• Gareth Crook

The Matrix (1999)

I’ve not watched this in years, but in keeping with rewatching old films with my daughter, it was time to give The Matrix a go. How does this slice of 90s cool hold up? Well the industrial clubs playing White Zombie and Prodigy dates it a little, as does Keanu Nenoo’s awful acting. It was always about style, the leather coats, the mix of cyberpunk consoles and retro telephones, the bullet-time FX that everyone lost their shit over, but strip all that away and what do you have. Lots of exposition heavy clunky dialogue, bad dialogue (“Welcome to the desert of the real”) and just downright cheese. I’m not going to slate it too much, it is cool, it is fun, but it is hamfisted, right down to the needle drops. Action sequence, Propellerheads ‘Spybreak!’, credits, Rage Against the Machines ‘Wake Up’. The premise though is great and the comic styling suits it well, even Reeves’ wooden performance fits. So despite it’s shortcomings, it manages to play up to them. ‘What is real?’, to be honest it’s all pretty obvious, with glaring predictability throughout and my 13 year old film buddy had little problem following the well telegraphed plot. In the future intelligent machines take over the world, build a fake world for our human minds to happily reside in while our body’s are used as batteries, until a prophesied human comes along with a mind strong enough to question this supposed reality and show the rest of the world what’s really going on. All in all, it just about holds up, but only just. Yes it’s a modern classic, but very much of its time and only because it was technically innovative, stylishly sleek and provided a fresh take on the boring action genre. It’s much loved of course and I imagine criticism of it isn’t welcomed. I did still enjoy it, but not quite as much as 20 years ago. Might see if I can find my old leather coat though.

9/10 in the 90s

7/10 now


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