June 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Book Review

Matrix Warrior: Being The One  
by Jake Horsley
  Gollancz  
2003; 232pp hb; £6.99 ; ISBN 0 575 07527 9
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matrix warrior

"Matrix Warrior" is an unofficial spin-off from "The Matrix" film series predicated on the notion that the story of the "original" 1999 film is literally true. Or metaphorically true. Its hard to tell, as at different points author Jake Horsley argues both ways. Either we are literally living in the virtual world postulated by "The Matrix", blissfully unaware that we are immersed in a collective dream, or we are plugging ourselves ever further into our technological modern world, divorcing ourselves from the natural reality of the earth and the social and moral consequences of our life-style. In which case time would be better spent reading Naomi Klein’s "No Logo" and William Blum’s "Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower".

Horsley’s text is written from a narrow cultural point of view. Like many young would-be English intellectuals he assumes religion is dead because it plays no part in his life. "…if religion wasn’t something that had been forever delegated to the ranks of the damned as "uncool"…"A statement which must come as bemusing news to billions of Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. Instead the author postulates "The Matrix"as a meta-myth, a myth about myth, then casually embraces the Gaia myth of a self-aware creator earth – "The Earth created humans and all other living creatures, presumably for its own good reasons…" And we have to ask on what basis is the presumption made that the earth is both sentient and of good intent? Why is this presumption more plausible or superior to any religion?

If we go back to the introduction we see where Horsley is coming from; a generation which having rejected everything else apparently has no recourse but to take meaning from movies, even if they are commercial products of the very "Matrix"he denounces. Which film is "…for younger generations at least, the holy book of our times."Not just another movie, but the greatest and most popular action movie ever made. (You can stop laughing now). Time for a reality check: "The Matrix"wasn’t even the most popular action film of 1999, lagging way behind "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace", while its inarguable that "Star Wars"(1977) is the most enduring popular action movie yet made. As for "The Matrix"being the best action movie ever made, apart from stopping on the biggest anti-climax in modern cinema, it is way too derivative of John Woo and James Cameron, who have each made many films which leave "The Matrix"standing. Play it last in a triple-feature with "Terminator 2: Judgement Day"(1992) and "Face/Off" (1997) and "The Matrix"is revealed as a derivative action-lite fanboy wannabe. Read "Simulacron-3"by Daniel F. Galouye (1964) and "A Dream of Wessex by Christopher Priest (1978) and its obvious the only thing "The Matrix"gave the world was "bullet time". In 1999 alone "Fight Club"delivered far more radical cinema questioning the nature of its protagonists reality.

But then we get to the heart of the matter. Just like the teenage SF telepathic power fantasy novels of old (for example James Blish’s "Jack of Eagles"), "The Matrix"plays best to socially disenfranchised male teenagers who do not have the skills, knowledge or power to make their mark on the world. Neo may be this generation’s Luke Skywalker or John Connor, but Jake Horsley merely uses "The Matrix’s"storyline as the basis for a messy rehash of alienated young man clichés better examined by Colin Wilson in "The Outsider"50 years ago. One might even suggest, taking the opportunity to be as partisan as "Matrix Warrior"itself, Mr Horsley could find some of those answers he seeks in places he so readily dismisses; SF writer CS Lewis’ "Mere Christianity"covers much the same ground with infinitely greater perception and lucidly. "Matrix Warrior"simply gives the reader a headache trying to decipher constantly contradictory, unsubstantiated and nonsensical arguments.

Gary Dalkin

No stars

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