In the early months of 1999, movie nerds were excited about one movie in particular- Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. It was everything they had wanted for more than a decade.
But by the time it was April, they were all talking about another sci-fi action drama- The Matrix.
And over a period of time, it spawned off a thousand imitators. Movies have literally copied it’s action sequences, effects, tone, and even its wardrobe.
I mean, even today, there are times when we see some action sequences in some random movie and we know they got ‘inspired’ by The Matrix.
The Matrix was a unique film. It set the standard for sci-fi and action films, that many filmmakers are still trying to match.
Up until that point in time, action films meant Arnold ambushing a bunch of bad guys with biceps bigger than the machine guns he was carrying.
But The Matrix‘s trailer offered something very different; a woman suspended in air, mid-kick as the camera revolved around her.
And then there was perhaps the most cherished fight sequence of all time.
Something we’ve all attempted unsuccessfully more than once; Keanu Reeves leaning back at a gravity-defying angle, dodging bullets in slow motion.
In the summer of 1999, The Matrix gave its audience everything it promised: things they had never seen before.
And like any visionary movie before it, The Matrix took elements from the predecessors from its genre and managed a way to channel them into something orginal.
Sci-fi films can be an escapist fantasy but we always crave a taste of realism in them. Which is where the plot of the film comes in.
We never like to see ordinary people leaping over buildings and punching through walls (ahem ahem Bollywood). But the film made it so that it was happening in a virtual world, the rules of which could be programmed or hacked.
The Matrix also catches you off-guard with the revelation that the world we know and live in, the world where you’re reading this article in, might just be a fragment of your own imagination…
…but crafted by someone else keeping you as a prisoner behind its endless possibilities.
This might not be a new concept now but remember this was a time in the world, when Windows 98 was relatively a new thing.
The film presents an interesting dystopian future hidden behind the myopia of the ‘American dream’. A frontier that makes you believe that you can be whoever you wish to be as long you work hard and follow the rules.
It induces a certain sense of monotony that you would eventually want to wake up from, only to realise that the reality is worse.