Reloading The Matrix: Is Mr. Smith Sovereign?

The remarkable cultural impact of the Matrix trilogy appears to have faded. Apart from the occasional commercial that parodies the technologically innovative fight sequences of the Matrix, the popular hype has settled. However, the sub-popular influence still remains for “real” Matrix fans.

We still find ourselves compelled to occasionally check out the website or throw in Reloaded just to catch one more insight or relish the Burly Brawl once again. I found myself reloading this weekend. Under the guise of ‘checking out my computer speakers’ I loaded Reloaded and watched the first 15 minutes, which contains two pretty impressive fight scenes, a insightful Morpheus monologue and a hoaky flight by Neo, courtesy of CGI. Nevertheless, it was entertaining, engaging and insightful. I found myself observing the periphery rather than the center of the screen, looking for well-placed Wachowski nuances…

Pretty cool. Remember the scene when Smith visits the clandestine meeting of the Zion rebels in the matrix to deliver his earpiece to Neo through the slit in a metal door and then walks off? Well, he pulls up in an Audi with the following license plate: IS 5416 . So, I thought to myself, “What the hec, I’ll check the reference to Isaiah 54.16.” This is what I read: “?Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the coals and brings out a weapon for its work; and I have created the destroyer to ruin.” Pretty savvy huh? The question is, what does it mean?

Of course, there is the obvious connection with “Smith” as the blacksmith of Isaiah. Is this just a superficial connection or is there a deeper theological meaning? Are we meant to perceive that Smith is an instrument of destruction in the hands of a sovereign God? If so, where is God in the trilogy? Neo dies or does he? The Eastern concept of balancing cosmic good and evil figures prominently in Revolutions in which universal harmony between the machine and human worlds is secured through the sacrifice of the One (a supernatural figure from the Hindu Vedas). Is this reference just another part of the Wachowski postmodern pastiche? How does IS 5416 figure into our theodicy, our theology of suffering? Does it offer more or less hope than the solution offered by the Matrix? Thoughts? Click on the comment link below.