”The Matrix” is the most influential action movie of its generation. This is not hyperbole. It isn’t even a stretch. The story — in a future where machines have enslaved humans in a virtual reality called the Matrix, a hacker named Neo discovers that his destiny is to lead the resistance — had seismic impact. And since the movie’s release in March 1999, every 360-degree sweep of a camera, every black-clad hero, every sexy yet deadly heroine, every bullet rippling slowly through the air, is a rip-off that can be traced back to writer-directors Andy and Larry Wachowski. They made Carrie-Anne Moss. (”I had no career before,” says the actress. ”None.”) They inspired the most slavish fan worship this side of ”Star Wars.” They triggered countless pale imitations and dull-witted parodies. They were hailed as geniuses, and for a brief, mad moment, they were even blamed for the shootings at Columbine High School.
”Larry and Andrew shared some of their e-mails and showed me how it was being discussed on the Internet,” says star Keanu Reeves. ”That’s where I started to see [how big the movie was], which was a ways after it came out.”