that!” syndrome and the sometimes hard to follow techno-psychobabble. I call Top That! syndrome to movie makers’ tendency to let the plot suffer in sequels in favor of going all out in trying to wow you with effects and “cool” scenes(like the Neo/A Bazillion Smith fight in the second one and the Robot/Zion battle in the third). As for the babble thing, it’s not that bad, but the Architect scene in the second one really turns off a lot of people who aren’t prepared or have the background to understand it. Fact is that the first movie is the most coherent and well done of the three, IMHO. Not taking anything away from the other two, but I think the Wachowskis just had a more clear idea of what they wanted to do in the first one. But anyway, they’re WAY better movies in plot and coolness than the Star Wars prequels, ugh… Darth Vader went from baddest muthafucka in the galaxy to a winy, crying pussy. My life is a lie…

    However, as many other great movies and series, one gets more enjoyment of the Matrix movies as one explores them more and independently studies them. For example, SFAM’s article on the man-machine interface in the movies gave me a new, fresh perspective of the series that actually raised my enjoyment of the movies inmensely. Go to Wikipedia for some nice nfo on many movies this way, too.

    ETM said:

    I am a huge Matrix fan, but, even though the sequels are fun, their appeal diminishes with time, while the relevance and quality of the first film keeps growing. I’ve seen it too many times to count, and I still can’t get enough of it. Just an amazing film on it’s own.

    March 24, 2006

    MAX said:

    To ETM:

    The first movie rocks, but I find that the trilogy as a whole has an opposite effect on me in the sense that the first movie bcomes increasingly simplistic and cliché with time. By contrast, the sequels have so much depth and breadth to them (both conceptually and thematically, and not just the visual ‘Top That!’ factor that Danny is instigating) that subsequent viewings and an appreciation of the wider contextual depth leads one to realise that the first movie - whilst wonderfully entertaining in a ‘good vs. evil’ adventure way and making a few cool philosophical references - pales in comparison to the thematic exploration offered by The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.

    SFAM said:

    Hi Max (Max314 by any chance??), welcome to cyberpunkreview :)

    I still totally appreciate the first film, but like you, truly enjoy the rich depth and breadth of the sequels. This is truly a rare occurance in film - one that I cherish.

    April 12, 2006

    groovykid said:

    nice list , i just wanted to add to the 10 stars movie :

    “the animatrix”

    “mind game”

    an anime with a Low Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes but the title say it all !

    If you like the animatrix , you really have to see it !

    other anime movies you should consider (9 stars for me) :

    - Manie Manie - Neo Tokyo
    - Robot Carnival

    Best Regards

    April 13, 2006

    SFAM said:

    Hi Groovykid, I responded to you in the meatspace, but also wanted to welcome you to cyberpunk review here - welcome :)

    I hope to see you around here more and will give these movies a go. Thanks for the suggestions!

    April 16, 2006

    Anonymous said:

    hey, has anyone read Simulacra and Simulation? Supposedly the Matrix is somewhat based on/influenced by it

    April 17, 2006

    SFAM said:

    We actually have a discussion where this was discussed in the meatspace. The Matrix was certainly influenced by Baudrillard, but definitely not based on it.

    April 20, 2006

    MAX said:

    Yeah, SF, it’s ol’ 314 here :D

    Yeah, I still love the first movie. I has its own perfect place in the trilogy; right at the beginning.

    It’s an awesome start, and creates a great illusion. It gets you to invest in the ‘evilness’ of the machines, the humanity of the Oracle and the truth of the Prophecy…only to make you doubt everything ALL OVER AGAIN in Reloaded and then process, revise and rebuild our conceptions of the universe in Revolutions.

    Very cool, methinks :D


    On Baudrillard:

    The Matrix draws inspiration and influence from so many different sources that pinpointing just one is not really going to yield you any satisfying results. The great thing is that the Wachowskis never take credit for what isn’t theirs, and have actually expressed an underlying frustration at people thinking that their work is totally new. It’s not new. It’s just a collection of stuff that most mainstream-indulgent citizens have chosen to ignore until the Brothers brought it all together for the ultimate franchise of the new millennium.

    April 21, 2006

    SFAM said:

    Excellent point Max314 (Welcome buddy!). I’ve run into people that seem bugged that the Wachowski brothers are somehow stealing credit for things others have done (Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell, for instance), which is interesting considering they rarely if ever give interviews.

    April 22, 2006

    MAX said:

    Unlike Tarantino, the Wachowskis make no falsifications about their inspirations. The fact that Baudrillard’s Simulacra & Simulation appears in the movie, the fact that the score piece playing over the freeway scene in Reloaded - ‘Mona Lisa Overdrive’ - is named after the sequel to William Gibson’s ‘Neuromancer’, the fact that the Brothers stated in their appearance in The Matrix Revisited their love for Philip K. Dick’s work and have stated that they love works like Blade Runner on release (remember that the general reception to Scott’s now-renowned masterwork was overly negative and undewhelmed at the time in the wake of much anticipation of a preconceived idea of a typical action-adventure movie…not unlike Reloaded and Revolutions), and the fact that they are such open and genuine guys who - in their last interview - refused to acknowledge that their work had greatly impacted cinema and that their work was visionary, indicates to me that the Wachowski Brothers have no time for pretentiousness.

    They are geniune artists.


    “We just really want to see how the idea of an intellectual action movie is received by the world. Because if audiences are sort of interested in movies that are made like McDonald’s hamburgers, which do have a value in the world, then we have to re-evaluate our entire career.”
    ~ The Wachowski Brothers ~


    August 9, 2006

    réveillé said:

    definitely one of the greatest stories of all time. especially the philosophical aspect of it. i read one of your essays a while back (looking at the matrix from a sci-fi POV; something like that) and it explained a lot that i didn’t know and led me to look at the movie differently. do you have any other essays on it?

    réveillé said:

    the essay was “Matrix Trilogy: A man-Machine Interface perspective”.

    August 10, 2006

    SFAM said:

    Hi réveillé, thanks for the kind words about my essay. I have that essay linked above at the bottom of my Matrix review.

    December 2, 2006

    patryk said:


    December 3, 2006

    ETM said:

    @MAX: While I see and understand your point, I must reaffirm the crucial point where our opinions differ: I believe there is no question that the first film works the best AS A FILM out of the three, by far (and I can’t emphasize that difference enough here, they’re like worlds apart). While the sequels may be more complex thematically, the ultimate failure by the authors was their inability to incorporate those themes and ideas into a semi-coherent film narrative that would not frustrate all viewers save for the biggest fans, like yourself and SFAM, who find pleasure in dissecting their phylosophical tissue, not unlike treasure hunters of old.

    While most simply won’t acknowledge their failure in recognizing the ideas woven into the fabric of the Matrix sequels, and choose to dismiss their merit completely, I belong to that rare group that stands somewhere in the middle: while agreeing with your standpoint on the issue, I also can’t “forgive” the sequels for not being enjoyable cinematic experiences on the level of the first film, while at the same time failing to entice the intellect not only of the casual, but also of most of “intellectual” movie audiences everywhere.

    …and - there’s my own “Architect Speech”.


    March 13, 2007

    Crystal said:

    i loved the matrix i thought it was a awesome movie. i have saw all of the matrix movies and once i start watching them i cant stop its just a really good movie over all.

    March 29, 2007

    David said:

    I never actually liked the Matrix when it was out. I remember the world was coming to an end in 1999, and there was all sorts of things that were meant to go off before the new millenium… it was a strange feeling- like everything was rushing around. This movie seemed to be the thing to go see between late summer- autumn time. I myself never seen it at the cinema though…

    The Matrix is the creation of the Wakowski bros. who ripped off certain anime to a degree. The most noticeable rip off is Ghost In The Shell. The other is the helicopter/building scene from Golgo 13 The Proffessional (sp?!), and Akira in places. After The Matrix, it would become evident that Hollywood and America in general would err ‘borrow’ from popular anime- Van Helsing was a direct rip off of Vampire Hunter D (only they changed the hero’s transformation to werewolf, and not vampire so fans wouldn’t make the distinction)… William Gibson’s Idoru ripped off the virtual Idol Sharron Apple from Macross Plus, and there’s been a few others since 2000.

    It doesn’t necessarily affect you though if you infact haven’t seen, or like for that matter, anime itself.

    CUT TO: September 2000- There are now girls n boys in school dressing up like neo and walking around toatlly gothed. CUE: A girl dressed in velcro wearing black shades passes by me in the school corridor and I hear her mutter to her equally neo-gothic friend- ‘it’s because I’m spiritually superior.’

    CUT TO: October 2003- and there are now 20-25 year old males dressed up like neo walking around the city. Shades and all…

    The 360 degree scene has been used by dozens of films since… it’s not so bad if it’s used intentionally as a parody ode to the Matrix, but not in some film by some director who wants us to think- ‘doesn’t that look kewl!’

    Now I really do hate this movie.

    April 3, 2007

    James NIGDEF said:

    You’re not alone David, I hate this movie too!

    I don’t think it’s as smart as some people think it is, and I think the sequels are proof enough that the filmmakers had no idea where that story was going. A good example of that are the scenes with the Oracle, they are just frustrating and pointless under the pretense of philosophical interrogation. BS.

    April 4, 2007

    Altfuture said:

    Lots of good points.

    A cyberpunk movie without philosophical interrogation is not Cyberpunk.

    Saying that, i went and saw this movie 5 times in the cinema (not just me, i got other people to go see it too).

    The first movie was fantastic. It broke rules, broke stereotypes, broke my mind.

    The Second, well i fell asleep,
    The Third, never seen it.

    So i plugged into the net and data checked why i felt so bad about the movie number two and three, read a lot about stealing stories and the matrix was just a jigsaw of anime. So i dropped out.

    The movie is great, always will be, its just one machine that leads you to other machines, but just me happy with one orgasm, two and three are hardly ever reached.



    SFAM said:

    Hi David, James and Altfuture, clearly not everyone likes the Matrix movie and even less the sequels. This is fine, but just as I clearly disagree with you all on this. Just a note on the rip-off comment - I find that people who don’t like something often claim a movie “ripped off” something whereas people who like the movie say it was “influenced” by something. There are many shoddy attempts at film making that do rip off ideas and put them together in a haphazard way (Michael Bay’s The Island, for instance), but I think it’s a tough sell to say the Matrix fits into this. To me, the Matrix was very influenced by Ghost in the Shell, but is clearly a different movie. Nor did the Wachoskis ever deny this - in fact they did the opposite - they publicized Ghost in the Shell as much as possible, which led to significant exposure to GITS in the west.

    Again, its absolutely cool to hate the Matrix or its sequels, but to say there was nothing original probably isn’t all that defensible. But we do have this fun “The Matrix Sequels Suck!/No, They’re Great-You Don’t Get It! thread in the meatspace. Feel free to vent there. I’m hoping to every now and then get some lively discussion on the topic. I think this is a better place to discuss the relative greatness or suckage of the trilogy. Discussing the relative suckage or greatness of the first movie is a fine thing to discuss here. :)

    David said:

    Well at the time it was just this action movie with Keanu Reeves and a few dicks in black velcro. When the second and third came out (the Reloaded in particular), everybody was talking about it, and it was everyhwere you went from May-August 2003. First one I didn’t see at the cinema, Reloaded I did- there were like 30 goths coming in to watch it, loud mouth geekazoids (it’s upto them if they wanna be pseudo-vampires, but i just personally find goths frickin annoying and in your face). I guess because everyone was saying it was the movie of the year, that I had to say it wasn’t. It’s like seeling Franchise 100% of the way- you can’t watch the other two parts without seeing the first, can’t watch the third without the second, etc… you can watch T2 and not watch Terminator1 to understand the story. Thing is when T3 cameout the same year, you knew it would be poor before you seen it.

    SFAM said:

    Hmm, yeah, I don’t put the Matrix sequels in the same bucket as T3 - nowhere close to that in fact. I also don’t blame the Matrix Trilogy for Goth-vamps, nor do I mind that Goths think the Trilogy is Kewl, even if they don’t care to understand a thing about it. That you do is fine with me, but again, these comments are probably more related to the trilogy, not to first movie, which is what this post is about. Feel free to post in the thread I reference above.

    June 4, 2007

    randomrob said:

    I thought the Matrix satisfied my big 3:

    Used special effects sparingly, yet cleverly
    Created a tangible world, and a disturbing parallel to our own
    Characters that illustrate aspects of humanist themes

    the sequels undid these 3 disastrously well- I was bitter and exhausted by the end of 3, whereas I left the theater full of excitement after seeing 1.

    Like Warren Beatty said in ‘Bulworth’:
    “it must be the money.. turns everything to crap!”

    August 28, 2007

    Mira Firefly said:

    To be frank, it was clear to me that the soundtrack in the first Matrix could have been oodles better if only they had been willing to abandon the mainstream and semi-mainstream artists, and go for some truly dark electronix. Lustmord, Nurse With Wound, Ministry, KMFDM and so on all would have fit the movie much, MUCH better than crap like Rob Zombie did.

    Then again, I’m an audiophile, and therefore prone to musical elitism. If you actually LIKE Rob Zombie, more power to ya.

    November 5, 2007

    gw said:

    The first “Matrix” movie will always remain a classic. It’s a rare instance where ambitious SF, good entertainment and the signs o’ the times work together to create an eye-opener for the general public. (The sequels are, if not judged by that high standard, not so bad after all ;-)
    Other favorites of mine include Mamori Oshii’s “Ghost in the Shell” movies, which are a great deal more realistic and more radical, but due to bad translation and “explicit” content never made it into the mainstream. The best SF is always subversive, from “Clockwork Orange” to “1984″ to even the “Terminator”-or-how-I-tamed-myself-a-cyborg movies.
    I can do without the sort of writing William Gibson produces, though - I’ve read a some of his books, but in the end it’s style over content just like with teenage Neo-clones. Dan Simmons’ “Hyperion” has more relevant things to say on the subject. I’ve never read Asimov’s stuff, it’s simply too well-behaved, naive and boring.
    Always keep an open mind and don’t stick to labels such as “Cyberpunk” …

    March 24, 2008

    i.mifetao amadou said:

    like matrix and is good films

    August 20, 2008

    synthetic_creature said:

    ultimate movie of all time

    December 8, 2008

    Aphex said:

    I do prefer GITS, personally (but I’m a Japanophile/anime junkie, so I don’t really count…) but like Oshii himself said when asked what he thought of the Wachowski brothers “ripping him off” -

    “I don’t mind, because it is better [than Ghost in the Shell]”

    So if even the guy the Wachowski Brothers supposedly pilfered from thinks The Matrix is genius, I’m sure everyone else can too. ;)

    Oh, and I like the ’shooting the melon’ bit, as a direct reference to GITS. I actually laughed out loud in the cinema when that happened, and got some very odd looks.

    me said:

    i”ve personally found that the only kind of people that don’t like the matrix are the fools that don’t like thinking for themselves and prefer hollywood spoonfeeding them the same homogenized predictable, uncreative, unoriginal, mindnumbing ,unstimulating crap, kinda like the 90s grunge music scene, a few rare gems and the rest were just trying to be the next “cobain”,when the whole basis of what cobain beleived revolved around being yourself hence diffrent, not a copycat, i honestly thought popularity contest ended after highschool oh ,also i’m currently looking for a copy of george orwell’s 1984 and its almost impossible to find as its currently out of print so ANY help would be greatly appreciated

    January 17, 2009

    Ivan Neto Portillo said:

    The time is here… Wake up. ;)

    June 1, 2009

    Anonymous said:

    Yesterday, I watched Matrix again and the scene with the child and the spoon reminded me somehow on the picture
    by the artist René Margritte. Especcially because Margritte explained about the meaning his picture that there is absolutely no pipe on the picture. It’s only a picture of a pipe.

    December 23, 2009

    MMA said:

    Timeless classic. The Matrix is one of the few movies I could never get tired of watching.

    December 24, 2009

    Matt said:

    In the first matrix, after Neo has chosen to take the red pill, he is led to a chair near a mirror. While the camera is focused on Neo and the mirror, we can see in the scene an acoustic coupler modem of sorts. Does anyone have a screencap of that? It’s been bugging me for a while, but not enough to rent the film.

    December 13, 2010

    Anonymous said:

    What I find interesting, in the old 1980s Anime Megazone 23 Part 2, when the VR City on that Spaceship gets destroyed by the machines, they send giant flying octopus like machines which consist of a red glowing “eye” on a round body and lots of mechanical tentacles. They look quite similar to these harvesting machines from the matrix (except that they have only one eye instead of many.) Could these octopus machines from MZ 23 be the source of these machines in the Matrix?

    I also think in both film series, these machines also get a very similar purpose. In MZ 23, they are used to destroy one of the last remaining cities of humanity and in the Matrix series, later, these machines are used to attack Zion, the last city of humanity.

    February 17, 2011

    Anonymous said:

    i cant stand people who hate the matrix. this is the quintessential centerpiece of the entire cyberpunk genre. i dont care how popculture or successful it was, or all those other reasons people want to dislike it. they are fools.

    March 5, 2011

    Dementia said:

    As far as it goes for me the first Matrix movie was genious - it put on screen so many extraordinary and absolutely innovative ideas that up to that time haven’t been even thought of. The second one had great fight scenes that are remarkable even in nowadays. The third one, alas, was mediocer - just more form the same which we already saw. The Matriz is no doubt a memorable cyberpunk movie, but as far as goes for me, I’d consider TRULY cyberpunk the first one.

    October 3, 2011

    King Mob said:

    I dig the first Matrix, I really do: it’s well shot and has a nice flow but I wouldn’t exactly say it’s ideologically innovative. It’s ultimately a mixtape film featuring hits from The Invisibles, Ghost in the shell, and Neuromancer amongst others.

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