‘The Matrix’ Needed 120 Cameras to Film the Movie’s Iconic ‘Bullet Time’ Scenes

In 1999, Keanu Reeves was the man to watch, especially when he brought The Matrix to life. It posed the big question, “Red or Blue” how much do you really want to know? And then gave our mind something to ponder along with Reeves.

Beyond the question, one scene tends to stand out in the mind of fans. It is the iconic bullet scene in which Reeves appeared to defy gravity.

Keanu Reeves and Hugo Weaving levitating in a scene from 'The Matrix'
Keanu Reeves and Hugo Weaving | Ronald Siemoneit/Getty Images

What you may not realize is that to pull it off, there were 120 cameras placed strategically around to make the ‘Bullet Time’ scene become movie magic.

‘Bullet Time’ was pure movie magic

‘Bullet Time’ is a way for filmmakers to show that The Matrix characters were in a simulated reality. To do it, Neo was slowed down and cameras captured the action from several positions at once.

It allowed the audience to see 360 degrees of action, which was put into play most noticeably in the bullet scene when Neo confronts Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). The two seem to move at warp speed, doing things that even physically fit people could never attempt.

According to ScreenRant, the iconic scene was captured using 120 cameras and 2 film cameras that were placed to photograph Reeves in front of a green screen. Each camera was triggered to mimic and capture the movement of the simulation.

‘The Matrix’

The Matrix begins with Thomas Anderson/Neo (played by Reeves). He is a computer programmer and recluse, who has experienced repeated online encounters with the phrase, “The Matrix”.

He is soon contacted by a woman named Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss). She tells him that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) has the answers that he (Neo) seeks. The next day at work, Anderson receives a phone. He opens the package to hear a man on the phone warning him that special agents are coming, and he is in danger.

Morpheus tries to lead Anderson to safety, but Anderson chooses to be captured over taking a risk when he finds himself on the window ledge outside his office building. The agents put a bug in him, he wakes the next morning believing he had a bad dream.

Trinity shows up, and they remove the bug, before taking Anderson to meet Morpheus, who asks him whether he wants to know the truth or not. Anderson chooses the red pill and awakens in a liquid pod on Morpheus’ ship, the Nebuchadnezzar.

As the story is revealed, humanity was destroyed, and now lives in The Matrix, a simulated reality that models the world as it was in 1999. They are now in the City of Zion, which is underground and the last refuge for free humans to live.

From there, the movie focuses on Neo learning that he is free of physical limitations by freeing his mind and accepting that nothing in The Matrix is real. There is no gravity, no speed, no restrictions on his ability.

‘The Matrix’ lives on

After more than 20 years, The Matrix is still a movie that some feel is one of the best sci-fi films ever. When released it earned $463m from worldwide ticket sales.

Also, during the time since its original release, there have been three other movies released including The Matrix Reloaded in 2003, The Matrix Revolutions in 2003, and most recently, The Matrix Resurrections which has been delayed due to coronavirus (COVID-19). It is expected to release December 22, 2021.

Both Reeves and Moss will return to The Matrix Resurrections, but Fishburne will not be in the movie. The reason for this is unclear. At first, some suspected that it was because he died in The Matrix Online. However, Morpheus is returning to The Matrix Resurrection, just not with Fishburne playing the role.

Weaving will also not be returning as Agent Smith.

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