Urban Cinefile
"What they [critics] call dirty in our pictures, they call lusty in foreign films."  -Billy Wilder
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday July 28, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is just another feral computer hacker in a nasty early 21st century world controlled by The Matrix, until he becomes involved with the resistance. The leader, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss) are convinced he is Neo, the man, the saviour, the one who can think like the machines that have taken over and who are drawing their life energy from human embryos. Neo isn’t so sure…and in a journey across time and reality, he and the rebels battle "the agents" led by Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), who are guardians of the ruling machine class.

"My favourite sci fi action film is still Terminator 2, but The Matrix is an honourable contender. It is escapist entertainment in the hottest, most illusion-driven, fastest, tumultuous action style, bridging genres with ease (one-against-the-system/sci fi/film noir/action/apocalyptic fable) and creating its own style in the process. The stunts and the effects are so complex and yet so transparent that it takes your breath away at times, and the film’s climax is stretched out for maximum impact. Keanu Reeves carries the film as the hero, but frankly the performances of the main players around him – like Laurence Fishburn, Hugo Weaving and Carrie-Anne Moss – are all more satisfying, possibly because they have more to work with. Weaving is a superb mechanically human enemy, and some of his fight sequences with Reeves are astoundingly real. Where the film may fall below expectations is in characterisation and clarity of story, but the target market of 18 – 35 will have no trouble with that aspect. There is a hefty dose of metaphysics in the concept, which action fans will leave to the actors to sort out while they enjoy the morphing, warping and kung fu-ing. The notion of Artificial Intelligence taking control of the world and feeding off our (human) inbuilt energy is stapled to some extraordinary technological leaps – naturally – to come out with quasi religious and quasi political undertones. But don’t let that get in the way; the film has enough energy itself to keep Sydney lit up for centuries, and the fact that it was all shot here (including all the digital effects) will probably do just that."
Andrew L. Urban

"Exploding with spine-tingling, sensational special effects, The Matrix dazzles with sci-fi intrigue and mind-boggling technological concepts, effectively pitting perceptions of reality against fantasy, the future with the present. With heart stopping thrills, here is an engrossing and entertaining futuristic action thriller, where stylistically the visuals are carefully balanced by plot and character. There are shades of Dark City, Brainstorm, Total Recall, Men in Black and Terminator 2, as we leap on a magical trampoline that propels us beyond any boundaries imaginable, feasting the eyes, exercising the mind. If this is the kind of product that can be made at Sydney's Fox Studios, with the kind of extraordinary effects by D-Film and Animal Logic, bravo Australia! Keanu Reeves is impressive, his star quality and charisma clearly on show, his almond eyes rivaling the darkest aspect of the production design. Casting is superb all round, offering a formidable platform for Hugo Weaving, whose chilling portrayal of Agent Smith is effectively mannered and quite unnerving. This is a Hugo we've never seen before; his every nuance absorbs and fascinates. The stunts are gob-smacking; from the kung fu sequences to the heart-stopping helicopter rescue over our Sydney skyscrapers and skyline. Coloured by a moody score, there is plenty of ambiguity, easily allowing us to cross the bridge onto the ship Nebuchadnezzar (aptly named after the world's largest Champagne bottle), and embrace this adventure of the mind in a world where our senses can happily work overtime. What is the Matrix? Hire the video or buy a ticket – you won't regret it."
Louise Keller

"The Matrix combines sci-fi with metaphysics and philosophy, to bring to the screen an exciting, ultra-hip and consistently entertaining and exhilarating fable. While narrative coherence has been thrown out the window by writers/directors Larry and Andy Wachowski, it doesn't seem to matter. Sure it's confusing at times, but it's clever to watch, a visually breathtaking piece of enthralling escapism. Apart from the visual effects which are dazzling, the action sequences are often played out like a series of intricately choreographed dance numbers, with bodies effortlessly flying through space as in a circus trapeze. The film is beautifully designed, largely in Sydney's Fox Studios, with some remarkably designed sets that represent varied elements of the realities - or lack thereof - featured in the film and the editing is sharp indeed. Though it's not a film highlighting the art of the actor, performances are topnotch. Keanu Reeves equips himself admirably as the movie's reluctant hero and delivers a sly, sardonic performance. Australia's Hugo Weaving is clearly having fun as the villain of the piece, while Laurence Fishburne steals the movie as the enigmatic Morpheus. The Wachowskis have packed a lot into 2 hours, but it's in the name of good old fashioned movie making. So, in the words of one character, clear your mind --- then take the trip. It's a doozey."
Paul Fischer

"The first immediately impressive aspect of The Matrix is its spectacular visual style, the second its fascinating story line. Directors/writers Larry and Andy Wachowski have made a dark and often chilling sci fi piece, one that sucks its audience into an incredible futuristic world and never relents until the final credits roll. Kudos to the Wachowskis for providing enough intrigue to disguise some of the film's weaker moments; intrigue that is created not just from clever scripting but also from testosterone charged performances. Keanu Reeves and Australian Hugo Weaving are exhilarating opponents who face off towards the end in a few breathtaking action sequences. Like in 1998's Dark City, there are significant holes in the plot, but none that can't be overshadowed by the nightmarish atmosphere that is evoked. In fact, The Matrix often feels like a bad dream sweetened by amusing (although derivative) subplots. Filmed and edited entirely in Sydney, The Matrix will help put Australia on the map as one of the best places in the world to make movies. It is rare for special effects to aid story as much as they do here, and it is equally rare for a sci fi blockbuster to build as much premise and intrigue as this one."
Luke Buckmaster, Teen Critic

Email this article

Favourable: 4
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

See Andrew L. Urban's interviews with



CAST: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano, Carrie-Anne Moss

DIRECTOR: Andy and Larry Wachowski

PRODUCER: Joel Silver

SCRIPT: Andy and Larry Wachowski


EDITOR: Zach Staenberg

MUSIC: Don Davis


RUNNING TIME: 137 minutes



VIDEO RELEASE: November 23, 1999

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment

Also available on DVD

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020