I still remember the first time I saw The Matrix. I was so enamored by its special effects and premise. My infatuation with this movie, at least in the beginning, was rooted in the concept of the superior protagonist. It comes as no surprise since I have always gravitated toward these types of movies (Good Will Hunting, Star Wars, Rounders, Beautiful Mind, etc.).
But as the years grew, my reflection on the Matrix has shifted toward viewing it as a huge metaphor for religion. It has been called a messiah movie in the past, but that's quite the conundrum actually. Neo is considered the savior of the world, and he is. But the term "savior" automatically drums up images of Christ. So, is Neo, the miracle man inside the matrix, a metaphor for Christ? The filmmakers go so far as to have him die in the end for his cause, and have him dragged through the matrix (after he dies) spread like he's mounted to a cross.
But the crux of my reflection comes when Morpheus, (the god of dreams, by the way) finds Neo (an anagram for the One) and tells him he has been living in a dream world, aka the matrix, aka a world where fear and faith rule and the rulers use humans for their well-being. "We are all slaves," Morpheus tells Neo. In the movie, the machines use the heat and energy generated from humans to run their world, enslaving them against their will or knowledge, not unlike the church using humans' fear of death and the unknown to fuel their empire and line their coffers with blood money.
The matrix is an altered reality, preying on the imperfect mind, which is so easily manipulated when faced with crisis. It's perfect mind control, not unlike religion, which shackles the minds of humans to control them and obtain power. Logic loses in a religious world.
Machines (Christians) do everything they can to squash the rebel movement (atheists). I find it humorous to compare machines to the righteous because isn't that a perfect analogy? The righteous are on a mission, to spread their word to as many people as possible, whether you want to hear it or not, just like the sentient agents, whose job is to search the matrix for any dissenters and eliminate them.
But what's the conundrum? Well, The Matrix is a metaphor about the control religion has on humans, yet it ironically implements the savior concept to free these humans. "You're my savior, man. My own personal Jesus Christ," said Choi in the beginning of the first movie in a bit of foreshadowing.
When Neo takes the red pill, he is accepting logic and reason because he knows something isn't right with the way the world is, with the way we think. He's agnostic toward the matrix, and Morpheus shows him the truth. I suppose Morpheus could be seen as a John the Baptist, and after their encounter Neo falls into a lake of dirty water, baptizing him into the real world.
You'll also notice when they are in the matrix there is a green tint, which would represent the blind faith pulled over their eyes, and green of course is the color of the money the church rakes in while you are under its spell. Only when Neo emerges in the real world do we see through our own rational eyes the beautiful blue tint, perhaps a tip to the big blue marble or the fact that he has been washed clean (baptized) of the matrix.
Neo's name in the matrix is Thomas Anderson, which is loaded with religious symbolism. Neo doubts he is the (Chosen) One, hence doubting Thomas, but the real Messiah metaphor is derived from his last name, which in the New Testament means Son of Man, aka Christ. And since Neo means "new" that would mean he's the new Son of Man.
But the messiah metaphor continues. Neo dies in the first Matrix movie, killed by the agents, but is resurrected. And once he is alive again, he has complete control over the matrix and its agents, just like Christ said he was given all authority of heaven and earth.
Other religious overtones:
Cypher is Judas, betraying Neo and his "disciples" by turning over Morpheus to the agents. Cypher means zero and his opposite is Neo, which is an anagram for one, just like in binary code where 1s and 0s make up everything in a computer world. Good vs. evil.
Trinity, the name of Neo's love interest, is a religious term that refers to the father, the son and the holy spirit.
The Oracle prophesied the coming of the One, just like in Isaiah.
Terms such as Zion and Nebuchadnezzar are used.
So, while these metaphors are prevalent throughout the Matrix movies (Neo brings people back from the dead, he ascends into a higher place by flying, radiates white light on numerous occasions), the original movie stands as the definitive model for religion's grip on the weak-minded. And I find it interesting that Neo is called the system's anomaly, the one who is different from the rest, who blindly follow the matrix.
The end of the movie wraps up my analogy quite well. Neo is on a phone talking to the agents, and he says, "I know you're out there. I can feel you now. I know that you're afraid. You're afraid of us. You're afraid of change. I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin. I'm going to hang up this phone and then I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you, a world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries, a world where anything is possible. Where we go from there, is a choice I leave to you."