Reviewed by: Jason Murphy
Mature Teen to Adult
2 hr. 15 min.
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Hugo Weaving, Belinda Mcclory, Julian Arahanga, Marcus Chong, Robert Taylor, Matt Doran, Paul Goddard | Director: Andy and Larry Wachowski | Released by: Warner Bros.
If I had to sum up my feelings about this film in a short phrase, this line from the trailer probably comes closest. “The Matrix” is a terrific film, one of the rare ones that successfully mixes intelligent concepts with jaw-dropping action and effects. Thomas “Neo” Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is a software designer cum hacker who is plagued by disturbing occurrences that are hard for him to merely pass off as mere nightmares. In search for an answer to his questions, he encounters the mysterious “Morpheus” (Laurence Fishburne) and his band of rebels who try to convince Neo that the world as he knows it is little more than an elaborate computer simulation, and that Neo is “the One”—a liberator prophesied to free humanity from its bondage to a malevolent AI.
From a creative standpoint, “The Matrix” is absolutely stunning. It is easily the most stylish movie I have seen in ages (“Dark City,” “Face/Off,” and “Blade” included). Despite drawing from such eclectic sources as “Alice in Wonderland,” the Bible, Hong Kong action cinema, and all manners of science-fiction, noire, and westerns, the film still feels amazingly fresh. The darkly stunning visuals, terrific sound design and music all add tremendously. The performances are great, and even Keanu Reeves did a fine job, though granted, his role isn’t a tremendously challenging one. If the movie fails anywhere, it is in some of the dialogue, which is occasionally cheesy, and lapses into Buddhist psycho-babble sometimes. That said, I found much of the screenplay to be very intelligent, with touches of profound truth and dry humor mixed into it.
From a Christian perspective, “The Matrix” is a mixed bag. The basic story is one of a Messiah come to save an enslaved humanity. However, worked in among this story is a touch of Eastern religion, a fair amount of profanity (including using Christ’s name), and a heavy dose of violence. While I felt the violence was not necessarily gratuitous, be warned: it is occasionally very graphic, and parents would do well to note that this is NOT for the younger teen audience. Some might find the film’s premise of a “fake reality” somehow offensive, but in my opinion, it is an intriguing idea, maybe a warning to our increasingly on-line culture, but not anti-Christian in any way. In short, I would highly recommend this film to those not likely to be offended by the language and violence. It is a piece of terrific film-making; one of the most exhilarating and interesting blockbusters I have seen. I can’t really say more… “You have to see it for yourself.”
Year of Release—1999
—Terry LeRoy Crable
While I think it is possible to glean some good from this movie, particularly the basic message that the majority of us are blind to the fact that we are slaves to the world-system and in need of liberation to the truth, I am far more critical of some subtler messages. Disharmony with the gospel/icons.
The first concern I have is the means of salvation that is offered. While everyone is babbling about the obvious messiah images in the movie, nobody seems to have anything to say about what exactly the “good news” is that’s offered. Jesus taught that the way of salvation was offered through recognizing our sin and weakness, and turning from it to God—trusting him to forgive and strengthen us. There is no work, even faith which is a gift, that can save us. It was his own humble weakness and self-sacrifice, his love showing and providing the way, that brought salvation—even conquering our sin and death. However, this is not the way that Neo images to the audience.