• Pierce Allen

Humanity, Virtual Reality, Philosophy and Kung Fu in The Matrix


At its core, the story of The Matrix is not exactly unique, especially among other Kung Fu movies. Our chosen protagonist, Neo, aka, The One, finds a path out of his mundane existence, leading him to the truth of his glorious destiny through dedication, force of will, “freeing” his mind, and the help of his master and trainer, Morpheus. What makes The Matrix exceptional is its ability to make us question our own reality, and our nature as people. Almost every problem and success our characters find in this movie is intertwined with their own human nature. Whenever I revisit this movie I feel more and more strongly that it’s an exploration, and in some respects, a celebration, of what defines us as a species. Experiencing it for the first time as a small child, came with some terror and violence I might not have been ready for, but it also came with the realization that the action-packed style of movies I obsessed over didn’t have to be devoid of morals, surreal imagery, or thought-provoking ideology. The Wachowski’s use of common and uncommon phobias, philosophy, and martial arts to show human limits and potential, coupled with an aesthetic reminiscent of Blade Runner and Grant Morrison’s, The Invisibles, bring together a new perspective on what “real” is and how a perfect virtual world might influence reality. This is their way of providing depth to the study of humanity that is the first chapter in this trilogy.

The story begins with a bit of a prologue: a short conversation over a tapped phone line introduces us to Trinity’s guarded and loyal nature versus Cypher’s jealousy, cynicism, and self-interest. Shady-looking government agents have tipped off the police as to the location of a known terrorist, and they are attempting to take her into custody. Here we get to see an example of the negative side of human behavior almost right away, when the Sergeant in charge tells Agent Smith cockily that his men are, “more than enough to handle one