The Matrix

From SI410
Jump to: navigation, search
The Matrix Movie Poster

The Matrix is a science-fiction/action film that was released on March 31, 1999 in the United States. The film was written by Larry and Andy Wachowski also known as "The Wachowskis". The film centers around a computer hacker named Neo who learns that the fate of the world rests on his shoulders when a group of rebels reveal the true nature of reality to him. This reality is a world where machines with artificial intelligence create a facade that looks like the reality most humans see in an attempt to keep humans satisfied while they are grown and used as a source of energy.


Thomas Anderson (alias Neo) is a computer programmer who spends his nights making money on the side by computer hacking. Neo meets a woman named Trinity at a nightclub who tells him that she can introduce him to Morpheus, and that he can help Neo understand the meaning of The Matrix. Up until this point, Neo had just been getting cryptic messages on his computer about The Matrix but he did not understand what they meant. Neo is apprehended by three men who arrest him and try to stop him from getting in touch with Morpheus. They implant a literal bug in Neo and he wakes up thinking that he had just had a bad dream. Trinity then shows up again to take Neo to see Morpheus but first destroys the bug that the three men, called Agents, implanted in Neo, this is when Neo realizes that everything that has happened up to this point has been real and not just a dream. Neo is taken to Morpheus who then proceeds to tell him the truth about The Matrix. He explains that 1999 is not the actual year and it is, in fact, closer to the year 2199; he also explains how The Matrix is an artificial intelligence program that humans are connected to which makes them see a reality that is completely different from the actual one where free humans live underground in fear of the machines that try and use humans as an energy source. Morpheus then gives Neo a choice, he can either take a red pill and be awakened from The Matrix and see what reality really is or he can take a blue pill and forget that any of this ever happened. Neo decides to take the red pill.

Neo wakes up in reality where he finds that people can connect themselves to The Matrix, which is how Trinity and Morpheus were able to get in contact with Neo. Neo undergoes combat and weapons training by connecting himself into a training program which will translate over when he connects to The Matrix. Morpheus also takes Neo into a training program that demonstrates the danger of Agents. Agents are tools of The Matrix that are in place to keep The Matrix running smoothly and they are programmed to destroy the humans who have been freed from The Matrix. Once he goes through all the training Morpheus wants to take Neo to see The Oracle who is in The Matrix and is able to tell the destiny the people who go to see her. Morpheus wants to take Neo because he believes that he is "The One" who is destined to bring down The Matrix and stop the rule of the machines. The Oracle tells Neo that he is not "The One" but he will have to choose between his life and the life of Morpheus one day soon.

Before the group who went to see The Oracle are about to leave The Matrix, they get ambushed by the Agents, and Morpheus then has to sacrifice himself in order to get Neo out of The Matrix alive, Morpheus still believes that Neo is "The One" because Neo never told him what The Oracle said. This causes Neo to feel very guilty and inspires him to lead a rescue mission to save Morpheus from the Agents.
The Lobby Scene When Neo Saves Morpheus

During Neo's time in The Matrix while trying to save Morpheus he becomes more confident in his abilities and even becomes able to dodge bullets when an Agent fires them at him. Neo and Trinity end up saving Morpheus and start to leave to get out of The Matrix. After Morpheus and Trinity escape The Matrix Agent Smith shoots the phone they were using to escape and Neo is trapped in The Matrix with Agent Smith, but instead of running he chooses to stay and fight him even though no one has ever beaten an Agent in one on one combat before. During the fight, Neo shows that he is an even match for Agent Smith and even looks like he is about to win after Agent Smith is hit by an oncoming subway train. Agent Smith, however, survives the collision and Neo decides to run and try to escape The Matrix. As Neo is about to get to a phone to escape an Agent shoots him at point-blank range in the chest. As Neo is dying Trinity speaks to Neo's "plugged in" body outside of The Matrix and tells him that he can't be dying because The Oracle told her she would fall in love with "The One" and "The One" would not get killed like that, since she loves Neo he cannot be dead because he must be "The One". After Neo hears this he is healed and becomes fully realized as "The One". At this point, Neo stops all the bullets that the Agents shoot at him and goes as far as to destroy Agent Smith. The film concludes with Neo showing how he has bent all the rules of The Matrix by flying off into the distance, a feat that would be impossible for anyone to accomplish except "The One".

In Pop Culture

If Neo, the main character, takes the red pill, it would free him from the enslaving control of computer-generated dream-world and allow him into the real world. Living in this world of truth is harsher and more difficult. The blue pill would send him back to the simulated reality of the Matrix. Ultimately, Neo chooses the red pill. If he chooses the red pill, he continues his journey to find the truth behind the world. If he chooses the blue pill, he wakes back up in his previous world believing everything he just did was a dream. The red pill, while allowing him to discover the truth, comes with pain. It represents knowledge and truth, but also comes with the burdens with the truth. The blue pill represents security and falsehood, coming with the "ignorance is bliss" mentality.

This popular picture has been referenced in memes

The pill has become popular in culture today. It has manifested into memes, songs, and subreddit pages. A popular Reddit page, Redpill, has gained a significant following as a forum for men and now has over 170,000 subscribers.

--- Consider exploring ethical implications of popular culture's interest in red vs. blue pill. What does this fascination with dreams and reality tell us about society? ---


Inspired by Ghost in a Shell

In the video documentary Starz Inside: Anime: Drawing The Revolution, there was a section that showed how movies were inspired by anime. The first example of this was how the Matrix was inspired by the animated movie, Ghost in a Shell. Ghost in a shell came out 4-5 years before The Matrix did. In this documentary, it was shown that most, if not all, of the action scenes for the Matrix(1) were a replica of the action scenes from Ghost in a Shell. *Matrix and Ghost in the Shell Comparison via Youtube

Explain how they're related, such as what's found in both pieces of media. Also, seems unnecessary altogether and not importance of including this isn't clear.

The Animatrix

The Animatrix[1] an anthology film based on The Matrix trilogy produced by the Wachowskis, who wrote and directed the trilogy. The film is a compilation of nine animated short films, including four written by the Wachowskis. It details upon the backstory of the Matrix universe, and the original war between man and machines which led to the creation of the Matrix. This was done in 2003.

The cinema running order for The Animatrix (at least in Australia) differed to the DVD release. This is the order of the cinema release:

1. The Second Renaissance Part I

2. The Second Renaissance Part II

3. Program

4. Beyond

5. Kid's Story

6. World Record

7. Matriculated

8. A Detective Story

9. Final Flight of the Osiris

--- Why is this important? ---


  • Keanu Reeves as Thomas Anderson/Neo
  • Carrie-Ann Moss as Trinity
  • Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus
The Matrix Cast Left to Right: Laurence Fishburne, Keanu Reeves, Hugo Weaving, Carrie-Ann Moss
  • Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith
  • Joe Pantoliano as Cypher
  • Marcus Chong as Tank
  • Anthony Ray Parker as Dozer
  • Gloria Foster as The Oracle
  • Matt Doran as Mouse
  • Julian Arahanga as Apoc
  • Belinda McClory as Switch
  • Paul Goddard as Agent Brown
  • Robert Taylor as Agent Jones

Ethical Issues


The Matrix showcases many actions that could be considered unethical in terms of technology in a world where the Matrix is real. If machines were attack to the humans in the real world and use them as an energy source, it would bring up ethical issues about whether machines can be considered moral agents or not. If people subscribe to the belief that technology is only capable of completing demands then the designer of the machines could be blamed for the tragedy that has befallen humanity in the Matrix and they would have to atone for what has happened.

Furthermore, the use of cables that plug humans into the Matrix after they have escaped it raises ethical concerns about whether it is right to put a humans in any situation where the mortality rate is high. There are many possible ways for a human being to die when connected to The Matrix, death within The Matrix and getting unplugged from the cables without exiting The Matrix are two categories of ways that one could die. The question of whether humans should be put in to situations such as these is a very debatable topic and also questions if the captain of the ship has the duty to the crew to keep them safe by not entering The Matrix or if entering The Matrix is a necessary evil to continue their work of freeing people who are in The Matrix.

The Matrix also questions free will for people stuck in The Matrix. When everything around the humans in The Matrix is created artificially through technology then it is not definite if anyone actually has free will within The Matrix or if The Matrix has already pre-determined the paths of the individuals.

Critical Reception

The Matrix received generally very positive reviews after its release. On the Rotten Tomatoes “Tomatometer,” it received an 88%, which means it is “Certified Fresh” [2]. The critics from Rotten Tomatoes stated, “Thanks to the Wachowskis’ [the sibling writing/directing duo] imaginative vision, The Matrix is a smartly crafted combination of spectacular action and groundbreaking special effects” [3]. Ian Nathan, a top critic from Empire energetically writes, “The deliciously inventive Wachowskis have delivered the syntax for a new kind of movie: technically mind-blowing, style merged perfectly with content and just so damn cool” [4]. On the topic of the actor’s performance, David Hunter of The Hollywood Reporter says, “Reeves is good as the somewhat fragile but adaptable hero. Fishburne is a savvy casting as Neo’s guide and protector, and Moss and Pantoliano also are impressive. But the big scene stealer is Weaving as the relentless opponent and embodiment of the Matrix’s creators” [5].

On the other hand, world-famous movie critic Roger Ebert wrote a less positive review of the film. “‘The Matrix’ is a visually dazzling cyberadventure, full of kinetic excitement, but it retreats to formula just when it’s getting interesting. It’s kind of a letdown when a movie begins by redefining the nature of reality, and ends with a shoot-out. We want a leap of the imagination, not one of those obligatory climaxes with automatic weapons fire” [6]. Similarly, Jonathan Rosenbaum from The Chicago Reader writes in his review, “This is simpleminded fun for roughly for the first hour, until the movie becomes overwhelmed by its many sources - Blade Runner (rainy and trash-laden streets), Men in Black (men in dark suits with shades), Star Wars for mythology, Die Hard for skyscrapers, Alien for secondary characters and decor, Superman and True Lies for stunts, Videodrome for paranoia. There’s not much humor to keep it all life-size, and by the final stretch it’s become bloated, mechanical, and tiresome” [7]. In conclusion, The Matrix generally had very positive reviews, but it's few negative critiques wanted more originality from the film.


(back to index)
  2. The Matrix - Movie Reviews. Rotten Tomatoes. (n.d.).
  3. The Matrix - Movie Reviews. Rotten Tomatoes. (n.d.).
  4. Nathan, I. (1999, January 1). The Matrix Review. Empire.
  5. Hunter, D. (2019, March 28). 'The Matrix': THR's 1999 Review. The Hollywood Reporter.
  6. Ebert, R. (1999, March 31). The Matrix Movie Review & Film Summary (1999): Roger Ebert. Roger Ebert.
  7. Rosenbaum, J. (1999). The Matrix. Chicago Reader.