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Why The Matrix has a perfect cinematic beginning

We may not agree on much around here, but most of us admit to having positive feelings toward The Matrix. Remember the first time you ever saw it, how much that crazy intro with Carrie-Anne Moss’ Trinity blew you away by being like nothing you’d ever seen before (outside of a Gap commercial)? A new YouTube video by Patrick Willems called “The Matrix: How To Begin A Movie” points out just why The Matrix’s cinematic entry is so impressive.

To start with, it breaks every typical sci-fi entry mode. Usually, sci-fi movies have to add text or expository dialogue to explain the current weird worldview we’re looking at—like the long-rolling text in Star Wars. The Matrix gives us no such info, just rows of green numbers and a man and woman talking, with dialogue like, “You like watching him.” It’s creepy and instantly confounding.


Then we’re brought to a dark urban scene where a fleet of cops show up to take down “one little girl.” The agents “who wear sunglasses in the middle of the night” show up, to warn the lieutenant that his “men are already dead.” We almost immediately root for Trinity in the riveting action scene that follows, even though she’s killing a room full of cops. Part of the reason for that is that we see her face quite a bit, while the cops are shadowy, faceless figures. As Trinity runs from the agents, the movie then draws from film genres we may already be familiar with, like 1940s film noir or Hitchcock’s rooftop chase scene in Vertigo, to insert more information into the scene.

Trinity then miraculously escapes via a phone booth, and at the end of only six minutes, we are left with a variety of questions—like who is Trinity, why does she have these powers, why are those guys chasing her, and what is the matrix anyway? Then Neo is introduced as our point-of-view character, and we are as desperate as he is to find out what’s going in. Thanks to The Matrix’s breathtaking, bewildering intro, we are already hooked.

If interested in more, Willems previously analyzed the movie’s scene transitions. We remain cautiously interested in the idea of a reboot, or prequel, or whatever it is they’re talking about doing with the franchise these days.

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