Director: Takeshi Koike
Writer: Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Sprinter Dan Davis is looking to reclaim his world record after being disqualified for failing a dope test in a previous race. A group of agents watches him from the crowd as the race begins.
The race starts and we see, in flashback, Dan’s interactions with various people in his life. He talks to a journalist who tells her that running at his top speed is like being in “zero gravity”. Later, his trainer begs him not to race because his muscles are “about to explode” and see, this is why I don’t run. The possibility of exploding.
Sure enough, Dan’s leg pops a gasket but he powers through the pain and is about to cross the finish line when runs so fast he breaks the Matrix.
So, basically, Dan Davis is like Cyberpunk 2077 and the Matrix just can’t run him. He wakes up in a pod in the Real World until a machine comes along and puts him back in the Matrix.
He arrives back just as he crosses the finish line and and sets a new world record. However, he’s been rendered near comatose by what he’s seen.
At the hospital, an agent reports in and says that Dan will never walk again, let alone run. Dan rises out of his wheelchair through sheer force of will and then begins to levitate into the air. He mutters the word: FREE.
How was it?
How was it?
It’s another “ordinary person discovers the Matrix” story and as such demands comparison with Kid’s Story. And it’s definitely the better of the two, with a far more compelling protagonist. And I say that despite this short’s narration going weirdly out of its way to dunk on the main character. I mean, this is what the narrator says. Just read this and tell me it doesn’t come across as really dismissive of Dan:
“Only the most exceptional people become aware of the Matrix. Those that learn it exists must posses a rare degree of intuition, sensitivity and a questioning nature. However, very rarely some gain this wisdom through wholly different means.”
The animation is certainly striking and makes the short stand out, even in the incredibly eclectic mix of styles that makes up the anthology. I do have criticisms though. Mostly, that the mouth animation is terrible. I don’t mean bad lip synching. I mean these characters are flapping their lips like fish on the floor of a boat. There’s one scene where Dan’s trainer is begging with him not to run and all I could think was:
As a piece of Matrix lore, World Record raises some interesting questions. Kid’s Story established that Popper was the first person to “self-substantiate” but…how is that different from what Dan does here (other than the fact that Dan didn’t need to throw himself off a building)? You could argue that Trinity and Neo just didn’t know about Dan (and true, he was plugged back into the Matrix immediately). But the narrator of this story is The Instructor, the same character who narrated The Second Renaissance, which would imply that this story is from the Zion archives meaning that Trinity should know about it. Also there’s the curious matter of the agents looking quite different from their movie counterparts. Less “Pissy Secret Service” and more “Bono in the seventies”
This, and the fact that the Matrix code Dan sees is red and not green, has led some fans to speculate that this story actually takes place in one of the earlier
Matrixs Matrixes Matrices the Architect told Neo about.