Apparently there’s a new Matrix film on the horizon (probably swishing slowly into view now as they iron out the glitches). My question is who cares? The Original matrix arrived at the best possible time for a film of this nature. The internet was just beginning to take hold, we were fast approaching a new millennium, Beanie babies were finally being killed off and even your Granny new what the Y2K bug was. So what better time could there be to unleash a movie about how technology will eventually take over all life and fool the human race into believing that the peak of its existence was a period just before the technical marvels of DVD’s, My Space, BlackBerry phones and the PlayStation portable.
Don’t get me wrong, The Matrix is a technical tour de force of ground breaking special effects, cool monosyllabic action heroes and brilliantly choreographed fight scenes with just enough mysticism to suck you into the narrative. The now over used bullet time effects and the Wire Fu fight scenes blew me away at the time and lets be honest we all wanted that (WAP enabled) phone…
Thomas Anderson or “Neo” (Keanu Reeves) is a computer programmer/hacker living a grudgingly dull life who can’t shake the feeling that something is not quite right with the world and baffled as to why the phrase “the Matrix” keeps popping up everywhere in his online life. Remember this is pre google targeted advertising, now if I keep seeing the word conservatory every where my browsing takes me, I know its because 3 weeks ago I happened to mention in conversation that it would be nice to have one. No, this is more sinister, something has to be going on, the reason Neo’s life is so dull and confusing has to be the work of some higher power and nothing to do with his own life choices and, of course, nothing to do with being late for work all the time. Que Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss). Trinity contacts him and tells him a man named Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) has the answers he seeks. So far, so grounded, but wait, some (presumably) federal agents and the Police led by Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) show up at Neo’s work place searching for him. This Morpheus character tries to lead him to safety via that phone but he is captured and coerced into helping the agents track down Morpheus who is a known terrorist.
Neo later meets Morpheus and has a choice to make, the red pill or the blue pill. Now full disclosure here, I don’t remember which way round it is and yes, I know a quick google search would put that right, but right now I fear that if I see one more add for a conservatory I may give in and put a deposit down so I am staying well clear. Anyway, suffice to say, one colour will allow Neo to see the world how it really is, the other will allow him to live on in blissful ignorance. To me this is a wholly Machiavellian move on the part Morpheus, I cant think of any possible scenario where I would not take the real world pill, its exactly the same as being sat at a table in a restaurant and being told “don’t look now, but..” you cant resist, you have to look. Morpheus knew this, he new full well Neo would let the scales fall from his eyes and take up the great fight.
For all the hype, the years of analysis, the endless re-releases (probably on all formats including DVD) the two sequels and the preciously guarded fan pages, the Matrix is essentially a heist movie. The whole premise and mythos is laid out in Morpheus’s speech before he gives Neo his options, “The Matrix is everywhere. It’s all around us,” he goes on, “it is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you to the truth..” And that’s it, there you have it. From that point on we know all there is to know about what the Matrix is. We all know that life on the outside sucks, we all know that our Technological overlords are keeping us in some weird HR Giger influenced battery farm feeding off our bioelectric power (whatever that maybe). And I for one could not careless.
The idea that we are living in a compter simulation created by our technologically advanced overlords is one I am more than comfortable with. In this illusion, I have a family, a home, I can eat computer simulated steak when the mood takes me, I can decide to but that conservatory or decide not to buy that conservatory, I even had that phone. I am not sharing the living quarters of a wahcked out landing craft with Damien from home and away, surviving on grey gloop and being pursued by maniacal flying machines that give giant squid tentacle envy. This is why I have not seen the subsequent 2 sequels and am not in the least bit excited about the prospect of a fourth instalment.