“Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.”
If I had to sum up my feelings about this film in a short phrase, this line from the trailer probably comes closest. “The Matrix” is a terrific film, one of the rare ones that successfully mixes intelligent concepts with jaw-dropping action and effects. Thomas “Neo” Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is a software designer cum hacker who is plagued by disturbing occurrences that are hard for him to merely pass off as mere nightmares. In search for an answer to his questions, he encounters the mysterious “Morpheus” (Laurence Fishburne) and his band of rebels who try to convince Neo that the world as he knows it is little more than an elaborate computer simulation, and that Neo is “the One”—a liberator prophesied to free humanity from its bondage to a malevolent AI.
From a creative standpoint, “The Matrix” is absolutely stunning. It is easily the most stylish movie I have seen in ages (“Dark City,” “Face/Off,” and “Blade” included). Despite drawing from such eclectic sources as “Alice in Wonderland,” the Bible, Hong Kong action cinema, and all manners of science-fiction, noire, and westerns, the film still feels amazingly fresh. The darkly stunning visuals, terrific sound design and music all add tremendously. The performances are great, and even Keanu Reeves did a fine job, though granted, his role isn’t a tremendously challenging one. If the movie fails anywhere, it is in some of the dialogue, which is occasionally cheesy, and lapses into Buddhist psycho-babble sometimes. That said, I found much of the screenplay to be very intelligent, with touches of profound truth and dry humor mixed into it.
From a Christian perspective, “The Matrix” is a mixed bag. The basic story is one of a Messiah come to save an enslaved humanity. However, worked in among this story is a touch of Eastern religion, a fair amount of profanity (including using Christ’s name), and a heavy dose of violence. While I felt the violence was not necessarily gratuitous, be warned: it is occasionally very graphic, and parents would do well to note that this is NOT for the younger teen audience. Some might find the film’s premise of a “fake reality” somehow offensive, but in my opinion, it is an intriguing idea, maybe a warning to our increasingly on-line culture, but not anti-Christian in any way. In short, I would highly recommend this film to those not likely to be offended by the language and violence. It is a piece of terrific film-making; one of the most exhilarating and interesting blockbusters I have seen. I can’t really say more… “You have to see it for yourself.”
the message that God, the Supreme One is beyond all of the little skirmishes of religions and the resurrected Son of God will set it all straight
the message that the Son could not touch the bride until he had ascended to the Father
the message of the one remaining city for celebration—Zion, of all places
the realization that faith transcends the barriers of our physical dimension reality
the message of spiritual warfare in dodging and eventually stopping and overcoming the bullets of the enemy as we reach that level of maturity…
…The Christian message is so heavily represented. The whole creation travails and moans waiting for the liberation of the sons of God that it too might share in that liberation from the bondage of decay. The call of liberty is extraordinarily moving. —Terry LeRoy Crable
…the biblical names like the heroine, Trinity, who loves our messiah back to life
I could write about the John the Baptist
…The Peter figure, Morpheus, who looks for/believes-in the messiah
…the very obvious Judas figure, Cypher, who didn’t want to take the risk of believing that Neo was “the one” and so he sold out to the agents (the religious leaders, the keepers of the rules) because he thought that simulated reality might be just as good.
…the messiah figure, Neo, and how he had to be incarnate in the matrix, how he was chosen, how he supposedly laid down his life, and how he came back to life to triumph.
But these and other allusions (Zion, Babylon, and others) seems obvious, and there are some ones that are far more interesting to me.
In talking to other Christians about the movie and reading reviews from particularly Christian sources, I was totally amazed at the range of responses. The majority of them were enthusiastic about it, even enough to call it “A parable of the Gospel in modern-day language” (God have mercy). Those that critiqued it tended to be concerned mainly with the violence and what they termed the “Eastern mumbo-jumbo.”
While I think it is possible to glean some good from this movie, particularly the basic message that the majority of us are blind to the fact that we are slaves to the world-system and in need of liberation to the truth, I am far more critical of some subtler messages. Disharmony with the gospel/icons.
The first concern I have is the means of salvation that is offered. While everyone is babbling about the obvious messiah images in the movie, nobody seems to have anything to say about what exactly the “good news” is that’s offered. Jesus taught that the way of salvation was offered through recognizing our sin and weakness, and turning from it to God—trusting him to forgive and strengthen us. There is no work, even faith which is a gift, that can save us. It was his own humble weakness and self-sacrifice, his love showing and providing the way, that brought salvation—even conquering our sin and death. However, this is not the way that Neo images to the audience. —Leif H.