20 years of The Matrix

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In the summer of ’99, I queued up with my then-boyfriend (now-husband) outside a movie theatre waiting to see an action movie, little knowing that it would be the action movie to define the genre for decades to come. I didn’t know or care much about the content – it featured Keanu Reeves. That was all I needed to know. I had developed a serious crush on him since I had seen him in Speed, though of course I hadn’t revealed that to my boyfriend at that time. (He knows now, though)

When we finally watched it, the first action sequence simply blew us away. We held on to our seats, eager for more. Even in the theatre with tattered barely-there seats, unhygienic but tasty samosas, I dawned on us that we were in for something special.

I understood the basic concept, but my sister and several of my friends understood little of it, and derived what pleasure and enjoyment of the movie from the continuous unfurling of action.

I am talking about The Matrix of course. Twenty years have passed since its release, which is astounding given how well it holds up even after recent viewing. I showed it to my eleven-year-old daughter the other day, and it shocked her that it was so old. She thought I was showing her a new movie.

I told her all the cultural impacts the movie had in addition to the effects on action movies. Every movie after the Matrix featured the same effects and they’re repeated until now.

The long black trench coats with sunglasses became a signature look of any show that wanted to look cool.

However, to properly understand the movie, I had to read the book Taking the Red Pill, which explained the Christian influences and the significance of each pivotal scene. I smacked my head – why hadn’t I thought of it before? The references should have jumped right out at me.

I remember watching it multiple times in the cinema hall. Unfortunately once I watched it with my mother, who is, to put it politely, not an action movie buff.

Dear reader, she laughed.

She laughed louder than she did when reading 101 Jokes for Kids. Her belly ached and trembled more than Santa Claus high on holiday spirits.

It was the most embarrassing experience I had ever been through. People around us were giving me nasty looks, probably wondering what the joke was, or where we could find the comedy.

Despite all the accolades, the next two movies that promised similar but better action sequences and storylines simply disappointed.

I loved Keanu Reeves in everything he did, but my sister just dismissed him as “Mr. Wood”, because of his lack of expressions while acting. It surprised me to know that he wasn’t the first choice of the directors or the studio, but got it only after everyone else rejected it. This included Will Smith who was then shooting for Wild Wild West (not sure if that’s supposed to be a pun), and we all know how well that went.

The Matrix is full of juicy one-liners and action sequences. To list my favourites would be to describe the entire movie, but Wired offers a pretty nifty rundown of the best scenes.

The Atlantic writes about how such an original movie would probably not even be made today.

The Matrix remains one of my favourite movies until now. If I ever find it playing, you bet I’m going to watch it.

If you’re from “The Matrix generation”, let me know your fondest scenes and memories of the movie!


  1. I remember the Matrix reminding me of Plato’s allegory of the cave, but I don’t think I caught the Christian references. Maybe it’s time I watched that movie again!


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