With Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, Hugo Weaving
Directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski
by Kerry Joyce
In The Matrix, the people are tricked into believing that they are living at the end of 20th century America. You know, that happy place where people with a lot of money hire people with a lot of brains to swindle those lacking much of either so they can have even more.
The “machines,” thanks to artificial intelligence, have taken over the world and convinced us (the humans) that we’re living in this paradise. Kind of like The Truman Show, except nobody but a few dozen rebels are in on the gag. Okay it’s not a complete paradise. The machines tried making it better though, a veritable utopia in fact, but according to “the machines” our primitive cerebrums couldn’t take it. It seems we need a certain amount of misery. WE LIKE being brainwashed into preferring soft drinks to fruit juice. Any more “happiness” and our hemmeroids go limp or something. So the machines, the story goes, tweaked our reality to that glorious time of 1999. Hearken with the Wachowski Brothers back to the days of now when crime was going down, incarcerations were going up, and there was not a murmur of protest heard as cameras and metal detectors were deployed, into the pubic schools. (Fascist Times At Ridgemont High) The machines created a virtual 1999 America, a sort of socially-controlled theme park. The movie doesn’t say, but I figure that feat took all of about five minutes. Okay, so our world isn’t perfect, but at least it’s “real,” unlike the virtual world the machines have made. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but a virtual rose, no matter how good it smells, stinks. At least this is what head rebel Lawrence Fisburne convinces Keanu Reeves.
But once you lose the ability and desire to freely interpret the fragrance and other qualities of the rose, it’s no longer real, at least to you. That’s the kind of issue that the term “matrix” evokes for me. That’s the kind of issue I hoped the movie, however obliquely, would address. It doesn’t. But it is an excellently crafted, stylish, action/ adventure film. At least Fishburne and the other characters are dedicated to a principal, external of themselves and their own self-interest, something I believe was once commonplace, but is now a heroic feat.