action movie freak    
The Matrix movie poster


"It's the question that drives us . . ."

This movie is the coolest of the cool. I'm assuming you've seen it a bunch of times . . . 
(1999) Written and Directed by: "The Wachowski Brothers":
Lana Wachowski
Lilly Wachowski

This movie appeals to anyone who has, at some time, considered the state of the universe and their place in it, and pondered the nature of reality.





I know why you're here, Neo. I know what you've been doing.
I know why you hardly sleep, why you live alone, and why, night after night
you sit at your computer. You're looking for him. I know, because I was once
looking for the same thing . . . and when he found me, he told me I wasn't really
looking for him, I was looking for an answer. It's the question that drives us, Neo.
It's the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did."

"What is The Matrix?"

The answer is out there, Neo. It's looking for you . . . and it will find you, if you want it to.

This movie is especially cool, and appeals particularly to computer users with the idea that your present reality may be virtual: a program that you can hack into, or more interesting . . . out of. Escaping from our mundane lives is what drives many of us to the computer. The question "What is The Matrix?" is about the nature of reality but also "What else is out there?" We want this life to be the one that is not real, so we can be rescued from it and escape to a more interesting one. Cooler still because its heroes are hackers. Inherent in hacking is the idea that you are smarter than everyone else. We are ALL The One. "The Trinity? That cracked the IRS dbase?" The One who will find the answers, and who can do what no one else can. In a way, this is true because we are unique. And who we are, and what we have to give, is of value for its uniqueness. It's a matter of getting to the comfort level of seeing the value in our 'voice' or vision or person. Neo has to believe he is The One before he can be The One. Deep. Yes, it is.1

The opening credits introduce the idea of a virtual reality and the ability to move from one 'reality' to another, as the camera goes through the lettering and ends up on a computer screen. I found the way they move in and out of  The Matrix the most interesting device in this movie. [Where the phones were, how they got to them, and what happened along the way, played like they were in a video game where they had to run for their lives from Point A to Point B, and the next point of entry or exit would move them to another level (it did).]  I loved the simple little things, like a lens-filter look making the whole world inside The Matrix a greenish hue, or the tie bars on the Agents' neckties, and, the more complicated, like the opening fight scene with Trinity versus five cops. This introduction to "one little girl" is one hell of a fight scene. With a slo-mo jump/kick, running across walls faster than bullets, and dropping a guy behind her with a Rockette-style kick to the forehead, Trinity's fighting set the tone that this was something different. The whole color-scheme-gritty-urban-1940s look of the city where Trinity gets chased by the police/agents reminded me of the neighborhood in "Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper. Like every-industrial-city USA, but with a hint of unreality.

The Matrix green code on computer screen    The Matric movie agent's tie bars    Nighthawks painting by Edward Hopper 

"Nighthawks" by Edward Hopper 

This shot of the fire escape (right) is breathtaking composition!  Throughout the movie, the use of dark and light, the color palette, many of the camera angles, what they chose to frame, and how they framed it were artistic and comic-booky in the best ways. (I loved the smoking guns-and-ammo billboard. Also, the shot of the window that Trinity spots as her escape could be an Andrew Wyeth painting—if he had painted gritty cityscapes.)

When Trinity takes off she sells it. (This "little girl" can run! Her strength comes from her core and her legs drive her through with power, unlike other actresses who may have had training to make the moves, but when they run, still run 'like a girl' and ruin the whole thing
2. There's running and there's running, and she's all out.) It's believable that she has
"impossible" strength and power. With Morpheus's coaching, you see her commit to believing she can outrun the Agents, and she goes for it. Because she thinks she can, we think she can. As she dives building to building through the window, and turns as she rolls down a flight of stairs to face where she came in—both hands drawing guns and ready—breathing hard but fully concentrated on the opening (we keep expecting an Agent to follow her through that opening at any second), she has to tell herself: 

"Get up Trinity. Just get up. Get up!"

Looking back at where she came in, the camera shows us the window frame, and emphasizing that time is critical, the broken mullions llook like the hands of a clock, and the light swings back and forth like a pendulum. (little things but . . . wow! Right?)

Kicking that intense chase scene up a notch, the next scene calls for Trinity to run into the path of a speeding dump truck!  We hear the characteristic 'old phone' ring that is so identifiable with this movie. The look on her face (raw fear and steely determination) tells us more about her character than anything she has done so far. She charges. And disappears!

"She got out."  

matrix-collage_fire escape_wyeth-look painting_broken mullions like hands of a clock_trinity determined to escape

Those many simple little things that go unnoticed or are underappreciated about this movie produce a cumulative effect, subconsciously, and help to make the movie so successful and popular (same thing). As small as when the policemen entered the "Heart o' the City" Hotel where Trinity is, the number on the door is "303" (3-trinity), and when visitors knock on Neo's apartment door, the camera cuts off the first number of "101" and we see only "01" (because he is The One), until he opens the door. You may not be aware you noticed them, but they do register.








Hallelujah! You're my savior, man.
My own personal Jesus Christ.

You get caught using that . . .

Yeah, I know, this never happened; you don't exist.


Something wrong, man?
You look a little whiter than usual.

My computer, it . . . You ever have that feeling where
you're not sure if you're awake or still dreaming?

All the time . . .

Such great words! "Savior", "Jesus Christ", "This never happened" "You don't exist" "awake or still dreaming", and also "unplug".  The idea of Neo as Jesus is hinted at from the opening when Cypher (Lu-cifer/evil) says "We're gonna kill him."  As Neo follows the 'white rabbit' (they use Alice in Wonderland really well in this movie to give us that sense of being out of our element), we can all relate to being enticed to go out when we should be going to bed because we have to work the next day, and then, of course, Neo oversleeps. The following-morning scene opens with the alarm clock going off. A literal and figurative 'wake-up call', and we cut to an office where a man is 'cleaning windows' (little things).


You have a problem with Authority, Mr. Anderson.You believe
that you are special, and that, somehow, the rules do not apply to you.
Obviously, you are mistaken. This Company is one of the top software
companies in the world because every single employee understands that
they are part of a whole. Thus, if an employee has a problem,
has a problem. The time has come to make a choice, Mr. Anderson.
Either you choose to be at your desk on time from this day forth, or,
you choose to find yourself another job.
Do I make myself clear?

The Matrix movie Agent Smith at interrogation tableHow cool was it to see Neo get Fed-Ex'ed a cell phone, then have it ring?! The idea that he has to face his fears (like Christ and the temptations) in order to progress is universally relatable. We see Neo is not ready to do what he must. When he is taken into custody by the Agents, it's like no other interrogation. Again, the dialog is amazing, as is the performance of the actor playing Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving)3. He's such a bad ass. He sits down at the interrogation table and flexes his arms out to the sides, much like a gunfighter would before a shootout, ready to draw his weapon. The weapon in his case is a huge file of papers. (I love the reversal in politeness, Agent Smith calls Neo "Mr. Anderson" but it's with contempt. Love the affirming payoff later.)


As you can see, we've had our eye on you for some time now,
Mr. Anderson. It seems that you've been living two lives.
In one life you're "Thomas A. Anderson", program writer for a 
respectable software company. You have a social security number,
you pay your taxes, and you help your landlady carry out her garbage.
The other life is lived in computers, where you go by the hacker
alias "Neo" and are guilty of virtually [nice use of the word]
every computer crime we have a law for.
One of these lives has a future. And one of them does not.

"Living two lives" is an interesting concept, and here it has more than one application. Neo is already living two lives inside The Matrix, but he is about to live another life outside The Matrix. In this scene the Agents plant a 'bug' in him, and then he (Neo) wakes up back in his own bed, like it was all a nightmare. The phone rings and Neo is told over the phone by Morpheus that he is "The One" and he is drawn out to meet up with Trinity who will take him to meet Morpheus. It's not until Neo is drawn out that we discover the 'bug' was real, the dream was 'reality'. This idea, that even in the 'reality' of The Matrix there is a question about what is 'real', is part of what makes this movie so interesting: the seemingly impossible things the Agents can do; closing Neo's mouth and the mechanical bug that comes to life—if The Matrix is reality, how would you explain those things? Morpheus brings Neo to a place inside The Matrix where he can choose to remain where he is, or to escape to something different. Once again, great dialog. (As Neo and Trinity climb the stairs to meet Morpheus, the camera pulls back and rises above the center of the stairway giving us a "rabbit hole" feeling .   . . . little things)

white rabbit tatoo on girls shoulder    looking down the center part of several levels of staircase with checkerboard tiles      the surveillance bug is a a real-looking but metal bug with long antennae and red glowing eye









I imagine that right now you're feeling a bit like Alice,
tumbling down the rabbit hole. Hmm?

You could say that.

I can see it in your eyes. You have the look of a man who accepts
what he sees because he is expecting to wake up.
Ironically this is not far from the truth. Do you believe in fate, Neo?


Why not?

Because I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my life.

I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you're here.
You're here because you know something.
What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your
entire life. That there's something wrong with the world.
You don't know what it is, but it's there, like splinter in your mind,
driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me.

Morpheus twirls a shiny pill case like a hypnotist, and as he explains The Matrix, he opens the case to offer Neo a choice:

You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed
and you believe whatever you want to believe.
You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and
I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes . . .

reflection of Neo looking at red pill and blue pill in Morpheus hands as seen in Morpheus sunglasses_neo looking at two images of his face in a cracked mirror_neo being pulled up from water tank through hole in the ceiling which looks like a birthI can remember thinking. This scene is so well done. The room is dilapidated yet beautiful, Morpheus's coat is bad ass, as are his reflective (of course) sunglasses without arms. When he turns around, there is lightning and the emphatic sound of thunder. (What an intro!) The set decoration is great—minimal furniture—it looks staged (and it's supposed to), which adds to the whole air of unreality. The idea that you could wake up from your miserable life by taking a pill is seductive. Morpheus tells Neo that all he is offering is the truth, nothing more, and instructs Neo: "Follow me." (more religious undertones) 

In this ultra-clever sunglasses reflection shot, I love that it seems there are two Neos because it looks like only the Neo on the left reaches for a pill: emphasizing the split in reality, and the two choices. ( . . . simple things) Moving to sit in a special chair, Neo swallows the red pill and stares over at his reflection in a cracked mirror. At first, he has no face, then, as he leans forward, we see two faces split by the crack in reality, I mean the mirror ;).  Neo leans forward to touch the mirror, which is like liquid mercury (a 'self-healing' mirror). His fingers go into the substance and it sticks to them, and as he pulls his hand away, some breaks off and stays on his fingers. It's as if the mirror is reality. In this moment of unreality, he turns to Morpheus who explains.


Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were
so sure was real?
What if you were unable to wake from that dream?
How would you know the difference between
the dream world and the real world?

This liquid mirror creeps up Neo's arm and begins to cover him: 'reality' literally swallows him up. The stress of this (the red pill's effects) sends Neo into arrhythmia, and they track him among the billions of others in The Matrix.  He awakens from his pod, is disconnected, and flushed out.  Neo's re-birth into the real world is represented by his plunging down into a womb-like watery place, where he is taken by a long cord, out through an opening, into the light.

Neo has now been removed from the horrific 'farms' the machines have set up to harvest human energy, and is mentally in the real, physical world, on board the "Nebuchadnezzar," Morpheus's ship.  The ship has a little of the pirate feel with a motley crew. The shift from the mental world of The Matrix into the real world is never more impactful than when Neo asks why his eyes hurt, and Morpheus answers "You've never used them before." 

Neo gets his answer to what The Matrix is as they 'plug him in', and Morpheus introduces him to their loading program, "The Construct". The brutal truth is that what Neo thought was the real world was just a computer program, a "neural interactive simulation", and when Laurence Fishburne says "Welcome to the desert of the real" his delivery is ultra cool, and it's as if he's really saying "Man, can you fucking believe it?" ("Yes, we can!")

The Matrix real world landscape     The Matrix movie Welcome to the Desert of the Real     The Matrix movie battery

Fishburne has such a great voice, it flows over the horrible truth like a sugary coating: "The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this [holds up a battery]". Poor Neo. He can't accept the truth, passes out, and, when he awakens, realizes he can't go back. Morpheus apologizes because they have a  rule that they never free a mind once it's reached a certain age. This essential concept (freeing the mind) is in so many other things, like "The Secret", "The Power of Positive Thinking", and religious faith.

The Matrix movie sparring programThis movie also has the 'cool factor' of martial arts. Once he recovers physically from being 'fuel', Neo undergoes extensive mental training. What a great idea that knowledge could be instantly uploaded to your brain! After10-hours-straight training (uploading) Neo tell Morpheus "I know Kung Fu."  Morpheus replies "Show me."




This is a sparring program, similar to the programmed reality
of The Matrix. It has the same basic rules—rules like gravity.
What you must learn is that these rules are no different than
the rules of a computer system. Some of them can be bent.
Others can be broken. Understand?


Then hit me, if you can.

The Matrix movie come-and-get-it gestureGreat line. Great challenge. A physical challenge that is more mental. The sound effects, drums, and gong, mixed with the music, turn the scene into a frenzied dance. (Hip Hop moves were borrowed in part from martial arts, and that is very clear here.) Morpheus gives the come-and-get-it hand gesture the movie is famous for, and eggs Neo on "C'mon, stop trying to hit me and hit me!"  This fight scene is amazing. However much practice it took (months and months), it really paid off. They make it look like they are fighting all out, effortlessly. (And here, for once, when the fighting looks sped up, it fits because they are supposed to be moving faster than is normally possible.) Morpheus schools Neo in mind over matter in perfect words:


Don't think you are, KNOW you are.

As Morpheus pushes Neo's limits, Neo tells Morpheus that he knows what he Morpheus is trying to do. Morpheus replies . . .


I'm trying to free your mind, but I can only show you the door, you're the one that has to walk through it.

This is the crux of the movie: Neo freeing his mind so he knows he's The One. Knowing. Faith. If we can believe in something, we can make it real. As Neo progresses through the "Sparring Program", Morpheus raises the level of the challenges and loads the "Jump Program" where Neo must take a literal 'leap of faith.' Neo fails, of course and, inevitably, this question arises . . .





(bleeding after his fall) I thought it wasn't real.

Your mind makes it real. (!!!!emphasis added!!!!!)

If you're killed in The Matrix, you die here?

The body cannot live without the mind.

So simple, yet so difficult, and such a universal fear: like the idea that if you dream you die, you die.  As Morpheus expounds on the nature of The Matrix and their enemies through the "Agent Training Program" he warns Neo "If you're not of us, you're one of them."  (I love how this scene opens with the crosswalk "Don't Walk" sign of a red man suggesting all the people represent danger (. . . simple things). Morpheus explains that the Agents are "gatekeepers" and all eyes watching are part of a greater machine 'consciousness'. Another cool concept, like "the force" in "Star Wars", yet here, creepy and invasive. Another of the radically cool things about this movie, is that the agents can take over any body at any time, like the woman in the red dress turning into an agent with a gun pointed at Neo.

 The Matrix movie crosswalk light The Matrix movie The Woman in the Red Dress The Matrix movie One of them



What are you trying to tell me, that I can dodge bullets?

No, Neo, I'm trying to tell you that when you're ready,
you won't have to. 

(. . . and we wait with bated breath to see that!!)

When the next scene opens with the Nebuchadnezzar being hunted, it raises the stakes in the movie, and gives it a sense of urgency. (It also sets up the payoff for the EMP-electromagnetic pulse weapon to be used later.) In the following scene, Cypher shares a drink with Neo. We know Cypher is jealous and suspects that Trinity likes Neo. Because everyone before Neo who has faced an Agent has died, it seems like Cypher's purpose here is to inject doubt and fear. The Agents want the access codes to the Zion mainframe (Zion is the human city underground in the real world, outside The Matrix) so they can stop the humans living outside The Matrix from trying to hack into The Matrix and bring it down (and also kill them all).

The Agents strike a deal with Cypher to hand them Morpheus, who knows the codes, with the promise that he (Cypher) can be re-inserted into The Matrix. (The red meat scene seems to really hits a nerve with guys LOL. A life without steak—horrors!) (Love the harp sound after Cypher proclaims "
Ignorance is bliss!") [Yeah, he's a total idiot if he thinks he can really be re-inserted, considering the process of getting Neo out, they're probably just kill him (Cypher). Cypher is Neo's Judas and it says a lot for the power of steak that's it's his '30 pieces of silver'.]

The Matrix movie red meat The Matrix movie group appearance The Matrix movie Cypher drops the phone in the trash

When Morpheus decides Neo is ready to meet the Oracle, the music (Spybreak by The Propellerheads) starts the bad-ass, we-mean-business attitude that drives the movie from this point forward. The camera spin around the room where the group suddenly appears is a clever faux 'entrance,' having them appear in The Matrix without really explaining how they got there. The telephone call to confirm they're 'in' keeps the connection to the idea that somehow they used the phone to get in (but, again, this is not explained). This works for me despite that. When Cypher drops his phone in the trash can with the line open, we know he is calling the Agents and giving away that the group is 'in' and with the phone signal, their location. From the entry point, they drive to the Oracle's apartment building. Morpheus tells Neo what the Oracle told him:  that he, Morpheus, would find The One. As Neo enters her apartment you think: so much for the other "potentials". As he waits to speak to the Oracle, one of the 'potential' children is using his mind to bend a spoon.  The child explains to Neo:





Do not try and bend the spoon—That's impossible.
Instead, only try to realize the truth.

What truth?

There is no spoon. 

There is no spoon?

Then you will see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only your self.

When Neo is let in to see the Oracle, she asks Neo if he thinks he's The One. His answer: "Honestly, I don't know." She points to the Latin sign behind him "Temet Nosce" (Know Thyself) and explains:


Being The One is like being in love. No one can tell you you're in love,
you just know it, through and through, balls to bones.

(trumpets please) . . . In case you missed that, she can't tell him he's The One, he has to just know it. With this, she is telling him he is The One but that he has to get there himself. She tells him he has the gift but it looks like he's waiting for something, which brings up Morpheus's faith in Neo.

reflection of Neo in bent spoon as child looks onNeo looking back at doorway he just entered where above the door jamb is a Latin sign that says Temet Nosce or Know Thyselfa black cat crosses the doorway for the second time

The Oracle tells Neo that Morpheus believes so blindly that Neo is The One that he's going to sacrifice himself to save Neo, and Neo's going to have to make a choice: Morpheus's life or his own. It is just this act of 'religious' selflessness that will make Neo strong, make Neo believe. It's what he is 'waiting' for. A cause, a reason to be The One (in order to save Morpheus). This comes up almost immediately. As the group returns to the starting point to leave The Matrix, Neo has a "déjà vu" moment and sees a black cat twice. Trinity explains that a déjà vu moment usually indicates a "glitch" in The Matrix, which happens when they change something  (This glitch idea is SO COOL!!!!—who hasn't had a moment of two of unreality in life . . . ). Trouble erupts when the Agents "cut the hard line" and the group discovers they are now trapped in that physical location. Morpheus does indeed sacrifice himself to help the group get Neo away, and they are forced to leave Morpheus behind. Like Christ sacrificing himself for all men, Neo will have to choose to sacrifice himself to save Morpheus.

Cypher gets back to the ship first and throws a wrench in the works by killing Dozer and Apoc. Cypher tries to kill Tank but Tank recovers, and at the perfect moment, kills Cypher. It's the "miracle" that Cypher says had to happen, if Neo is The One, to prevent him (Cypher) from killing Neo.  Trinity is brought back first. They cut to the Agents who have taken Morpheus hostage in another ultra-cool shot: of a helicopter and its reflection on the building where they are holding Morpheus. Surprise, surprise, Agent Smith, while drugging Morpheus to interrupt his brain wave pattern so the machines can crack into his mind, confesses that he too hates The Matrix and wants out, and states that he is definitely out to find Zion and kill everyone there.

The Matrix movie helicopter reflection in skyscraper The Matrix movie Neo and Trinity arm up The Matrix movie Neo fully armed

Faced with Tank's idea that the only option is to pull the plug on Morpheus before the Agents get the codes out of him, whether or not Neo believes he is The One, he believes can rescue Morpheus. At that point, the movie becomes a series of things Neo overcomes or defeats to move to higher and higher levels of ability inside The Matrix. Once Neo commits to the rescue of Morpheus (and Trinity insists on going along), the wow factor gets kicked up a couple notches.  Donning the signature bad-ass, long black coats and sunglasses, Neo and Trinity arm up (do they!) and storm the building where the Agents are holding Morpheus.

From the moment Neo's shit-kicker boots hit the floor, what ensues is a huge reason to buy surround sound, and, movie-making history.  (Unless you've heard it, you won't believe the difference . . . . even the sound of the metal bullet casings hitting the marble floor.)  From the reveal of how armed up Neo is when he opens his coat at the metal detector, to the acrobatic gun battle and shower of marble chips and dust, Neo and Trinity take the building by storm. They believe they can rescue Morpheus and they do. This is one of the best bad-ass, walk-in-and-shoot-the-place-up scenes (like the "bubblegum" scene from "They Live"), and damn! do they look good doing it . . .

The Matrix movie Neo and Trinity share a look  The Matrix movie gun battle  The Matrix movie Neo the bad ass
The Matrix movie bullets hit the floor  The Matrix movie Neo flying kick  The Matrix movie Neo and Trinity ride the elevator

And, they shoot the shit out of it.  At the end, cool as cucumbers, they strike a pose in the elevator. As it rises, they set a bomb, escaping the elevator car through the ceiling panel. They shoot through the cable holding up the elevator, and with resulting weight loss, take a counterbalance express cable ride to the top.  The fire from the bomb exploding when the elevator hits the ground floor is spectacular (and it rocks the whole building). (In really good action movies, something has got to be really blown the hell up.) The fight then moves to the roof of the building. Neo and Trinity take out all the soldiers, and Neo shoots at an Agent, who dodges the bullets with lightning speed. Then it's Neo's turn and another moment of movie-making history, known as "bullet time", the movie makers again take our breath away. 

The Matrix movie elevator bomb fire The Matrix movie agent dodging bullets The Matrix movie Neo and bullet time

At last, Neo is exhibiting the kind of belief in his own power that Morpheus told him he would have, still, he is literally dodging bullets and not at the "won't have to" (dodge bullets) stage yet.  Neo calls to Trinity for help and despite all the dodging is almost shot as the Agent leans over him and says with contempt as he aims "Only human."  Luckily for Neo, Trinity has snuck up on the Agent and with a GREAT action movie line (and comic book scene framing) replies. . .

The Matrix movie
"Dodge This!" 

and shoots point blank. The Agents morphing into other people inside The Matrix (like how the Agent became the helicopter pilot) is especially painful looking for the victim. After the Agent is shot, he leaves the body of the (now dead) helicopter pilot who reappears. Neo asks if Trinity  knows how to fly the helicopter and she says: "Not yet."  Payoff for the training program! In seconds, Tank uploads the knowledge and off they go. Another damn-that's-so-cool moment.

The helicopter hovers into position outside the window of the room where the Agents are keeping Morpheus, and Neo opens fire with a Gatling gun! This keeps the Agents from breaking into Morpheus' mind, and Morpheus gets up and makes a run for the helicopter, but is clipped by a bullet and stumbles as he lunges out the window. In yet another breathtaking shot, Neo (attached to a cord) jumps out of the helicopter to grab onto Morpheus. Neo catches him, but then they slip to where Morpheus barely hangs on, and dangles below Neo.  As Trinity moves the helicopter away to safety, an Agent shoots at the gas tank and the helicopter, losing fuel fast, has to find a place to try to crash land and drop Morpheus and Neo safely. Trinity dangles them low over a building and Morpheus jumps, and then Neo.  Realizing the helicopter is not going to make it, Neo suddenly realizes it's life or death for Trinity and does the unthinkable. With faith, he hangs on the the cord that attaches him to the dropping 'copter. Trinity moves fast though, and shoots through where the cord is attached to the helicopter, and it falls away from her, to crash with a rippling effect into the side of a glass building. Another spectacular explosion scene and Trinity, after swinging on the cord being held up by Neo, smashes into the adjacent building, but is okay. Neo then pulls her up to the roof. This is the moment where Neo realizes he is in love, and Morpheus feels validated in his belief in Neo.

The Matrix movie Trinity shoots Agent The Matrix movie Neo opens fire with Gatling gun The Matrix movie Neo jumps for Morpheus 
The Matrix movie helicopter crash ripple effect The Matrix movie helicopter explosion The Matrix movie love  

The three of them head for another location to get out by phone. The Agents arrive too late to the rooftop, but Agent Smith, bent on catching them, says to himself "They're not out yet" and the chase intensifies. The trio reach a pay phone in a subway station. Morpheus gets out first and this is the first time we see what happens to you when you answer the call. A homeless man also sees, and in Agent's Smith omniscience, he takes over the homeless man's body. Morpheus is out and it's Trinity's turn. She has been trying to tell Neo what the Oracle told her, but apparently can't do it now either. Just as she answers the phone, the Agent shoots. Trinity makes it out, but the phone is damaged so Neo can't use it. Instead of being afraid and running away, Neo comes into his own and turns to face Agent Smith. As Morpheus puts it: "He's beginning to believe."

The two, Agent Smith and Neo, begin a battle to end all battles (until Part 2 and 3), and it's fighting on a level we've not seen before. At first, a wild west shootout . . . love how newspaper blows by like tumbleweed, but bullets are no match for their speed. The two men both run out of ammunition and turn to hand-to-hand combat, and feet and legs. Agent Smith is so smug you just want to smack him yourself. Sneering and trash talking and calling Neo "Mr. Anderson" like he's nobody. Each time you think Neo is done for, he rallies. He manages to hold his own through ever-escalating efforts by Smith, and defeats him long enough to get away. He runs to the same hotel where Trinity was in the beginning of the movie. (Coincidence that it's named the "HEART"? I think not. You feel me now on those little things?)  Unfortunately, Agent Smith beats him there, and when Neo opens the door, Agent Smith shoots him in the chest (heart), several times. Of course! Just when you thought Neo would make it. So, Neo dies, but, he also lives. Neo becomes The One by defeating death. Is it the love of Trinity that brings him back? (Girls say yes, and so does the name of the hotel.) Technically, Neo got shot in The Matrix (which is not real), so he must have figured out how the mind could keep from making it real. 

Watching Neo's progress is fascinating as Morpheus's lessons, one by one, come into play. (The come hither hand gesture is remembered as Neo doing it, even though Morpheus did it first.)  I can't say enough about Keanu Reeves in this role. He's got that 'newbie' perfect-face look, an everyman build, and a "serenity to [his] countenance" (worked in some Jane Austen! flexx) that makes him an every man, yet at the same time, he's perfection. He had to be this pretty to be The One. You couldn't have some 'goof', that would not have sold it. Yet that little bit of "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" makes him seem like one of us. (I've said it before, but I believe roles actors play attach themselves to them and we tend to think of them as the sum of their roles.)

Neo is The One because (like Christ) he returns from the dead (because he believed he could).  Neo recovers and masters their universe.  He suddenly sees it for what it is:  code— see green shot at right. (They had to show to show that Neo saw the code. This shot was critical and erases any doubt that The Matrix is fake, and any doubt that Neo hasn't mastered it. And he had to affirm his identity (his chosen identity) with the great line: "My name is Neo!" Loved that payoff.) Neo exhibits infinite power (he jumps into the body of Agent Smith, which he explodes into energy). Neo then reappears and flexes his muscles, and as he does, the walls of the room flex, exhibiting his total control over The Matrix. The two remaining Agents flee. Neo gets out of The Matrix in time before the sentinels destroy the Nebuchadnezzar, and awakes to the kiss of Trinity.  The movie leaves you wanting more (even though it gave so much) because Neo phones someone in the Matrix to say he is going to change things, and you have to wonder, who and what and how?  I wondered, because Agent Smith said "billions" of people were living out their lives in The Matrix (actually in pods). If they all awoke, how would they survive? Was it always the intent of the 'pirates' to have all the pod humans die?

The story has come full circle from the opening where Neo wants to get out and feels like a nobody, to now, he's The One. From them watching him, to him watching them. Inside The Matrix, he can fly, he's Superman. Without The Matrix, isn't Neo just the new kid in a new town? What powers would he have outside? Would you really want to give that up? Now The Matrix seems even more like a game. When you're playing, you're The One. Wouldn't you want to escape back in? It starts in the heart with Trinity and ends in the heart with Trinity, so maybe The Matrix just represents your dissatisfaction with your life, and when you begin to believe in yourself and/or someone loves you and believes in you, you can do anything . . ..

Nah, the world is all fake and somebody's going to rescue us and make us into supermen!

Don't tell me this movie isn't a masterpiece!

ASIDE:  I love it that even President Obama used the red pill/blue pill bit.

The Matrix movie shootout in the subway 
The Matrix movie Neo and Agent Smith airfight 
The Matrix movie HEART o' the City Hotel 
The Matrix movie Neo sees code 
The Matrix movie Neo flexes The Matrix 
The Matrix movie Neo flexes The Matrix 


1  I had a scriptwriting teacher who said that you should be able to turn the sound off and 'get' the movie through the images only, that the words were not important. REALLY?! This movie is proof to the contrary. The script is incredible. Without a script there are no images. It's like saying: "Look at the egg . . . you don't need the chicken that laid it."  No, you do. Here, the chicken came first. The chicken is the reason you have eggs to look at. It's the script that drives the movie. "What are the images?" The answer is "The Script". The script made the images! (The egg is how the chicken reproduces, not: the chicken is how the egg reproduces.) You produce images from the script and then get rid of the script and say it doesn't matter? I don't think so!

2  For an example, watch "G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra".

3  This is a great case for when to use an unknown. Agent Smith is a major role in The Matrix but I was really glad I had never seen Hugo Weaving in anything before. Having anyone recognizable inside the Matrix would have introduced a familiar element and ruined the unreality of it for me.

AWESOME source of MATRIX screen caps:  Screencap Heaven

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