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Whoa! The 5 Best Action Scenes in The Matrix Movies, Now Streaming on Peacock
Car chases, mech fights, and kung fu: These are the best fight sequences in the four Matrix movies.
When The Matrix premiered in 1999, it basically forced all action movies to take the Red Pill, changing cinema forever. The Wachowskis’ acclaimed film and the sequels that followed it are groundbreaking pieces of filmmaking, and it’s not hard to see their influence in practically every action flick that’s come out since.
To paraphrase Keanu Reeves’ Neo, I know (a place where you can watch) kung fu. All four movies — The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, and The Matrix Resurrections — are currently streaming on Peacock. So, before you watch them, let’s download information about the five best action sequences from the series into your brain.
First, some ground rules and honorable mentions. Only scenes from the four live-action movies are eligible for this list, meaning that the animated wonders from The Animatrix are not included, although The Animatrix is incredible. Resurrections has a slightly different visual style than the first three movies, and while there are cool setpieces in the 2021 release, none are quite so jaw-dropping or groundbreaking as to be able to crack the top five.
Neo and Morpheus’ duel in The Matrix narrowly missed the cut for our top five, as did the sequence in Reloaded when Neo fights off a ton of Agent Smiths. That scene wowed in 2003, but perhaps more than anything else in the entire franchise, the special effects have really dated it, as the switch from actual actors to all-CGI-doubles which aren’t especially detailed is very obvious and jarring.
And, with that, let’s prepare to say “Whoa.”
5. The Siege of Zion (The Matrix Revolutions)
The Matrix series is, understandably, best known for the bullet-time action and duels that take place within the titular computer simulation. But Revolutions’ best action scene takes place in the real world, when a terrifying number of Machine sentinels pour into the subterranean refuge of humanity called Zion. Only a small handful of fighters in big, bulky combat mechs with oversized machine guns stand to defend the remnants of mankind. The Siege of Zion does not let being bound by the non-exploitable physics of the real world prevent it from being otherworldly, as there is something breathtaking about the sheer scale of the conflict and the long odds.
Once Neo became “The One,” none of the fights inside the Matrix felt quite as scary or difficult as his initial run-ins with Agents in the first movie. With the Siege of Zion, we once more feel as though our heroes — whom we become surprisingly invested in despite them being side characters compared to the true protagonists on the Nebuchadnezzar — are near-hopelessly outgunned. (This despite the mech suits having huge guns. Mech suits are very cool, that’s another part of why this action scene rules.)
4. Trinity’s Escape (The Matrix)
In hindsight, the opening scene of The Matrix, where Trinity escapes from a pursuing agent (and some normal cops but c’mon, she’s Trinity, normal cops aren’t a concern for her) might not seem that impressive compared to some of the fights and stunts the franchise would later pull off. As an introduction to the world of The Matrix, though, a means of telling first time viewers in 1999 to forget about whatever they thought the “rules” of action movies were, the opening scene can’t be beat. Trinity’s big 360-degree kick has been parodied so, so much, but not even Shrek and Scary Movie spoofs can lessen its impact when you see it in its original context.
3. Neo vs. Smith in the Subway (The Matrix)
As alluded to in the fifth entry, The Matrix’s fights lost something once Neo was equal (or better) to Smith and the other Agents in terms of his abilities. Part of what makes the first movie so thrilling is the overwhelming sense of dread and danger presented by the Agents, making our heroes seem like true underdogs no matter how good at kung fu they were.
Once Neo is a nigh-unstoppable messiah a bit of that gets lost, albeit replaced by other sorts of superhuman thrills. But this is exactly why the climatic subway fight in the first Matrix, when Neo is “beginning to believe” and opts to take on Smith rather than flee, is such an incredible sequence. It’s a moment of triumph. Neo’s transition from putting up a surprisingly good fight to — *gasp* — having the upper hand against an Agent is a fist- and blood-pumping moment of triumph.
2. The Highway Chase (The Matrix Reloaded)
Though it’s only the second spot on our list of The Matrix’s best action scenes, the highway chase in Reloaded might be the best car chase of all time (which just goes to show how incredible the actual No. 1 spot is). Coming shortly after Neo fights off a bunch of the Merovingian’s henchmen with a variety of Medieval-era weapons (a fight that might be the sixth-best action sequence in the franchise), Morpheus and Trinity take to the interstate in an attempt to get the Keymaker out of the ghost-like Twins’ clutches.
The resulting action, a masterful mix of vehicular mayhem and hand-to-hand combat, is a high-octane evolution of the setpieces from the first film. We saw what a fistfight looks like in a computer simulation where the combatants can bend the rules. What would a car chase look like in there? Turns out it would look like Morpheus using a katana to defeat a car and then shooting the gas tank to make it explode, a.k.a. the coolest thing anybody has ever done.
1. Rescuing Morpheus, a.k.a The Lobby Fight (The Matrix)
When Trinity and Neo open up their coats and reveal the veritable armory they’ve got strapped to them, they’re not only announcing that the hapless goons defending a captive Morpheus are screwed; they’re also announcing the start of what might just be the greatest action scene of all time, especially if you count (as we do) the entire rescue, going up to the roof, as one sequence.
The bullet- and shrapnel-filled opening assault is chaos, save for the balletic-like feats of Trinity and Neo as they flank and twirl their way through the lobby’s many pillars. Then, upon reaching the roof, the pair fight off additional goons until an Agent appears. Neo does the impossible — dodging most of the Agent’s bullets the way the Agent dodged his before Trinity appears with the save and a killer final line: “Dodge this.”