There are plenty of scenes in the Wachowskis’ seminal sci-fi actioner The Matrix (1999) that are truly iconic; the opening scene with Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) battling policemen using a wicked floating kick, the scene when hacker-hero Neo (Keanu Reeves) sparring with his mentor Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and the hallway gun battle. But the sequence in which Neo dodges bullets on the roof and Trinity does a kicky “dodge this” while slo-mo shooting a bad guy contains the most representations of The Matrix’s technical and stylistic flair, which directly shaped 21st-century film.
The technique that came to be known as “bullet time” was used several times in The Matrix. The effect was created by placing cameras in a 360-degree circle around the action and then stitching their images together in a way that makes viewers feel like they’re moving around a slow-motion scene. The Wachowskis weren’t the first to use the technique, but nearly every movie or videogame that has borrowed the effect since has tipped their hat to what the directors did.