Filmsite Movie Review
The Matrix (1999)
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Plot Synopsis (continued)

Morpheus' Description of the Matrix to Neo:

The super-cool Morpheus - a mysterious, legendary, bald-headed underground hacker and cyber-terrorist freedom fighter, wearing a long black leather coat and dark mirrored glasses, emerged from the shadows to greet Neo: "At last."

As they sat across from each other in the middle of the Lafayette Hotel room in two leather chairs next to a television, Morpheus began to teach computer programmer Thomas Anderson/Neo about the truth of reality, that the real world was only artificial and illusory - and actually a ravaged wasteland with subdued human beings.

He first asked if Neo felt like he was Alice in Alice in Wonderland:

"I imagine that right now, you're feeling a bit like Alice. Tumbling down the rabbit hole? Hmm? ...I can see it in your eyes. You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he's expecting to wake up. Ironically, this is not far from the truth. Do you believe in fate, Neo?...Why not?..."

Neo expressed that he didn't believe in fate - he wanted to be in control of his life's direction ("Because I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my life"). Morpheus knew that Neo had always felt that there was something "wrong with the world" but couldn't explain it:

"I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain. But you feel it. You felt it your entire life: that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there. Like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?..."

In one of the film's most significant speeches, the velvet-voiced, 'fatherly' mentor Morpheus described the Matrix, an illusory simulated version of the real world (a massive AI system) developed by machines to enslave humankind. It was a completely simulated reality or over-arching facade - in fact, a computer program created by malevolent, cyberworld, artificial-intelligent sentient beings, that was imprisoning the minds and bodies of humans. He further explained that it was impossible to understand about the Matrix through words alone:

"Do you want to know what it [The Matrix] is? The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. (Neo asked: "What truth?") That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself."

He gave Neo a choice - a contrast between what was real and not real by the selection of a pill (a blue one and a red one held out in the open palms of his hands were reflected in his glasses):

"This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. (He held out a blue and red pill in each palm) You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. Remember, all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more. (Neo chose the red pill and swallowed it) Follow me."

Neo chose the red pill to learn "the truth" and as a result, he went down the "rabbit hole."

Neo was led to an adjoining room filled with high-tech equipment, where Apoc and other rebels monitored computers. The red pill was part of a "Trace Program" - to help pinpoint his actual physical location when he was in the Matrix. As Neo was hooked up with electrodes, Cypher warned: "It means buckle your seat belt, Dorothy, because Kansas is goin' bye-bye." Neo reached out to touch a nearby cracked mirror where he saw his uneven reflection. The jagged edges of the cracked edge slowly melted together and became smooth, and his fingers disappeared beneath the rippling surface. When he pulled back, the taffy-like liquid gel in the mirror began to spread.

Morpheus asked Neo if he had ever had a very realistic dream that he couldn't awaken from:

"What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?"

The gooey, metallic and shiny, mercury-like liquid began to cover Neo's hand and extended up his arm toward his neck, and quickly enveloped him - he panicked and screamed ("It's cold") and his fibrillating heart could hardly stand the stress - he went into cardiac arrest. As Neo screamed, a phone-modem connection was locked upon, and he was sucked inward toward blackness. The red pill had awakened him to "the truth" of his real existence in the Matrix.

Neo's Awakening From the Matrix to The Real World:

Suddenly, Neo (bald and naked) was shown to be immersed in an amniotic womb-like pod filled with reddish, slimy and gelatinous liquid. His body was connected to metal tubes and wires, so that his life force or energy could be sucked out. Waking up, Neo broke free from the thin, now-ruptured elastic amniotic shroud of the pod. He sat up and felt a large main cable connected (or plugged) into the base of his skull, at the back of his neck. He looked around, and saw an endless array of reddish pods holding other human beings.

[Note: He was in a large harvesting "farm" amongst hundreds of other tube-shaped pods built layer upon layer into a multi-level tower. It was revealed that the life force of every other human being was also being drained out (except those humans already rescued in Zion), to provide the electrical fuel for the Matrix's world.]

An insect-like, metallic, 'search and destroy' Sentinel machine, monitoring and roaming through the pods, noticed his abrupt movement. The Sentinel dropped in front of Neo, latched onto his head, and unplugged the main cable from the back of his skull as the other connective hoses pulled away from the rest of his body. To discard the malfunctioning pod, Neo was sucked downward into literally a black hole - a waste disposal system to eliminate him. As if toilet-flushed, he spiraled down a long pipe to a pool of liquid waste, where he began to drown.

Neo was reborn and rescued by a flying machine (named the Nebuchadnezzar after a Biblical king) above him, when he was snatched from his watery abyss or grave by a descending cable with a metallic claw that had emerged from an open trap door. Brought upwards to board the futuristic craft, Neo was dropped to the floor half-conscious. As Captain of the hovercraft, Morpheus greeted him:

"Welcome to the real world."

Morpheus was overjoyed as he spoke to Trinity: "We've done it, Trinity. We found him." She responded with some doubt: "I hope you're right," but he was certain: "I don't have to hope. I know it." Slowly recovering from his birthing ordeal, Neo asked Trinity: "Am I dead?," and Morpheus responded: "Far from it."

After years of neglect and disuse, Neo's atrophied muscles in his physical body needed to be strengthened and rebuilt with hundreds of acupuncture-like needles. And his eyes hurt because he had never used them. After the passage of an unknown amount of time, Neo removed a futuristic IV plugged into his forearm. Disoriented, Neo believed it was still the year 1999, but it was actually about 200 years later, around the year 2199, according to Morpheus.

To further demonstrate the Matrix, Neo was shown the hovercraft ship's core, where a plaque commemorated the craft's building in the year 2069. It was also the source of their broadcast pirate signal so they could hack into the Matrix. He was introduced to the craft's human crew, composed of other "unplugged" free individuals, including those he knew and some others that he met for the first time:

  • Trinity, First Officer
  • Apoc (Julian Arahanga)
  • Switch (Belinda McClory), a white-haired androgyne female
  • Cypher, skeptical of the search for "The One"
  • Tank (Marcus Chong), operator and trainer, born in the real world outside of the Matrix ("100% pure, old-fashioned, homegrown human. Born free right here in the real world. Genuine child of Zion")
  • Dozer (Anthony Ray Parker), Nebuchadnezzar's pilot, Tank's big brother (also born outside the Matrix)
  • Mouse (Matt Doran), teenaged

They composed a small number of free humans who had rebelled against the machines, survived and lived in the real world, and continued the fight. There were others who inhabited a deep underground refuge city near the Earth's core called Zion - it was "the last human city."

The Construct or Loading Program - Mental Projections, and the Matrix:

Neo was placed into one of the ecto-skeleton chairs in the hovercraft, and a coaxial line was plugged into the jack-socket or outlet at the back of his neck. He found himself inside a blank, empty white space or room that Morpheus called the Construct - a computer program:

"It's our Loading Program. We can load anything, from clothing to equipment, weapons, training simulations, anything we need."

[Note: There was a brief glimpse of the hotel set-up: the two leather chairs and television set (with remote) where Morpheus had first met Neo - to describe the Matrix and offer Neo a choice between two pills.]

It was explained that the 'Loading Program' was a staging area where one temporarily paused before jacking into the Matrix. It could be used for gearing up with supplies or other needs, or even for simulations to practice and train. (However, the Loading Area wasn't always shown during each entrance and exit, but it was implied that it was a part of each journey into the Matrix.) Now that he was further into the Matrix, Neo was told that he was actually looking at his 'residual self-image' - Morpheus explained it as a mental projection of his digital self. His clothes were different, the plugs in his body were gone, and he had a head of hair. Everything that Neo was experiencing (what he felt, smelled, saw and tasted) was now just a mind projection into the digital environment (ultimately expressed in lines of greenish computer code).

Through the television screen (operated with a remote-control), Morpheus demonstrated his explanation with a stark contrast between two worlds:

Two Worlds
The Illusory Dream World
("The Matrix")
The Present-Day Real World
(Not Hidden by the Matrix)
Quote: "The world as it was at the end of the 20th century." "The world as it exists today."
Morpheus' Explanation The world of 1999 "exists now only as part of a neural interactive simulation that we call the Matrix." All of Neo's reality in the year 1999 was only a projected visualization of a fake dream world. The real world - a wasteland of decrepit, crumbling buildings, scorched Earth, and perpetual shrouded, dark storm clouds and rainy skies (Morpheus: "Welcome to the 'desert of the real'!" - a quote from Baudrillard's book), dominated by artificial machines.

Morpheus further explained how in the 21st century at some time, a united group of humans (who had "a singular consciousness that spawned an entire race of machines") proudly celebrated AI (artificially-intelligent) machines that they had themselves created. Due to warfare of some kind, however, the humans caused a 'nuclear winter' (scorched Earth) at a time when everyone was dependent upon solar power energy. Without an abundant energy source (the Sun), the AI machines were blocked from the energy source that they needed to survive. Humans also had become dependent upon the technology. Ironically, the machines began to enslave and harvest human bodies for their bioelectricity and body heat as a power source - in effect, humans had become batteries.

Hence, the machines began to grow humans as crops in "endless fields" (human beings were no longer born, but grown), using them as batteries to produce endless sources of energy to generate the Matrix. Morpheus ended his terrifying description:

"For the longest time, I wouldn't believe it. And then I saw the fields with my own eyes, watched them liquefy the dead so they could be fed intravenously to the living. And standing there, facing the pure, horrifying precision, I came to realize the obviousness of the truth."

Morpheus concluded his video presentation with a statement that the Matrix was all about control: "The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to keep us under control in order to change a human being into this." He held up a Duracell battery. Essentially, Neo freaked out - and didn't want to believe 'the truth' of what he was being told:

"I don't believe it. It's not possible.... Stop! Let me out! Let me out! I want out!...Get this thing out of me. Get this thing out of me! Don't touch me! Stay away from me! I don't believe it."

He emerged back inside the hovercraft, where he vomited. After Neo rested, Morpheus reminded him that he had said it wouldn't be easy, and also reiterated that Neo was not allowed to "go back" to his former state in the Matrix. Morpheus explained how dangerous it would be to free a mind that was too old or wasn't ready. And he described how in the earliest days of the Matrix, a Messiah brought truth that had made the people free:

"It's dangerous. The mind has trouble letting go. I've seen it before, and I'm sorry. I did what I did because I had to. When the Matrix was first built, there was a man born inside who had the ability to change whatever he wanted to remake the Matrix as he saw fit. It was he who freed the first of us, taught us the truth."

But now, there was no Messiah, and Morpheus was concerned about humanity's fate: "As long as the Matrix exists, the human race will never be free." He described how the Oracle had prophesied the return of a new Messianic figure who could save and liberate humanity -- and destroy the Matrix forever, and Morpheus implied that the new savior was Neo:

"After he died, the Oracle prophesied his return and that his coming would hail the destruction of the Matrix, end the war, bring freedom to our people. That is why there are those of us who have spent our entire lives searching the Matrix, Iooking for him. I did what I did because I believe that search is over."

Neo's Training with Morpheus to be 'The One' - the Messianic Savior:

The next day, Neo began training in various combat skills and martial arts after being loaded up with Tank's simulation downloads via micro-discs (Jujitsu, Kempo, Tae Kwon Do, Drunken Boxing, etc.) - he was connected through the plug-in jack at the back of his head.

In the highly-choreographed sequence (filmed with multiple cameras and requiring intensive film editing), Neo personally battled within a kung-fu sparring program against Morpheus in a virtual reality environment similar to the Construct. In the real world, the other team members enthusiastically observed the combatants fighting in a Japanese-styled dojo. Neo demonstrated how he possessed super-human abilities and great technique, how he was able to improvise and adapt, and how he could break some programming rules and bend others, i.e., the laws of physics. Neo was able to perform impossible feats of physicality, such as running up walls or leaping impossibly high and far.

However, Neo forgot that he was in a simulation where everything was mind-powered, and he was always beaten by Morpheus. In a teaching moment, Morpheus explained how he wasn't defeating Neo due to his physicality (his superior strength or speed), but because of his neuro-kinetics:

"Do you believe that my being stronger or faster has anything to do with my muscles in this place? You think that's air you're breathing now?"

During the lesson, Morpheus goaded Neo to reach for a higher plane of performance: "Don't think you are. Know you are. Come on! Stop trying to hit me, and hit me!" And then he added: "I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it." Within another training program - the Jump Program (designed to test one's ability to leap across a great distance between two skyscrapers), Morpheus again challenged Neo: "You have to let it all go, Neo. Fear, doubt and disbelief. Free your mind." Neo's first long-jump attempt from one building to another failed because his mind reverted to a belief in gravity. He plummeted to the pavement. When the simulation ended, Neo was injured and bleeding from his mouth. He was told that even though he was in a simulation, his mind had told him that he was injured ("The body cannot live without the mind"). He had to realize that death in the Matrix also meant death in the real world.

Morpheus introduced Neo to more details about the Matrix, as they crossed a busy street in the downtown area. He cautioned him that within the Matrix, most people, who thought they were in the real-world, were not ready to be "unplugged" - and some had become entirely dependent on the system:

"The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you're inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand - most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it."

Another Simulation - The Real World vs. the Dream World:

In another test of Neo's ability to distinguish between the real world and the dream world, Neo became distracted by a sexy woman in red (Fiona Johnson) passing by on the busy street. [Note: She was another training 'program' uploaded by Mouse.] She suddenly changed into the image of Agent Smith with a gun pointed at him. Neo was then warned that they were surrounded everywhere by potential enemies - agents (or sentient beings/programs) that could take over the virtual body of anyone connected to the system:

"If you are not one of us, you are one of them...Sentient programs. They can move in and out of any software still hard-wired to their system. That means that anyone we haven't unplugged is potentially an agent. Inside the Matrix, they are everyone and they are no one. We have survived by hiding from them, by running from them, but they are the gatekeepers. They are guarding all the doors. They are holding all the keys, which means that sooner or later, someone is going to have to fight them."

The indestructible government Agents were powerful sentient software programs, such as villainous lead Agent Smith. Neo questioned Morpheus' hopes that he would lead the effort - and presented a question foreshadowing his own future: ("What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?"). Morpheus assured and promised him that with his unique powers, Neo wouldn't fail like the others in fighting the Sentient agents - and that if he could fully free his mind, and when he was entirely "ready," he would be able to overcome any threat:

"Every single man or woman who has fought an agent has died. But where they have failed, you will succeed...I've seen an agent punch through a concrete wall. Men have emptied entire clips at them and hit nothing but air. Yet their strength and their speed are still based in a world that is built on rules. Because of that, they will never be as strong or as fast as you can be."

Suddenly a phone call alerted Morpheus to an impending threat. Another ship had sent a proximity warning to the Nebuchadnezzar about a "search and destroy" attack of killing machines called Sentinels (nicknamed "Squiddies"). Morpheus and his crew evaded detection by setting the hovercraft down in a dark sewer and going off-line. The team was ready to fire an EMP (ElectroMagnetic Pulse) - their only defense mechanism, but it became unnecessary when the danger passed.

[Note: Sentinels were described as "a killing machine designed for one thing...Search and destroy." They were autonomous metallic killing machines with manipulative crab-like arms and tentacles featuring gripping, razor-sharp claws. They were equipped with sensory devices, red spider-eye-like lenses, lasers, bombs, and other weapons. They resembled squids or octopi, hence their nicknames "Squiddies" or "Calamari." These lethal, fast-moving mechanized nautilus' relentlessly patrolled the ancient passageways and sewers of the dead human cities, and floated on anti-gravity generators in order to roam and pursue.]

Traitor in The Rebels' Midst:

On the ship's control panel monitors, the Matrix appeared as downward columns of greenish, constantly-flowing encoded data. During a discussion with Neo, Cypher explained how it was necessary to look at the Matrix as code. Otherwise, there was "too much information" to be decoded and translated into visual images:

"The image translators work for the Construct Program. But there's way too much information to decode the Matrix. You get used to it. I don't even see the code."

It appeared that Cypher (whose name revealed he would be hiding secrets) was disgruntled and frustrated that he had not taken the blue pill. He described Neo's anointed choice by Morpheus as "The One" who would save the world as quite a "mind-job." Perhaps Cypher was miffed that he wasn't the chosen One himself, or that he was lacking in powers to defeat the Agents, and would rather opt for not knowing about the Matrix.

Soon after, it was revealed that Cypher was the duplicitous crew member (informant) mentioned in the film's opening. In the Matrix where he was known as "Mr. Reagan," Cypher met with Agent Smith at a fancy skyscraper restaurant for a juicy steak dinner. He realized everything was illusionary, dreamlike, and blissful:

"I know this steak doesn't exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss."

He agreed to betray Morpheus (who had knowledge of the access codes to the Zion mainframe), in exchange for ending his suffering in the real world of the Matrix. He asked to be permanently reinserted back into the Matrix to live a comfortable life, and to be employed in a power plant. He also specified that he didn't necessarily need to be rich, but at least to be "someone important." Mr. Reagan requested afterwards that he also didn't want to remember anything after the betrayal ("I don't want to remember nothing. Nothing").

With knowledge of the access codes provided by Morpheus, Agent Smith could become the ultimate "gatekeeper" and attain absolute control over the rebel hackers who were entering or exiting the Matrix and freeing the minds of others.

More Thoughts About Reality:

Over breakfast, Mouse pondered with Neo about how the machines programmed the tastes of various foods in the Matrix, since they seemed to only be guessing. Because they didn't know what 'chicken' really tasted like, the taste of chicken ended up being entirely bland - his speculations again inferred that life in the Matrix world was entirely simulated:

" have to wonder now - how do the machines really know what Tastee Wheat tasted like, huh? Maybe they got it wrong. Maybe what I think Tastee Wheat tasted like actually tasted like, uh, oatmeal or, uh, tuna fish. That makes you wonder about a lot of things. You take chicken, for example. Maybe they couldn't figure out what to make chicken taste like, which is why chicken tastes like everything."

To top it off, Mouse offered to digitally "pimp" his 'programmed' woman in the red dress to Neo: "If you'd like to meet her, I can arrange a much more personalized milieu." He ignored criticisms from the "hypocrites" in his team for being a "digital pimp" and confessed that everyone had base impulses: "To deny our own impulses is to deny the very thing that makes us human."

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