Okay, so The Matrix Trilogy is one of the most influential movies series of all time. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where machines possessing incredible artificial intelligence, powered by human-derived electricity, it wowed audiences with both its style and substance.
The premise of the story is that Neo, the saviour of humanity, is released by a plucky band of outlaws from his virtual reality induced servitude to wake up in the real world and ultimately end the war between machine and man that had been waging since the 20th century.
The stage is set between two worlds. The first is The Matrix, an interactive virtual world in which humans who are plugged in to the system go about their daily lives unaware of their enforced slavery. The second is the real world, which is entirely dominated by those intelligent machines that, following the war, gained dominance across the entire earth.
This contrast is highlighted cinematographically in a number of ways, including colour grading of each scene, scoring, and the ‘clean’ vs ‘cyber punk’ staging of each reality.
Neo, being the saviour that he is, is able to manipulate the programming of the Matrix in order to perform impossible actions, including his superhuman speed and strength. He sees beyond the visible, and can sense the presence of the machines around him. That is all well and good, but a question has been confusing audiences ever since the second instalment of the franchise; Reloaded.
How the blooming heck did Neo, unplugged from the Matrix, mange to feel the presence of the machines in the real world, and continue to perform miraculous acts in a world bound by the rules of physics? Many fans will just let this wash – accept that he is simply a Jesus-like saviour figure that can do what ever the flip he wants to do. But this seems a bit too sloppy within such a carefully crafted cinematic universe.
I think that there is a much more rational explanation; one that accounts for Neo’s skills in both the virtual and real worlds. What if the real world is not real at all, but another, second virtual world in which the machines, just like the humans, are unconsciously enslaved in order to perform a task for a higher power?
Perhaps, both worlds are virtual environments. In one, we have humans providing creative (and, apparently, electrical) power for those that require it, whilst the virtual machine world provides the more monotonous tasks required to maintain the functioning of the system. There would still need to be some form of emulation/translation between the two worlds, hence the difficulties in travelling between the two. When Neo had his incident at end of Reloaded, maybe some form of system malfunction occurred in which he gained a portion of the translation software required to decode what was going on around him in the real world.
So, who created this ‘real-world-Matrix’, and why? Well, it would have had to be some form of being that had the ability to overpower both the humans and the machines. Perhaps the events that led to the creation of the Matrix were indeed a part of the history of the cinematic universe, however at some point in the future, the machines who inherited the earth were surpassed by the next greatest thing, and were in turn enslaved?
Who could that higher power have been? New AI? A resurgent human population? Some form of cyborg-wetware combination of the two? Aliens? And for what purpose was it done? Well, answers on a postcard!
I think if the next instalment of The Matrix, due in 2022, followed this sort of storyline, it could lead to a whole world of possibilities in future story telling within this franchise!