First Impressions: ‘The Matrix’

Monday, November 16, 2020 - 2:37pm

NOSELL

Warner Bros.

I’ve watched a lot of movies in my lifetime. A lot. And yet my film knowledge is severely lacking in one particular area. I haven’t watched a number of “big-name” films: the movies that people praise all the time, the movies that are all over “movies you have to watch before you die” lists, the movies that everyone knows by name ... They’re all movies that I definitely should have watched by now, so I’ve decided to take the time and document my “First Impressions” of this category of film.

“The Matrix” is referenced everywhere: It has been spoofed and parodied a thousand times, people dodge bullets like Neo (Keanu Reeves, “Speed”) in tons of films and phrases like “there’s a glitch in the Matrix” pop up all the time.

And yet, you have to really experience “The Matrix” to understand it (and even then, you might still not get it all). The concept of the Matrix is confusing, but the longer you watch, the more sense you will make of the confusing fake world that we all think is real. The real confusing part of the film is the idea of the Zion city that resides in the “real world.” I’m fairly certain that more information on Zion is given in future films of the franchise, but you shouldn’t have to rely on future movies to get an understanding of basic world-building elements in the original film.

Besides the few structural elements of the film that are confusing and take a while to wrap your mind around, “The Matrix” is an epic and exciting movie to experience. From the very beginning, with Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss, “Memento”) outrunning Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving, “V for Vendetta”) to the very end with Neo embracing his role as “the one,” the movie captures you. 

Even if you don’t fully understand the idea of the Matrix or Zion or anything else about the movie, the one thing that everyone is sure to appreciate about it is the action scenes. They can sometimes feel unnecessary or drawn out, but they are without a doubt what makes the movie what it is. For instance, the training scene between Neo and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne, “Ant-Man and the Wasp”) is incredible to watch. You wouldn’t expect Morpheus to be as capable as he is, considering the presumed age difference between him and Neo, but he can handle himself just fine. Similarly, a majority of the last half hour of the film is gunfire and almost nothing else. It’s intense and encapsulating and amazing. Watching Neo and Trinity stroll into a building and immediately begin tearing everyone to shreds may be too violent for some people, but if you like action and battle scenes like me, it’s exciting. 

As amazing as the movie is, it has one fatal flaw. Though a romance between Trinity and Neo was inevitable, the way that it unfolded was unsatisfying. And when Trinity literally kisses Neo back to life, I cringed. A trope like that may be acceptable in a more lighthearted kids’ film, but in this movie it just felt forced and wrong. 

Despite its few shortcomings, “The Matrix” is an amazing movie, one that I am glad to have finally watched. That being said, I’m not entirely sure that its sequels will be able to live up to this movie. They may give more knowledge on a few of the more confusing elements of the Matrix, but I don’t think they’ll live up to the original. Most sequels don’t. But I am intrigued enough by the original to give them a chance; we’ll see how it goes. 

Daily Arts Writer Sabriya Imami can be reached at simami@umich.edu.

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