1. It was less complicated than I had expected. Due to the mystique surrounding the films, I had imagined something more along the lines of Lan (truly strange anime with all kinds of unrealities and multiple dimensions). In comparison, The Matrix has one of the most straight-forward plots I've ever seen. Far less complicated than your average French film. And much less depressing!
2. It's the sort of film that Keanu Reeves does very, very well. No emoting necessary, but he has a kind of introverted, wide-eyed uncertainty that, in this film at least, hasn't blossomed into full-blown angst. I also prefer Reeves shaved to unshaved. With hair, albeit short, he just looks like Keanu Reeves, a kind of icon in his own right. But without hair, you can see what truly elegant bones the boy has--possibly one of the reasons he gets parts so consistently. (I have also decided, based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever, that Reeves is a really, really, really nice guy, and people just love giving him parts and working with him on films, which is why he can walk into just about anything, including parts that, unlike Neo, are not cut out for him.)
3. Despite having seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, I still thought The Matrix's 1990s version of the slow Kung Fu stuff was really cool, but then I'm easily impressed. I'd expected the film to be far, far, far more violent than it actually was. Which may mean that I've entered the ranks of the desensitized, but really, CSI has more violence and sex per episode (and far more implied violence and sex). There's something to be said for a film where the thing you remember best (as everyone does) is not the dead bodies, but the cascading bullet casings from the helicopter.
4. I guessed the a-ha moment. And it still impressed me. It took Neo awhile, but then I have the benefit of the film's popularity (and subsequent discussions) and lots and lots of Star Trek. Of course, the characters in Star Trek never think three-dimensionally or other reality at all, but they talk about it a lot. Despite having guessed the a-ha moment, it was still very satisfying to see it (something which academic writers about popular culture never seem to understand and which I will address in a different post). I felt the same thing about Aliens. That's the second Aliens, not the first Alien, which I will probably never see. Aliens scared the bejeebees out of me, and Alien is apparently scarier. In any case, I knew how Aliens would end, more or less, and it was still satisfying, "cathartic," Artistole would say.
So The Matrix was worthwhile and not a bad way to break in a new TV. I'm not sure that Neo would be as sympathetic a character, however, once his introverted wide-eyed wonder crossed into introverted self-prophetic assurance. But then Dune suffered from the same problem.