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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The Battalion May 4, 2024

‘The Matrix’ turns 20

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The Matrix

Among science-fiction high-tech action movies of the past two decades, you can’t get much more iconic than “The Matrix” trilogy. Lana and Lily Wachowski’s intense story of false reality and heroes in trench coats blew audiences away with a previously unprecedented plotline and pioneering special effects. And as of March 31, it turns 20.
It’s hard to say just how influential “The Matrix” has been in the sci-fi genre since its release, but to say it’s one of the most important films of the past 20 years would not be an exaggeration. From its revolutionary use of slow-motion shots to the development of a relatively unheard of at the time plot involving simulated reality, the Wachowski twins created a film series that astounds audiences to this day. Nineties action films rarely age well, especially as audiences become increasingly used to the incredible CGI techniques that have become common in the movies of today. However, “The Matrix” is so well done and creates such a unique style for itself that I was easily able to look past the effects that seem somewhat cheesy by today’s standards and get lost in the story.
But even if the action technology available in 1999 isn’t exactly on par with today’s CGI tech, the action sequences in “The Matrix” and its successors remain so thoroughly awesome that it doesn’t matter. The film, rife with intense gunfights and kung-fu, is brilliantly choreographed, and manages to show off character’s power and combat prowess. The action sequences demonstrate the competency of the characters audiences spend so much time hearing about.
Beyond the distinct action style “The Matrix” employs, the film itself is an excellent movie, arguably the best in the trilogy it kicked off. Its story is so iconic that phrases like “seeing the matrix” or “taking the red pill” have become synonymous with escaping false reality and fighting the system. The original film has what could serve as a standalone story, although the subsequent films expand upon it. Ultimately, the series plot line goes from good to better as it evolves from a story about escaping virtual captivity to a tale of taking down the system as a centuries-long struggle between a multitude of powerful and clever entities is slowly revealed.
The surreal series utilizes many symbols and allegories throughout, from the famous red and blue pills to the white rabbit, from sunglasses to spoons. The films masterfully convey meaning. “The Matrix” is an action film, with all the gunfire, backflips and explosions that entails, but one of the things that makes it so great is the fact that it has a lot going on under the surface. In that sense, it’s not just an action movie but so much more.
Last but not least, “The Matrix” is noteworthy for its acting. Most people wouldn’t consider Keanu Reeves to be super dynamic or deep in his performances, but he remains one of my favorite actors in large part because of his role in “The Matrix” trilogy. He became the character of Neo in such a strange way. I don’t think he’s the only actor who could have played the part, but I’m glad it ended up being him. Reeves’ performance, combined with Laurence Fishburne in his iconic role of Morpheus and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity, make for a stellar central cast.
Sci-fi has come a long way in the 20 years since the release of “The Matrix.” We have more advanced film techniques, better action sequences and more complicated stories. But the genre, as far as it has come, simply wouldn’t be the same without the Wachowskis’ masterpiece. The film holds up at 20. Let’s hope people are still writing about it 20 years from now.

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