The Matrix (1999)

The Wachowksi brothers’ virtual-reality science fiction epic marked a new high for effects-driven action sequences, and eventually launched a trilogy.

Stills must not be reproduced, copied or downloaded in any way. Hard copies of some images can be bought via the BFI Printstore and the complete collection can be accessed for commercial reuse via BFI Stills.

Film details


“The Matrix is actually one of the more lyrical sci-fi action thrillers ever made, in which space and time become love slaves to the directors’ witty visual fancies.”
David Edlestein,, 1999

Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) works as a lowly IT programmer, leading a double-life as a hacker at night, under the alias ‘Neo’. One night he is visited by a group of rebels led by charismatic seer Morpheus (Fishburne), who imparts a shattering revelation about life as we know it, and seeks to recruit Neo to fight evil forces at work.

Rising to the reality-bending potential of their premise, writer-directors the Wachowski brothers pushed computer-generated imagery to stage gravity-defying fight sequences between Neo and the Matrix’s black-suited villain Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving).

Alongside its breathtaking spectacle, the film also tapped into contemporary philosophical unease about our over-mediated perception of reality, with radical thinkers such as Jean Baudrillard referenced in the smart screenplay.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) depicted a sunnier parallel universe, while a darker alternate reality is presented to the hero in Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946).

Cast & Credits

Sight & Sound logo

The Greatest Films of All Time 2012

Voted for by 5 critics and 1 director.

See who voted for The Matrix

Back to the top