THE MA­TRIX (1999)

Empire (UK) - - CINEMAS -

Tak­ing the red pill may have been the cor­rect choice, but for Keanu Reeves’ Neo it proves a pain­ful dose of re­al­ity. And for the au­di­ence it’s a deftly ex­e­cuted early plot twist, chang­ing ev­ery­thing (and hit­ting a mul­ti­plex crowd with a heady dose of Bau­drillar­dian phi­los­o­phy along the way). So the world that looks and feels like ours is merely a vir­tual con­struct. And the world that is ac­tu­ally real is a sun­less, robo-apoc­a­lyp­tic night­mare where hu­man­ity is lit­tle more than an ex­ploitable en­ergy source. It’s a clas­sic sci-fi idea — a hero re­al­is­ing that the world he lives in is a lie — but the Wa­chowskis rein­vig­o­rated it via a plethora of in­flu­ences: Lewis Car­roll (the look­ing glass Neo dips his fin­ger into af­ter tak­ing the pill), David Cro­nen­berg (the body-hor­ror of the ca­bles con­nected to him) and H. R. Giger (the in­sect-like ma­chine). To prep, Reeves lost 15lbs and shaved his body for an ema­ci­ated just-born look. Re­birth has rarely been so ex­cit­ing or sav­agely beau­ti­ful.

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