The aptly-named Morpheus once offered the unsuspecting world, through the eyes of the aptly-named Neo, a choice. Two different pills. Two different colors. Blissful ignorance, or adventuresome-albeit-painful truth. And that truth? That the world we have come to know is an illusion of the highest order.
Everyone knows what happened next in that tale. Truth was decided upon and a whole lot of kung-fu was unleashed.
Title: A Glitch in the Matrix (2021) Director: Rodney Ascher Writer: Rodney Ascher Studio: Magnolia Pictures IMDb Plot: Documentary filmmaker Rodney Ascher tackles the question "are we living in a simulation?" with testimony, philosophical evidence and scientific explanation in his quest for the answer. Joe Says: An interesting-enough "What If...?" but A Glitch in the Matrix fails to answer its own questionable thesis statement.
Twenty-ish years later, parts of that tale have taken on a life of their own as documentarian Rodney Acsher’s latest movie dives into the rabbit hole of “Simulation Theory”, the belief that reality is strictly virtual. Acsher might not subscribe to the simulation theory dogma but brings credence – and an avenue – to those who want to believe.
Unlike the wandering that made the doc Room 237 an exercise in patience rather than a distracting discourse, in A Glitch In The Matrix, Rodney Acsher arranges tighter stories from unique individuals who conspire that all of reality is nothing more than a generous computer simulation. Acsher chomps down on that red pill and willingly dives deep. However, Acsher leaves both his stars and the story itself dangling in the digital ether with no closure to his thesis.
What if we are living in a simulation, and the world as we know it is not real? To tackle this mind-bending idea, A Glitch In The Matrix intercuts personal stories from hypothesis subscribers alongside a noted speech from science-fiction author Philip K. Dick (Total Recall, Blade Runner) recorded in the Seventies. All with an attempt – without proof obviously – to present that all of life is a video game being played by some unknowable entity. If, then, life is but a dream, humanity’s call of purpose must be questioned. To a lesser extent, this discovery is played with, but such reasoning is merely amateurish and the repetitive nature of the storytellers dissolve any such credence in their shallow pool of Kool-Aid.
The doc uses contemporary cultural touchstones to feed recognition of the theory. The Matrix is highly relied upon along with sci-fi b-reels such as The Thirteenth Floor and Virtuosity. Dick’s address is flaunted as compelling, but even that dated footage is a lackluster exhibit from the defense.
Each main testimony is told with individualized and downright decent animation further broadening the documentary’s simulation theory thesis. Each flavor is unique, balancing on that computer-generated line of the corporeal and the conceptualized, or fantasized.
In a fanciful move, Acsher’s key witnesses are all replaced with computer simulacra. And why not? If life is a controlled game then it is best to maintain that illusion with what we want, not what we are.
Less fanciful is the sickening account of Joshua Cooke, who murdered his parents under the belief that he was living in the Matrix.
Granted, simulation theory is a difficult subject. Those believers are honest and sincere and to their credit, not preachy.
Simulation theory can all too easily be presented as laughable. And Acsher had every opportunity to go full-on geek-bashing, but he didn’t. The tenets of the movie are just and fair. However, the documentary was pure speculation. Fanciful stories were told again and again. Stories about bizarre encounters and unexplained phenomena that could have been about UFOs, the Mothman, or Santa Claus. Zero proof was entered. And how could there be? This is all theory. More surprising? No rebuttals were presented. And no definitive resolution received. The stories told quickly get repetitive to the point where they become background static.
A Glitch In The Matrix is nothing more than an amusing “what if” that gives hope to the Millennial faithless and provides sci-fi sounding answers to those seeking more from their universe.
And with a lot less kung-fu.