The Matrix is the first 15-rated film I can recall seeing. I’m not sure exactly when – I’d hazard it was around 2000/2001 when I was seven or eight years old – but I remember the context well. As a young child with a lack of personal freedom, clandestinely getting stuck into inappropriate and forbidden experiences like watching violent action films is a pursuit you crave. Right up there with staying up past 10pm and stealing a repulsive swig of lager from your Dad’s glass among The Holy Grail of playground brag activities that had all your peers in awe and legendary status achieved for at least one Key Stage 1 lunch time.
Back in the early 2000s my older (but still under aged) brother had sneaked a viewing of The Matrix via the well-trodden path of a much older, and therefore much cooler, family friend who owned a healthy collection of graphic DVDs. My jealousy was extreme, and he tantalised with tales of the illicit content, and drilled quotes into my head so that they became as familiar as if I’d watched the film on multiple occasions. “Morpheus believes [Neo] is the one,” is one of those recurring phrases that to this day still ricochets around my mind, permanently lodged into the lining of my memory banks and coming to the fore at inexplicable intervals.
One afternoon when school was out a few weeks later I found myself in the care of the aforementioned family friend. This was my opportunity. I recall my reckless benefactor toying briefly with the ethics of showing a film to someone whose entire lifetime would have to be repeated for it to become legally age appropriate, but in time my pleading and his teenaged apathy won out.