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Zion Isn’t Worth the Fight in “The Matrix” Sequels

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For all of its breathless, repetitive assertions that Keanu Reeves is a cyberpunk messiah, The Matrix is probably as close to a Star Wars caliber sci-fi classic as we’ve been able to get in the last decade. But as fervent as fan boys are about The Matrix, almost everyone agrees that The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions pale in comparison.

I’ve always detested the sequels as much as I loved the original, but last night, after rewatching The Matrix, I decided to throw caution to the winds by following them up with the second and third film. Much like a Confederate soldier slugging back whiskey to face the imminent amputation of a cannonball-shattered limb, I had a couple of drinks and watched all three movies back to back. And I had a minor epiphany as to why the sequels just didn’t work for me: Zion just isn’t worth fighting for.

I always knew I didn’t like the part of the Matrix sequels set in Zion, but I’d never really bothered to actually think about it. After last night’s viewing, it suddenly dawned on me: The problem with Zion is it simply isn’t worth saving. It epitomizes Cypher’s argument in the original Matrix that, if he’d known what was outside the Matrix, he’d have told Morpheus to cram that blue pill.

What is Zion, after all? It’s the dank butthole of the Earth filled with rotting machinery and smelly ravers who literally eat their own excrement. Even the Wachowski Brothers seem to realize it isn’t worth fighting for: The two Matrix sequels deftly contradict the first film by making Neo’s entire heroic journey not about actually destroying the machines but to return the Matrix to the status quo and allow the vast majority of humanity to continue living as atrophied fetuses blissfully ignorant of the horrors of the future.

Of course, there’s more to what undermines the sequels. While the first film works as an allegory for a fairly straight-forwarded philosophical idea (Descartes’ central problem: How do I know I’m not just a soul trapped in a jar by a demon trickster?), the subsequent films are a morass of idiotic pseudo-philosophical gobbledygook. And ultimately, it all comes down to Zion as just a smelly, worthless sleaze pit. Humanity would be better off crawling back into the Matrix and as a last act, nuking Zion from orbit.

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