Matrix, The

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 04/12/99 02:06:46

"The kind of movie Warner Bros wish they could make every time."
5 stars (Awesome)

Not since A Bugs' Life have I felt so thoroughly that a movie has expanded the potential of filmmaking. Not since the infamous first half hour of Saving Private Ryan have I felt the urge to duck behind the tall guy in front of me. Not since the first time I saw Hard Boiled have I felt myself stare open-mouthed at the action on screen. And not since What Dreams May Come have I seen a plot so over-explained for the dimmest audience participant.

But forget that last aspect.
Indeed, when watching the Matrix, just drift off and think about your laundry when Keanu and Larry start theorising about the mysteries of the universe. Don't reach for an imaginary remote control and start flicking channels, don't be tempted to leave, just drift away..

And then be blown away. For Matrix, for all it's story problems, is a study in moviemaking the way John Woo used to do it, back when he wasn't pussying about with Travolta, Cage and Slater.

Matrix takes a good half hour to really fire up the engine and get the pistons pumping, but when it does, holy shit on a stick, it divvies up some of the best action/effects/style/comic book shit you're likely to see on a big screen. Dear lord.

Over the years I have watched a ton of Hong Kong action flicks. You name it. A ton of Tsui Hark, a mile of John Woo, all of Jackie Chan's overrated bullshit, all of Sonny Chiba's overacting, as much Maggie Cheung as I could find, a whole rockin' sockin' bunch of the awesome Jet Li and even the occasional crappy Sammo Hung comedy. The dubbing may have been bad, the subtitles make no sense, and they only come around here on video, but I come back for more and more.


Because with all the budgets and stars and studio backing, Hollywood just can't make a balls-to-the-wall, edge of your seat thrill ride that even slightly compares to what those wacky chop sockie cats from east Asia can make for one tenth of the budget.

That is, they couldn't... until now.

Okay, so perhaps Warner Bros needed to make the Matrix in far off Australia and fly in half of Hong Kong's elite fight sequence choreographers to make it work, but credit where it's due - Warner Bros knew they hadn't 'clue one' how to make this kind of movie the way it should be made, so they paid someone else to do it for them. First solid business decision the WB has made since getting Jack Nicholson play the Joker.

Much has been said about how Keanu (or as some prefer to call him, The Canoe) doesn't suck too much at his part. I'll go a step further. He's the best possible person to play this role. There can be nobody who could play this role as perfectly as he did. No, it didn't stretch him. But hell, it didn't need to. He was playing a basically dull guy, in a basically dull way.


It's also been said that when The Canoe takes up his fighting stance, he looks pretty damn silly. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I say to you this... He was *supposed* to look pretty damn silly! It got laughs. It was always gonna.

Again, perfect!

There's no point in talking further about performances here (except to say that Carrie Ann Moss does ultra-ass-kicking-bitch very damn well) - and there's many other reviewers here that have amply covered the storyline area already; but those really aren't the reasons why you must go out and see Matrix.

The single reason why you should see this movie is that the action is so hardcore, so well executed, so ball-breaking, that when I reached for my Coke and it spilled it all down my front, I was too agog at what was going down on screen to correct the situation. I just let it spill. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the mark of a true action/effects thriller.

I'm currently sticky with dried coke syrup, because the Wachowski Brothers know how to do what the makers of Godzilla, The Jackal, Speed 2, Batman And Robin, Mercury Rising and Virus don't have the first fucking clue about.

The Matrix is a potent mix of overkill, underkill, effects, testosterone, flying debris and abundant originality. No special effect is over-used. No fight scene drawn out. No bullet left unfired. No wall left unmarked. No formula followed.

Action fans, non action fans, martial arts fans, Keanu fans, sci fi fans, disgruntled film fans who had vowed never to see another Warner Bros movie again (that last section was where I fitted in) - dive into this and immerse yourself wholly. Indulge. Whoop. Cheer. Spill soda. And use it as a benchmark next time some tame-ass Bruce Willis action clunker comes to your local cineplex.

Raise the bar of what you expect from movies. Remember how this flick makes you feel and DEMAND it be matched by all others.

And a word to the wise, if you find yourself loving Matrix, go rent "Hard Boiled", "Fist Of Legend", "Bullet In The Head", "Drunken Master 2" and "The Killer" at your local video store - and see how Hong Kong has been making movies this good for decades.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.