The Matrix Explained

by Ken Eckert

Ken's Guide to the Theory, Characters, and Events of This Popular and Complex Movie Trilogy

How it works

What is the matrix? The matrix is, in effect, a mass hallucination: a computer simulation of reality shared by every person in the world,
who is unknowingly plugged into the computers after mankind loses a war against the artificial intelligence it has created.
And you thought 1984 was a tough scene.

To their credit, the machines at least try to design a matrix that people will like, and their first attempts simulate a world where people can pursue intellectual pursuits—just like our present-day internet.

People refuse these unrealistic matrices, and further efforts attempt to simulate actual human society. As with any new emerging technology, there are still problems to work out.

Finally, the opposite is true—the machines have so successfully deceived all humanity that the first task of the rebels is to convince Neo that his past life wasn't real. He has trouble letting go of that past.

Morpheus and Trinity, the latter soon to be Neo's girlfriend, help guide him in their quest to destroy the matrix. Reality must be brighter as everybody seems to need sunglasses.

Agent Smith is one of the programs sent by the matrix to defend itself against the rebels. He's tough and violent, but has a dry sense of humor sometimes. Smith was modeled after my grade 8 math teacher.

In the second movie of the series, the rebels visit Zion, a city populated by real people who are not part of the matrix. The leaders of the matrix may be evil, but at least they have both oars in the water!

Neo returns to the matrix to receive instructions on finding the control centre of the matrix. Smith is there too, and has learned to reproduce faster than a YouTube parody. He has a bit of chutzpah for someone who calls humanity a virus.

The group then have to find a locksmith for the matrix, who is held prisoner by the Merovingian, whose motives aren't entirely clear, except that he's French, which says it all. His girlfriend—sacre bleu!—betrays him and helps Neo.

The rebels are then chased down the freeway by more bad guys who seem to work freelance for the Merovingian. For a world under computer control, there sure isn't much of a police presence in the matrix.

Neo finally meets the architect of the matrix, the man in charge, who presents Neo with some large choices. Machine or man, future or past, the people in charge are always old men with beards!

In the third movie of the series, Neo and the rebels try to find some way to get to the centre of the matrix and control it or shut it down, saving both Zion and the people of earth. Neo says whoa a lot.

Can they do it? After the matrix is gone or under human authority, perhaps all people can be unplugged from it and earth will again be governed by the capable hand of mankind. Won't that be nice?

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