The Matrix is a 1999 science fiction-martial arts-action film written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski and starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, and Hugo Weaving. It was first released in the USA on March 31, 1999, and is the first entry in The Matrix series of films, comics, video games, and animation.
The film describes a future in which reality perceived by humans is actually the Matrix, a simulated reality created by sentient machines in order to pacify and subdue the human population while their bodies' heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. Upon learning this, computer programmer "Neo" is drawn into a rebellion against the machines. The film contains many references to the cyberpunk and hacker subcultures; philosophical and religious ideas; and homages to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Hong Kong action cinema, Spaghetti Westerns, and Japanese animation.
Computer programmer Thomas A. Anderson leads a secret life as a hacker under the alias "Neo". He wishes to learn the answer to the question, "What is the Matrix?" Cryptic messages appearing on his computer monitor and an encounter with several sinister agents leads him to a group led by the mysterious Morpheus, a man who offers him the chance to learn the truth about the Matrix. Neo accepts by swallowing an offered red pill, and abruptly wakes up naked in a liquid-filled pod, his body connected by wires to a vast mechanical tower covered with identical pods. The connections are severed and he is rescued by Morpheus and taken aboard his hovercraft, the Nebuchadnezzar. Neo's neglected physical body is restored, and Morpheus explains the situation.
The year is estimated to be around 2199 (Told by Morpheus that is closer to the year 2199 than the year 1999), and humanity is fighting a war against intelligent machines created in the early 21st century. The sky is covered in thick black clouds created by the humans in an attempt to cut off the machines' supply of solar power. The machines responded by using human beings as their energy source, growing countless people in pods and harvesting their bioelectrical energy and body heat. The world which Neo has inhabited since birth is the Matrix, an illusory simulated reality construct of the world as it was in 1999, developed by the machines to keep the human population docile in their captivity. Morpheus and his crew are a group of free humans who "unplug" others from the Matrix and recruit them to their resistance against the machines. Within the Matrix they are able to use their understanding of its nature to bend the laws of physics within the simulation, giving them superhuman abilities. Morpheus believes that Neo is "the One", a man prophesied to end the war through his limitless control over the Matrix.
Neo is trained to become a member of the group. A socket in the back of Neo's skull, formerly used to connect him to the Matrix, allows knowledge to be uploaded directly into his mind. He learns numerous martial arts disciplines, and demonstrates his kung fu skills by sparring with Morpheus in a virtual reality "construct" environment similar to the Matrix, impressing the crew with his speed. Further training introduces Neo to the key dangers in the Matrix itself. Injuries suffered there are reflected in the real world; if he is killed in the Matrix, his physical body will also die. He is warned of the presence of Agents, powerful and fast sentient programs with the ability to take over the virtual body of anyone still connected to the system, whose purpose is to seek out and eliminate any threats to the simulation. This makes it incredibly dangerous to fight Agents in populated areas, as anyone in the surroundings could become possessed by the Agent(s), if his previous human "shell" was destroyed. Yet Morpheus is confident that once Neo fully understands his own abilities as "the One", they will be no match for him.
The group enters the Matrix and takes Neo to meet the Oracle, the woman who has predicted the eventual emergence of the One. She tells Neo that he has "the gift", but that he is waiting for something, perhaps the next life. From her comments, Neo deduces that he is not the One. She adds that Morpheus believes in Neo so blindly that he will sacrifice his life to save him. Returning to the hacked telephone line which serves as a safe "exit" from the Matrix, the group is ambushed by Agents and SWAT teams. Morpheus is captured as Neo and the others escape, later learning that they were betrayed by the crew-member Cypher, who preferred his old life in ignorance of the real world's hardships. Cypher made a deal with the Agents to give them Morpheus in exchange for a permanent return to the Matrix. The betrayal leads to the deaths of all crew-members except Neo, Trinity, Tank, and Morpheus, who is imprisoned in a government building within the Matrix. The Agents attempt to gain information from him regarding access codes to the mainframe of Zion, the humans’ last refuge deep underground in the real world. Neo and Trinity return to the Matrix and storm the building, rescuing their leader. Neo becomes more confident and familiar with manipulating the Matrix, ultimately dodging bullets fired at him by an Agent. Morpheus and Trinity use a subway station telephone to exit the Matrix, but before Neo can leave, he is ambushed by Agent Smith. He stands his ground and eventually defeats Smith, but flees when the Agent possesses another body.
As Neo runs through the city towards another telephone exit, he is pursued by the Agents while "Sentinel" machines converge on the Nebuchadnezzar's position in the real world. Neo reaches an exit, but he is shot dead by the pursuing Agent Smith. Back onboard the Nebuchadnezzar, in the real world, Trinity whispers to Neo that she was told by the Oracle that she would fall in love with "the One", implying that Neo is "the One". She refuses to accept his death and kisses him. Neo's heart beats again, and within the Matrix he stands up; the Agents shoot at him, but he raises his palm and stops their bullets in mid-air. Neo is able to see the Matrix as it really is: lines of streaming green code; he has finally harnessed the powers of "the One". Agent Smith makes a final attempt to kill him, but his punches are effortlessly blocked, and Neo destroys him. The other two Agents flee, and Neo returns to the real world just in time for the ship's EMP weapon to destroy the Sentinels that had already breached the hull of the ship. A short epilogue shows Neo back in the Matrix, making a telephone call promising that he will demonstrate to the people imprisoned in the Matrix that "anything is possible." He hangs up the phone and flies into the sky.
Directed by.....................Larry Wachowski
Produced by....................Joel Silver
Written by......................Larry Wachowski
Music by........................Don Davis
Editing by.......................Zach Staenberg
Distributed by.................Warner Bros.
Village Roadshow Pictures
Followed by...................The Matrix Reloaded