WTFAW: The Matrix

Today, we’re talking about the famous (or infamous, as the case may vary) Matrix Trilogy. I’d give you a description of what it’s about, but if you don’t know, you must’ve lived under a rock for the last decade and a half.

In case you’re wondering why I’m not pointing out the logical flaws of this series, it’s simply because I don’t have time. The issues with the movies, from logical to scientific, to philosophical to basic writing, are so numerous, you’d need a team of Travises (Travisae…? Travisii…?) working day and night for a week to catalogue them all. And I sure as hell don’t want or need a “The Matrix Chronicles” on this site.

Instead, we will deal with something that, by comparison, is smaller in scale, while still providing more than enough material for me to get annoyed about.

In other words, a fan theory.

Dave, if you’d be so kind.

Dave: Right! The theory I’ve got for you today is that Smith is the one!

That’s it? I thought that was kind of the point of the movies, you know, to show the similiarity between Neo and Smith.

Dave: No, you don’t get it! Neo isn’t the one. Smith is.

Aaah, now I see why you brought it to me. For a moment I thought this would be a short post and I’d have to agree with you. But enough veiled insults at your crap taste in theories. Let’s hear the arguments.

Dave: Well, you remember when Morpheus tells Neo about the prophecy in the movie?

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 – As long as the Matrix exists, the human race will never be free. After he died, the Oracle prophesied his return, and his coming would hail the destruction of the Matrix, end the war, bring freedom to our people

Dave: All of that applies more to Smith than it does to Neo. First that Neo wasn’t born in the Matrix. He was born in the real world. Second, Smith does more to reshape the Matrix than Neo does. And the reason the Matrix was destroyed was because of Smith’s actions.

Is that all?

Let’s go through this and I’ll explain why the theory doesn’t hold up.

First of all, Neo WAS born in the Matrix, as much as any human can be “born” in the matrix. Before being freed by Morpheus, He had never experienced the real world. He was born plugged into the Matrix.

Dave: Exactly! Smith WAS born in the Matrix, because he is a PROGRAM! He was there when the Matrix started, which makes him more likely to be The One.

So you’re suggesting that Smith freed the first humans and told them the truth? And then decided to start killing them? Would you care to explain the reasoning to that?

Dave: Uhm… Well, Neo wasn’t there either! Are you suggesting he freed the first humans?

Not at all. The problem is that you’re missing a small detail, like usual. Either that or you’re chosing to ignore it. Namely that Smith is still alive.

Dave: So what?

Morpheus clearly stated that the “Man born in the Matrix” died. Smith is still here, and has clearly been here since at least the beginning of this “version” of the Matrix. I’ll come back to this, but this ties into the basis of The One and the Prophecy itself.

Now, for the next part, with Smith supposedly reshaping the Matrix. You’re saying Neo doesn’t?

Dave: Well, Neo fights well and flies. That’s it. Smith changes the whole Matrix by the end.

Oh sure. Neo only fights well and flies… And, you know… seeing the actual code of the Matrix, flying in itself is basically giving gravity the middle finger and what else… Oh, that’s right. He STOPS BULLETS IN MID AIR! He dove into Smith and made him explode! He reached INTO TRINITY’S BODY and retrieved a bullet without causing a wound, and then RESTARTED HER HEART!

Do those things not count as “Reshaping the Matrix”?

See, either he is the One, which allows him to do these things, or he’s NOT the One, in which case ALL humans can do this, but for some reason choose not to.

Which one do you think is more likely?

Dave: Uhm…

I thought so.

As for Smith’s abilities, he himself speculates this is because when Neo destroyed him, something changed him. He doesn’t seem to know what, exactly, but whatever it was compelled him to disobey and refuse to be deleted. Instead he went rogue. And as he states, this is because of Neo. This makes Neo the cause of anything Smith does after that point, albeit indirectly.

And thirdly, there’s the idea that Smith destroyed the Matrix.

Dave: Well, the idea of the One is that he is supposed to reinsert the prime program. When Smith infected Neo in the end of the Third Movie, he did exactly that, since Neo was connected directly to the Source. This caused them all to explode!

What!? Is that what you think that was? That wasn’t Smith disseminating the code. Smith infected Neo and overwrote him. Since Neo was hardwired to the machine interface, this allowed the machines to delete Smith. THAT is what caused the Smiths to explode. If the entire Matrix was restarting, the entire world would be destroyed. But all that happened was that the Smiths were destroyed.

You follow?

Dave: I suppose…

And then, of course, there’s the main problem with all this.

See, you hold out the prophecy as a fact, as something supernatural or ordained by God. but in reality, it’s neither.

Dave: What?

It’s a bit complicated, and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I’ll explain it as best I can.

The matrix is not designed to accept people rejecting the program. But the only way for the program to function at all is to give the humans a choice, even if it’s subconcious, to either accept or reject it. This contradiction creates an anomaly that, in time increases the chance of system failure.

The One is the eventual result. He becomes a proxy for all the people rejecting the program. The coming extermination of Zion forces him to find the Architect. Faced with the choice of resetting the system or cause the end of the human race, he is supposed to choose the former. By doing this, he “Accepts” the matrix, which negates the previous rejections. The Matrix is then reloaded, the process starts over and the One is tasked with picking out 23 individuals from within the Matrix to rebuild Zion.

When he eventually dies, the Oracles prophecies his return, and with time, another anomaly is created and the whole process repeats.

The legend of the One being born in the Matrix is based on the fact that he was there before Zion was, which to the 23 people he retrieves from The Matrix is true. Remember, they don’t know there was a Zion before this. To them, there was nobody to free him, which means he must have been “Born in the Matrix” and he then “freed the first of us and taught us the truth”.

That is all “The One” is. He isn’t the savior and liberator of the human race. He isn’t destined to destroy the Matrix. He’s a tool for the Matrix to continue existing. The whole “messiah” thing was just a lie so that people will keep repeating the cycle. After all, we know there have been five “One’s” before Neo and yet the Matrix is still around.

Really, the fact that Neo met the Architect should be enough to prove that he is The One.

Dave: Aha! But the Oracle created the One! And she outright said that Neo wasn’t the One! She knew that Smith was the One all along. And when Smith meets the Oracle, he calls her “Mom”.

I admit that you are right about Smith calling the Oracle “mom”. However, seeing as The Architect says that if He is the father of the Matrix, the Oracle is its mother, one could argue that the Oracle is technically the “mother” to ALL programs in the Matrix.

But more importantly, the Oracle saying Neo wasn’t the One was in the first movie. In the third movie, Neo asked what Smith was. The oracle answered

He is you, your opposite, your negative, the result of the equation trying to balance itself out

Dave: so what, you’re suggesting they’re BOTH the One?

Well, yes and no. It depends on what you mean with “The One”. On the one hand you have The One, as described by Morpheus, i.e The liberator of humanity who’ll end the war. On the other, you have The One as defined by The Architect (and I use the term “defined” very loosely), the Integral Anomaly caused by a fundamentally flawed system.

If it’s the former, then the answer is Yes. They are both the One. Two sides of the same coin. Neo was the only one able to get close enough to the machines to make the bargain with them, and Smith was the one who made them desperate enough to accept the deal. As such, they were both required to free humanity and ending the war with the machines.

If it’s the latter, then No, Smith is not the One. Of course, one could make the perfectly valid argument that when Neo went after Trinity, he ceased to be the One as well.

Either way, the theory that Smith is the One and Neo isn’t doesn’t hold up.

Unsurprising, really. Bring me a theory as stupid as this, and this result is not only likely but, as Smith himself put it…

It is inevitable

 

Back to Main Page

Con Air

Gather round, boys and girls! It’s time for another history lesson!

In 1997, before he produced the critically acclaimed “Pirates of the Carribean”, Jerry Bruckheimer produced the movie Con Air, starring Nicholas Cage.

This concludes the history lesson.

Anyway, Con Air is a fairly straightforward action movie where some convicts take control of an aerial prison transport, with the plan being to escape the country after receiving a reward for releasing a crime boss going on the airplane. Of course, since plans are made to go tits up, among the prisoners is our hero Nicholas Cage playing Cameron Poe, ex-military parolee on his way to see his family after 10 years in prison. Action, highjinks and lots of violence ensues.

Just your average action movie, basically. Good action, simple story and good actors such as John Malkovich, Danny Trejo, John Cusack, Nicholas Cage and Steve Buscemi.

So, why am I writing about this movie, you may ask?

Well, to answer that, let’s go over the villains of the piece, shall we?

See, the convicts in the movie is a gang of misfits, such as mass murderer William “Billie Bedlam” Bedford, Serial rapist Johnny “23” (three guesses for what the number refers to), Black Guerilla leader Nathan “Diamond Dog” Jones and of course, Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom, the criminally insane kidnapper, mass murderer, extortionist and (of course) highly educated man who obviously is the main antagonist. And to really drive that point home, he’s played by John Malkovich.

All well and good.

But then, about a third into the movie, we’re introduced to Garland Greene.

And you know, right away, this is going to be something else. Why?

See, it all begins with a huge prison truck, seemingly with enough armor to withstand a collision with a sherman tank rolling up, two guards insert a pair of keys nuclear-silo style, and Garland Greene, dressed almost from head to toe in restrictive gear, chains and a big muzzle covering his mouth, is led onto the plane after being released from the specially made chair he’s strapped into.

The reason for the getup is that he singlehandedly killed 37 people across the country, in a way that would “Make the Manson family look like the Partridge family”. Oh, and he also killed a little girl and drove through three states “Wearing her head as a hat”.

And of course, it turns out he is also very intelligent, and a bit of a philosopher, considering “insanity” to merely be a matter of semantics, with killing 37 people and turning them into clothes being no more insane than willingly work yourself half to death and die in a retirement home wearing an adult diaper.

Basically, he’s a proxy for Hannibal Lecter, apart from the latters taste for opera, art and human flesh.

And to truly cement the creepiness of him, they have him played by Steve Buscemi.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Steve Buscemi is awesome. But he has a very distinct appearance which, coupled with him speaking very calmly and looking almost serene throughout the movie makes him very unnerving to watch. Which, seeing as he’s playing a serial killer, is a good thing.

So, what is my problem, exactly?

Well, I’ll sum it up with one simple question.

Why is Garland Greene in this movie?

He has NO purpose in the movie. If you cut him out, all you’d miss is him having a tea party with a little girl. They spend his whole introduction all but spelling out that out of all of the convicts, he’s the worst one. He’s the only one warranting the leather harness and face mask. He’s the only one who gets the mechanised chair with the nuclear silo lock…

And then they do fucking NOTHING with him!

He doesn’t help or has any respect for the other convicts, thinking they’re idiots, his “what is sanity” speech is wasted on Poe, who’s motivation is firmly to return to his family and save his friend throughout the movie, he meets up with a random little girl and, despite having no problem with murdering before this, decides to just leave her alone.

It’s not like he was inspired by Poe to become a better person, since he’s a fucking homocidal maniac who WORE A CHILDS HEAD AS A HAT! Nick Cage going “Killing people is crazy” ain’t going to fucking change that kind of insanity!

So you go through the entire movie, with the worst thing Garland does being annoying Poe and singing “He’s got the whole world in his hands”.

And in the end, the convicts are killed, the day is saved, Poe returns to his family and everyone is happy…

And then we cut to a Las Vegas casino, with Garland Greene standing by a craps table, enjoying a fancy drink and living the high life, before we fade out to the end credits, accompanied by “Sweet Home Alabama”.

It’s held out as a nice little wink to the audience, that “all’s well that ends well”…

Except… you know… Garland Greene is running around Las Vegas! As in, the man who killed 37 people! He turned a schoolgirl into a fucking fashion accessory! This is a horrible fucking ending! The worst convict of the lot FUCKING GOT AWAY, and is running around free in LAS FUCKING VEGAS!

THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING!

Call me a conservative fool, but I like to think that in an action movie, you want it pretty clean cut that bad guys lose and good guys win. Hell, that’s the reason Danny Trejo dies so often in movies! Whenever he plays a bad guy in a movie, he dies or gets arrested! This is because as an ex gang member, he wants to show people that this is what happens to bad people!

But then the movie goes “Oh, but this guy gets a happy ending, even though he was worse than all of them”.

What fucking sense does that make?!

You know what would have been interesting? I mean REALLY interesting?

If Garland Greene is brought onto the plane, Cyrus releases him because he thinks his cult-of-personality will be enough to control Greene… and Garland instantly jabs a fucking pen into Cyrus’ throat and takes over the role of main antagonist. Instead of criminal mastermind with a plan to escape to mexico, we get a complete fucking psycho who has no plan whatsoever and doesn’t give a single fuck.

Maybe this is just me, but that sounds much more interesting. I’m not sure exactly how you’d resolve that or where the story would go from there, but wherever it is would be better than “introduce super interesting character and then have him do nothing”.

Hell, even if the ending wasn’t stupid from a writing perspective, it’s makes no fucking sense according to internal logic either!

Because Garland Greene, the “Marietta Mangler” is standing in a casino in Las Vegas, one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world, not wearing a disguise, no dark glasses, not even a changed fucking hairstyle…

AND NOBODY RECOGNIZES HIM!

If you kill someone, you end up on the news. If you kill 10 people, you’re making national fucking headlines. If you killed 37 people, there wouldn’t be a news channel on the planet which wouldn’t broadcast your face day and night for the entirety of your trial and about six years after!

You wouldn’t be able to stand in Las Vegas for five minutes before someone called the fucking cops! Especially when the prison escort you were on crashed in Las Vegas and they NEVER FOUND YOUR BODY!

If you killed 37 people, the police wouldn’t just shrug and go “he’s probably dead”if they didn’t find your corpse in the wreckage. I don’t know exactly what they’d do, but I like to think “Martial Law” is among the first steps.

And not only is this stupid on those two levels, but you’re wasting Steve Buscemi! All you had him do was stand around, look creepy and sing a bit! What the hell is wrong with you! The man was in Reservoir Dogs, god damnit!

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got for this movie.

If there are any lessons to be learned from this, it’d be this: If you’re writing a story, don’t introduce an interesting element, such as Steve Buscemi playing Hannibal Lecter and then do nothing with it!

Class dismissed!