The Matrix (1999)

Directed by Lilly Wachowski and Lana Wachowski

Set in the 22nd century, The Matrix tells the story of a computer hacker who joins a group of underground insurgents fighting the vast and powerful computers who now rule the earth.

It's no use carping on about that Dark City (1998) did all of this the year before, or that the film's Nopanesque 'deep' thoughts barely get out of Philosophy 101. Or that even before we touch on something as subjective as 'chemistry', there is absolutely no reason for viewers to understand what Trinity and Neo even like about each other...

... but when it's pulled off with this much cinephilia and flair, who really cares?

Anyway, this is is the first time I've watched this in about 15 years and what strikes me now is just how much care and attention went into it, and also just how much the urban environment feels vaguely unsettling. Obviously, part of this is because the movie is very, very green. But I believe part of this also comes from the fact it was filmed in Sydney. It's not that Australia is an alien culture in any sense, but we are so used to the small details of North American cities that the streets of Sydney look superficially familiar, yet there is something uncannily 'off' about them if we are being asked to see them as just another US metropolis — not unlike the unheimlich soundstage Kubrick built for Eyes Wide Shut (1999). Oh, yeah, watch out for the massive "M" vs "F" in the final sequence: how did nobody spit this?

Anyway, Morpheus is so obviously the most important character that I'm not surprised that when Val Kilmer, when half-heartedly approached for the part, wanted to orient it (even more) around him.