Approximately once a year, some renowned physicist creates a paper that suggests we live in a simulated reality, a thought-provoking idea ingeniously pitched in the 1999 box office hit The Matrix. The immense success of Larry and Andy Wachowski’s vision, groundbreaking special effects, and great action sequences generated three sequels.
The Matrix, as a movie and phenomenon, has multiple layers. It became a synonym for fake reality, a critique of computerized society, and a daunting threat of what machines could become if we let them. So let’s take the red pill and revisit the philosophy and filmmaking behind the original story of the Matrix that hits on all cylinders from the first scene to the iconic closing scene with Rage Against The Machine screaming Wake-Up when Neo leaves the phone booth.
Ranking the best Matrix movies
Matrix is a story about young talented programmer Neo, who gets a visit from Trinity, who warns him about authorities. Neo gets captured, and we first encounter the incredible villain Agent Smith who plants a bug in his body. Trinity takes Neo later on to see Morpheous, who is believed to be the most dangerous man alive. Neo is presented with the choice of two pills. Blue sends him back to everyday life, and red opens the door to an alternate reality. Taking the red pill is one of the most referenced ideas from Matrix. Neo swallows the harder pill and discovers that humans exist as batteries for a machine-run world, and what they think is reality is a simulation. Incredible story, plausible plot, impeccable execution with great actors, action scenes, and palpable anxiety distinguishes the original movie from the rest. After a series of beatings from Agent Harris, Neo starts to rely on imagination and manages to alter the simulation, stop the bullets and slow down Agents.
After a huge success, it was hard to create such an impactful successor. Matrix Reloaded continues with the plot line but couldn’t reach the excellence of the original. Nevertheless, we’ve got the same cast and one incredible car chase to remember.
Matrix Revolutions relies heavily on special effects, while character development and innovative ideas are not nearly as important. The story develops from man vs. machine to man vs. machine, and the end provides almost cheap wisdom, for many, a far cry from the glorious questions asked in the first movie.
Matrix Resurrections lets us see Keanu Reeves as Neo again, And Carrie-Anne Moss as a Trinity. A 2021 take on the story dugs itself deeper into nonsensical while trying to make some sense. Without revealing too much, the movie directed by Lana Wachowski lacks the ease of explaining the challenging ideas the original had.
The ideas beyond the movie
The basic idea in the Matrix is that the world you know isn’t real. While we might not live in virtual reality simulation, that idea has scientific merit. As science would explain, our eyes are perceptions, but the image is created in our brains. We only see some wavelengths, and what about the entire specter, invisible to our senses? Outside of sensations, humans also use selective information and paint image based on previous experiences. By playing with human feelings, it could be possible to deceive us quite quickly. That brings us to one of the essential quotes in the movie franchise “There is no spoon.” We might perceive something and think it exists like emotions and thoughts, but are they?
The other philosophical foundation is not so profound but can be motivational. If you’re good at something, you can achieve great things. But to reach the top in your profession or other aspects of life, you must believe in yourself. In the movie, Neo hears he is the one. He can see the talent but can’t get over the hump and defeat Agents. The moment he starts to believe in himself, everything changes. When you begin believing in yourself, it opens up the path to success. It is the high note on which the original Matrix movie ends, which is dropped several times in sequels when Neo can’t dodge bullets or fly again. Wake up. The original Matrix is the best so far. Maybe the Wachowski clan should leave it at that.