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The Matrix

Free your mind. 

Year: 1999 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski 
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving  
An image from The Matrix


By day Thomas Anderson (Reeves) works for a large software firm, but by night he hacks into computers under the alias ‘Neo’. Cryptic messages appear on his computer screen that lead him to a meeting with a group of people led by Morpheus (Fishburne) who claims that the world as Neo sees it is an artificial one known as the Matrix. They awaken Neo into the ‘real’ world, a dystopian nightmare where people are used as energy sources for a race of intelligent machines that have taken over the world. It gradually becomes clear that Morpheus believes Neo is ‘The One’, a messiah like figure destined to free humanity from the tyranny of the machines.

It’s hard now to remember what things were like before the Matrix hit our screens. CGI was in its infancy, gunfights were usually limited to two people shooting at each other across the room, but this film’s fight scenes are spectacular as the hacker combatants manipulate the artificial environment of the Matrix to distort time and space, and pull off mind bending stunts. It needs to be appreciated on the big screen, and if you missed it the first time around now is your chance!

Lewis Bush


On April 2nd the fight for the future begins. If you’re not content with a complex story and stunning action, then maybe in The Matrix you might find questions about the reliability and nature of perception, the potentially destructive power of technology, the nature of identity, and the dehumansising aspects of the modern city. At last, high-concept has something intelligent to say.

By now, you know the principle at the heart of The Matrix. Thomas Anderson (Reeves) leads a double life, a computer programmer by day and by night is Neo, providing programmes for mescaline-soaked hackers. After a disturbing message leads him to an encounter with Trinity (Moss) in a nightclub, he finds out that what he thinks of as reality is actually a computer-generated fantasy. And so begins his involvement with the few rebels struggling to free humanity from the Matrix.

The action scenes are an incredible mix of John Woo gunfights and Bruce Lee martial arts, presented in a combination of slow-motion and double-speed, plus ‘flo-mo’, which it is pointless to describe - you’ll know when you see it. These sequences are all the more remarkable for their lack of slight-of-hand - the cast spent months in training, so games of ‘Spot the Stand-In’ aren’t possible.

Reeves is remarkably good here, perfectly cast as Neo, and even if his acting talent were negligible, he would still be worth watching. The camera lingers over his profile, lit only by the green glow of a computer screen, but it is the lobby shoot-out which stands out. Dressed all in black with a seemingly unfeasible number of firearms strapped to him, he embodies everything that is fascinating and sexy about violence in films. If Reeves holds no appeal, then Carrie-Ann Moss ought to. Poured into a tight catsuit, she fights and leaps her way out of sticky situations in a way that Catwoman only dreamed of.

There is remarkably little to dislike about The Matrix, it’s one of those rare mainstream movies which holds enough to interest nearly everybody, whether they want to engage their brain or not.

Katherine Shaw

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Screenings of this film:

1999/2000 Autumn Term (35mm)
1999/2000 Autumn Term (35mm)
1999/2000 Autumn Term (35mm)
1999/2000 Autumn Term (35mm)
2015/2016 Spring Term (digital)
2022/2023 Spring Term (35mm)
2022/2023 Spring Term (35mm)