9. The Matrix
Many of these movies seemingly focus on a male protagonist. Now, that happens for many likely reasons. Perhaps producers or studio executives got nervous about installing a female lead on a big-budget project. After all, it’s a persistent myth, even today, that female-led films are bound to fail. Maybe all of the Wonder Women and Katniss Everdeens of recent years will finally help turn the tide.
Then again, this could be the product of years of ingrained and unthinking sexism. Men get to be the leads because, well, they’ve always been the lead.
Of course, it’s also possible that absolutely none of this applies to The Matrix, the 1999 film directed by the Wachowskis. The sibling pair has since gone on to write and direct for Sense8, a Netflix original that’s been hailed for its progressive casting.
Anyway, The Matrix generally follows Neo, a young hacker played with deadpan aplomb by Keanu Reeves. He eventually discovers that the entire world is an illusion created by menacing intelligent machines. The machines have essentially enslaved humanity as a massive, living electrical source. The “real” world (a.k.a., the Matrix) is simply a kind of dream simulation meant to keep the humans docile.
Neo is guided by a series of different figures, but few are more impressive than Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss). She’s an “unplugged” human who enters the Matrix in order to fight the machines. Since she’s aware of the unreality surrounding her, she can muster superhuman abilities and escape through nearby telephones.
She’s also part of a whole prophecy about “the One” that will save humanity (Neo, naturally), but that gets so complicated that we don’t have space to pursue an explanation. At the very least, in a pure action movie sort of way, Trinity is decidedly cool and impressive.