The Matrix (1999)

The Wachowksi brothers’ virtual-reality science fiction epic marked a new high for effects-driven action sequences, and eventually launched a trilogy.

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“The Matrix is actually one of the more lyrical sci-fi action thrillers ever made, in which space and time become love slaves to the directors’ witty visual fancies.”
David Edlestein,, 1999

Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) works as a lowly IT programmer, leading a double-life as a hacker at night, under the alias ‘Neo’. One night he is visited by a group of rebels led by charismatic seer Morpheus (Fishburne), who imparts a shattering revelation about life as we know it, and seeks to recruit Neo to fight evil forces at work.

Rising to the reality-bending potential of their premise, writer-directors the Wachowski brothers pushed computer-generated imagery to stage gravity-defying fight sequences between Neo and the Matrix’s black-suited villain Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving).

Alongside its breathtaking spectacle, the film also tapped into contemporary philosophical unease about our over-mediated perception of reality, with radical thinkers such as Jean Baudrillard referenced in the smart screenplay.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) depicted a sunnier parallel universe, while a darker alternate reality is presented to the hero in Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).

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