Updated: Nov 12, 2019
Nominee #16 - The Matrix (1999)
A computer hacker with a relatively normal life discovers the truth of reality and his duty in the rebellion against its controllers.
When audiences saw the opening scene of The Matrix (1999), they knew at once that they were watching something truly pathbreaking.
It starts off as a typical arrest. A number of cops surround Trinity (played by Carrie-Anne Moss) and are ready to apprehend her. But she swivels around in a fraction of a second and launches into them with superhuman speed and a balletic version of Kung-fu. This marks the first popular use of the visual effect now known as "bullet time" (slowing down the action whilst the camera pivots quickly around the subjects). The Wachowski brothers (sisters, does it matter?) are so intense – have been for a long time. How else would they come up with a ‘’kick in the gut’’ opening scene like this?
The opening credits (and the movie to follow) are drenched in the kind of green that you remember from computer screens of the 1990s. Code dripping like blood, only it’s green blood (a precursor for movie nuts who loved The Predator’s green blood!).
‘’No Lieutenant, your men are already dead’’.
A bunch of gun-wielding cops high up in a derelict building burst through Room ‘303’ where Trinity’s sitting, back to them. The camera rises in front of her, catching her eyes, her face - only to be blinded somewhat by the light from police torches, she holds her hands out and up in pretend-surrender. Outside below, the Agents warn the overconfident cops that they’ve underestimated their target – one little girl. The Lieutenant snorts ‘’We’ve sent two units, they’re bringing her down now’’. Then the killer line from the Agent, prediction and postmortem at once: ‘’No Lieutenant, your men are already dead’’.
In the room Trinity explodes, using the darkness, her speed, her strength and power to easily overpower the cops. The first kick she executes: her upper-body sitting on top of the less than/greater than face-off sign that her thighs and legs make, all a few feet off the ground. She then climbs the wall and runs over its corners only to rebound closer, deadlier to the cops below.
In the rooftop chase that follows, the cops watch bewildered as the Agents are doing the same things she is, effortlessly crossing spaces that humans would baulk at. Then that leap from one building to the next – camera in the sky looking down captures her hurtle across an impossible space. The Agent follows. A hiding Trinity, knows now, that only one (an Agent) has managed the leap.
She makes a second doubly impossible leap this time virtually flying through the air. By the time she gets down to the ringing phone in the booth below a hostile truck has also reached the booth. She rushes to pick the phone up and from inside the booth, sees the truck’s hood smash in like a giant fist.