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The Matrix

Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski

To celebrate DCA’s 20th anniversary, we asked you to tell us which films from the last two decades you most wanted to see back on the big screen. This time, we’ve got a groundbreaking action blockbuster that was enthusiastically requested by our social media followers – do you remember the first time you saw it? Let us know what you’d like to see next, sharing your ideas with the hashtag #helloDCA20.

Many of us can clearly remember the first time we saw Carrie Ann Moss’ Trinity jump into the air and remain frozen in time as the camera rotated around her, stopping as she kicks a police officer in the face. It was an iconic opening to an iconic film, and heralded a bold new directorial vision in action cinema.

"It’s difficult to overstate the importance of The Matrix..."

Before he was John Wick, Keanu Reeves (currently awkwardly enjoying a pop culture moment) was Thomas Anderson, a scruffy hacker whose online, cartwheeling, bullet-stopping alias Neo provided an escape into an extraordinary world. Pulled out of what he believes to be reality by Laurence Fishburne’s mentor figure Morpheus, Neo sees the very fabric of life itself become both playground and battlefield in humanity’s war against the machine.

Where The Matrix differs from other late-90s technologically-focussed films is that it simultaneously played on contemporary anxieties about technology and the spreading of information, while also recognising the liberating potential of online life, where someone can recreate themselves under a new name to escape the drab everyday. It is no wonder that the film has been widely written about as an allegory for queer and trans identity, and the fact that the film's directors are trans women has helped to destroy some unfortunate attempts to co-opt some of the film’s imagery by sectors of the far-right.

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of The Matrix on modern action films; while it drew liberally from the style of Hong Kong cinema, it was unlike anything western audiences had seen before. Forward-thinking and open while delivering on thrilling, rapid-firing action set-pieces, this oft-imitated (but arguably never bettered) film pulled audiences down a rabbit hole of green binary code into a world with a new visual language of its own – and it did it all while looking snappy in a black leather trench coat and sunglasses.