Writer/director Rodney Ascher’s A Glitch in the Matrix feels exactly like having a sprawling conversation about a big, goofy philosophical concept at a party. Except, everyone is stoned but you. And the few people who actually know what they’re talking about can’t get a word in edgewise. And only one woman was invited. Oh, and one of the people there is a literal murderer.
Hit reboot. Let’s start over: A Glitch in the Matrix feels like the worst party you’ve ever attended. It tackles the fascinating—and potentially dangerous—theory that we all live in a giant computer simulation. It does so in the dullest, most irresponsible ways possible.
It’s hard to think of a lazier approach than the one Ascher takes to the subject matter, inviting several rando dudes who sorta believe they’ve been Truman Show-ed to sit at their desks and ramble through thoroughly unoriginal, vastly simplistic takes on a notion so complicated it boggled Plato’s noggin. The documentary superimposes animation over many of the participants, who are indistinguishable from one another beyond that gimmick.
Archival footage of Philip K. Dick talking jibber-jabber about how he pierced the veil of reality is fine and dandy. Hearing Nick Bostrom, an academic, put forth the science-driven hypotheses that underscore serious consideration of the simulation theory is also okey dokey. Hey, did you know you can just read one of Dick’s books or Bostrom’s papers instead? Doing either of these would not expose you to a solid uninterrupted half-hour raving from someone who killed both of his parents.
Before the inclusion of Joshua Cooke, A Glitch in the Matrix was a simplistic sausage-fest that felt mildly engaging and fairly innocuous. When Ascher fully turns his film over to Cooke’s delusion, going so far as to kinda animate the actual crime, the doc goes from amateurish to “You can go to hell.” Striking a balance between giving a grotesque murderer a platform and responsibly exploring the implications of the philosophy he espouses is a nuanced, delicate task. Ascher basically made a fart noise and hit play on a tape recorder.
A Glitch in the Matrix disappoints in such a profound variety of ways, that it’s actually almost impressive. The thought that someone could approach a subject that has the Wachowskis’ film so close to its core without a meaningful discussion about Trans issues and how they may relate to the simulation theory is almost as irresponsible as, let’s say, giving a convicted double-murderer a half hour to freestyle.
Simulation theory has survived for millennia for a reason. The philosophy has a simultaneously unsettling and magnetically appealing character to it, such that it would take a great deal of effort to ruin an exploration of it. Thus, it isn’t actually fair to call Ascher’s film lazy. It is the premeditated murder of a wonderfully rich and vibrant focus of human curiosity. So maybe the whole Cooke thing makes sense after all?
Grade = D-