Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis
modern-cyber-woman-with-matrix-eye-stockpack-adobe-stock
Modern cyber woman with matrix eye
Modern cyber woman with matrix eye

The Matrix Revolutions (2003) Spins Out of Control

In Part I of this review of the third film in The Matrix trilogy — anticipating The Matrix: Resurrections (December 22) — we bring you up to date on the story

Recently, I’ve been reviewing — and reminiscing, if you like — The Matrix (1999) and The Matrix Reloaded (2003). After all, The Matrix: Resurrections opens December 22. Although I find the plots disjointed so far, I can at least provide you with a cheat sheet for what happened earlier. Now let’s see what happens in the third film in the turn-of-the-millennium trilogy, The Matrix Revolutions (2003).

Alas, the confusion continues. The movie opens with our lead characters discovering that Neo is not in a coma after all but has been taken to a zone between the Matrix and the real world; think digital purgatory.

How does this happen? We don’t know. How can Neo be taken anywhere when he’s not plugged into the Matrix? No explanation is given. But let’s explain all these anomalies with the phrase Matrix Wi-Fi. He’s taken to this purgatory by a character not mentioned in the previous review because he, the Merovingian the was part of the MacGuffin chase that went nowhere. He’s just as irrelevant in this movie as he was in the last one but the writers must’ve really wanted to reach the two-hour mark.

When Trinity and Morpheus go and ask for Neo’s return, at first, the Merovingian tells them no. Trinity points a gun at him, at which point he says okay. The B plot is completed, and the two-hour runtime can now be reached.

There are so many problems with this plot line, it’s embarrassing. The Merovingian is a computer program whose job is to know. Don’t know what that means, but that’s how he’s described. So how does a computer program whose only job is to know get permission to build a purgatory? How does a computer program trapped within the Matrix build a system outside the Matrix? Is this done without the knowledge of the machines? Is the Merovingian sentient too?

And how is it that Neo is taken to purgatory when he’s knocked out? Does he enter the Matrix in his sleep through Matrix Wi-Fi? And how was he knocked out when he destroyed the real-world machines in the first place? Did he swoon or was something else going on? Don’t expect answers.

While Neo is in digital purgatory, we are introduced to a pair of computer programs who are married and have a kid — which is another computer program who was “written” in the biblical sense without the machines’ permission. They philosophize about love which, according to the computers, is just a word describing a connection between two beings, so apparently, it can apply to machines as well.

So many questions. Let’s explore them, shall we?

Love describes a connection. Fair enough. But how does a computer program which is written with a specific purpose come across an abstract concept, especially considering this computer program was written by preexisting programs which either have no knowledge of the concept, or if they do — and who knows how an abstract concept like love can be translated into zeros and ones — they consider the concept of love something to disdain, which is why the computer family is in digital purgatory in the first place.

They are trying to smuggle their child out because the machines are utilitarian by nature, and therefore, any computer program which serves no purpose must be deleted. But isn’t a computer program something which, by definition, fulfils a purpose? So how can a computer program with no purpose be written in the first place?

Wouldn’t a program which serves no purpose be… dead? And how did these programs learn romantic love, let alone express love for a child? Throughout the entire trilogy, the machines are described as something cold, incapable of love.

One of the themes in the first movie was that love conquers all. Trinity, in a metaphorical sense, brings Neo back from the dead by telling him she loves him. She literally kisses Neo like he’s Snow White and brings him back to life while he’s bleeding out in front of Agent Smith. The machines are supposed to be incapable of love, choice, and human emotion. So how do we suddenly have computer programs that can feel?

One could understand Agent Smith’s situation, if you’re willing to do a little post-launch rewrite for the screenwriters by inferring that Neo’s humanity somehow infected Smith. But that doesn’t explain why Smith comes back as evil incarnate. But even in the second movie, Matrix Reloaded, the rest of the machines are described as cold. That is why it is so surprising that the Oracle turns out to be a computer program.

Love is something that exists apart from information. Humanity barely understands how love works. It doesn’t seem connected to positive or negative reinforcement because most people love their partners whether those partners are good to them or not. So, why assume that love could be detected by programs just because their circuitry becomes more complex over time? Love might not be connected to the complexity of the brain. It might be coming from somewhere else. So, if a computer program can love, who or what is giving them an understanding of the concept?

Either this is giant plot hole, or the writers were wanting us to ask this question the entire time. None of it is explained, and we barely have time to ask the questions before Trinity saves Neo from purgatory. Then we actually begin the movie’s story — which I will review in Part II next time.


You may also wish to read: Will The Matrix: Resurrections (drops December 22) break the mold? The culturally influential trilogy (control by evil aliens) enjoys a fascinating beginning in The Matrix — but a thud! ending. Can we really escape a world of illusions simply by following our most basic influences? If wisdom can’t help, why should instinct be the answer? (Gary Varner)

The Matrix Reloaded (2003) just did not load properly. Although the second part of the Matrix trilogy offers interesting ideas and exciting action, the confusing plot obscures the concepts it should explore. Free will is hard to explore when, among AIs, Agent Smith can think freely, the Architect can’t grasp the idea, and the Oracle understands but doesn’t have it. (Gary Varner)


Gary Varner

Gary Varner is the Assistant to the Managing and Associate Directors at the Center for Science & Culture in Seattle, Washington. He is a Science Fiction and Fantasy enthusiast with a bachelor’s degree in Theater Arts, and he spends his time working with his fellows at Discovery Institute and raising his daughter who he suspects will one day be president of the United States. For more reviews as well as serial novels, go to www.garypaulvarner.com to read more.

The Matrix Revolutions (2003) Spins Out of Control