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What is the Matrix? That's what the ads say. Basically, it's a great science fiction film that rates among the best ever made. Keanu Reave's slacker dude personality is perfect for the role of a computer hacker known as Neo, who questions his very existence, and why things are the way they are. Fortunately, other people recognize this, and "steal" him to show him the truth. A large amount of action and computer-generated special effects are only part of the story. This film is a full, fleshed out story that leaves no stone unturned in terms of explaining itself. You do find out what the Matrix is, and what it means to the future of mankind.
This is the type of movie that one could explain away as Cyberpunk, which is a term coined to describe the books of William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Neal Stephenson, and others, but it's much more than a genre piece. There're so many themes running through this film, and it's a very complex weave. I can't go into it too much without revealing substantial plot elements, so...see below in the Spoiler Section.
It's rare that I see storyline that's this full. True, this is Science Fiction, and I'm a bit of a geek, but those aren't the only driving factors in my rating. There's existentialism, salvation, and dazzling imagery portrayed better than most everything out there. In terms of dialogue, I'd rate The Matrix up there with the offerings from Merchant Ivory. Strongly recommended!
Ok, so it's a big machine. I loved the "Sentinels", who were perfectly eloquent, ruthlessly evil, and mysterious all at the same time. Quite refreshing in terms of villanry. When Neo starts to learn everything by downloading it, That was definitely amusing. In one scene, look for the different fighting styles that Neo downloads (Drunken Boxer was my favorite!) The fight scenes rival any I've seen in any of the poorly dubbed chop-sockey films from Asia, and have the right tone to them so as not to be taken too serioiusly.
One thing I didn't get was how they got the guns from the "outside" to carry over to the "inside". Anyone care to make a guess and let me know?