Nicolò Grasso’s review published on Letterboxd:
Original Title: The Matrix
Year of Release: 1999
Genres: Sci-Fi Action
Directors: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
Writer: Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski
Main Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano, Gloria Foster, Marcus Chong, Paul Goddard, Robert Taylor
It's been at least 12 years since I last saw The Matrix, and I have no good excuse for not having rewatched it sooner. I actually remembered most of it relatively well, with the interrogation of Neo being a moment that scarred me when I was younger.
Of all the great things that the film does so well, my favorite probably has to be the script. Every rule is well set out, every character well developed, every dialogue relevant, and every action scene important. There is very little fat here, and the focus on building up Neo's growth as a person, accepting that he is the One by believing in himself, it's as simple as it is satisfying.
The cinematography is incredible, from its clear sense of space and geography during the delightful fight scenes, to terrific use of reflections. The color palette is also nothing short of incredible, with green being prevalent inside the Matrix and blue in the real world. While this is praised for its innovative special effects (which have aged really gratefully, including the disturbing moments when the Agents take over people's bodies), the amount of practical effects and stunts is outstanding, my favorite being the bullet casings and dust and particles flying everywhere.
Something I noticed in the cast is how important everyone's eyes are: it doesn't matter how good the line delivery is, the eyes of these actors don't lie. Reeves is excellent as Mr. Anderson/Neo, a man who discovers that everything around him is a lie, and is bewildered and confused looks worked great in context. Moss also does a great job at playing a mysterious and elusive figure, with Weaving playing the main baddie of the picture and having a lot of fun with his role. However, my MVP has to be Fishburne: cool, suave, and immensely committed to his role, with his interrogation scene being truly edge-of-your-seat intense thanks to his performance.
As someone who is studying philosophy, there is plenty of food for thought here. The talks about free will, predestination, and identity are quite prevalent, including on a visual level (see the aforementioned reflections). It also helps that the film sets up all those themes that reach full closure in the climax, which has to be one of the best third acts of any film ever: the tension, the momentum, the excitement, the spectacle, and the sheer fun I had were tremendous.
Overall, I am oh so glad that I decided to revisit The Matrix. It's a masterfully directed, brilliantly shot, well acted, delightfully sounding, and truly exciting sci-fi action film. A real classic, a true masterpiece, and an obvious 5 star film. Bring on the sequels!
Visual Effects: 9.5
Violence & Gore: 7.5
Sex & Nudity: 2
Drugs & Profanity: 2
Intensity & Horror: 6