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Installed with particularly well-developed artificial intelligence, the machines rose up against their makers and won the battle for control of the world. Now, human beings are grown in labs and spend their lives been drained of their energy. Mankind has been enslaved, reduced to nothing but a massive battery to provide electrical power for its masters.
Keeping humanity docile – and therefore manageable – means the brain needs to be kept busy and amused. Thus, each human power cell is implanted with a virtual reality programme that makes the mind believe it is going about daily life, circa the early 21st century. Humanity springs eternal, however, and a small group of men and women have escaped the system and are plotting to regain their freedom.
Intelligent, politically astute and highly entertaining, ‘The Matrix’ is a brilliant pastiche of references to dystopic novels like ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ and ‘Brave New World’ and tropes borrowed from pop-culture items like ‘The Terminator’, as well as a liberal dose of contemporary cognitive theory. In our age of “the 1%” and the Panama Papers, its consideration of day-to-day reality as an illusory construct used to control the masses remains as relevant as ever.