By Nell Minow,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Intense, but many teens will be able to handle it.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
"Reality" may not be what you think it is. If you're called to save others, you have a choice to accept or reject a destiny that others tell you that you have. Never give up, even against great odds in an ever-changing reality. Teamwork is important for winning.
Positive Role Models
Morpheus tells Neo he's "the One" who was prophesied to end the war between machines and humans. Neo accepts his destiny, trains hard and makes tough, brave choices. Morpheus looks out for Neo and at one point sacrifices himself to protect him. Trinity believes Neo is “the One” more than he does. She becomes his main ally and teammate.
The film casts actors of different races and ethnicities. While it has a few female characters, they're in supporting roles, sidekicks to the two leading men. Though the film is about a global calamity, all the characters are American. The character of Switch is androgynous, originally scripted as trans. Behind the camera, the film was written and directed by sisters who are transgender -- Lana and Lilly Wachowski.
Inclusion information: Polynesian/Pacific Islander actors, Black actors
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Violence & Scariness
Many fight sequences involving knives, guns, kicks, punches. Deaths during battle scenes. An icky bug enters the hero's body through his belly button.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief scene with scantily clad characters, cleavage, passionate kissing.
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"S--t" and "goddamn" many times. Also "ass," a--hole," "hell," "crap" and "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ" used as exclamations.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The Oracle smokes, one character has a drink.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Matrix is an exciting, sometimes confusing, sci-fi adventure with a brooding Keanu Reeves and a mysterious Laurence Fishburne at it center. It's heavy on special effects and has a lot of action violence (some of it pretty gross, including an icky bug that enters the hero's body through his belly button) and strong language ("s--t," "goddamn," "crap," etc.). Most teens should be able to handle it without a problem, though the plot can be confusing as it unfolds.
Parents need to know that The Matrix is an exciting, if sometimes confusing, sci-fi adventure written and directed by sisters Lana and Lilly Wachowski. It stars a brooding Keanu Reeves, a mysterious Laurence Fishburne, and a strong Carrie-Anne Moss. It's heavy on special effects and has lots of action violence including many gun fights. There are also gross elements, including an icky bug that enters the hero's body through his belly button and strong language ("s--t," "goddamn," "crap," etc.). The film emphasizes perseverance and teamwork.
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Based on 79 parent reviews
Confusing for kids
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Great fun movie!!!
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What's the Story?
In THE MATRIX, Keanu Reeves stars as Neo, a computer programmer with a sideline as a hacker, who gets mysterious messages that lead him to Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), leader of a ragtag group that lives aboard a rocket-style craft. It turns out that it's not 1999 but about 100 years into the future. All of humanity has been turned into a source of energy to keep machines "alive." The Matrix is a massive computer program that has the humans believing that they are still living in a world that has actually been destroyed. Special agents, led by Smith (Hugo Weaving), seek out Morpheus and his followers to destroy them.
Is It Any Good?
This film is heavy on special effects and brooding paranoia, light on plot, dialogue, character, and even coherence. THE MATRIX challenges what's real and what's part of an elaborate, fake cyber-reality, so it can be confusing for both the audience and the characters in the movie. But it's certainly an ideal pick for the kind of teen who wishes that video games could come to life. Though it's rated R for violence (some pretty gross, including an icky bug that enters the hero's body through his belly button) and language, most teens 14 and up who are begging to see it should be able to handle it without a problem.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the relationship between humans and machines. Why was the first Matrix program, creating the perception of a utopia-like society, unacceptable to the humans?
What do you think of the violence in The Matrix? Is it too much or appropriate to the story?
How well do you think The Matrix deals with the philosophical issues it raises, such as destiny vs. free will and loyalty vs. self-interest?
- In theaters: March 31, 1999
- On DVD or streaming: September 21, 1999
- Cast: Carrie-Anne Moss, Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne
- Directors: Lilly Wachowski, Lana Wachowski
- Inclusion Information: Polynesian/Pacific Islander actors, Black actors
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Robots, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- Run time: 136 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sci-fi violence and brief language.
- Last updated: April 4, 2023
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