The “X” in “Project X” (1968) may well stand for the X in Matrix. In this story, set 150 years after 1968, Christopher George is a spy whose memory has been wiped clean after his capture by an Asian empire (led by Keye Luke). However, he has managed to transmit a message that the West will perish in 14 days. Henry Jones and his team of scientists are trying to get George’s subconscious to deliver the full meaning of what his message means. To do this they create a “matrix” of a concocted reality, set in 1968, so as to stimulate his mind. They call it a matrix too. It’s an illusory reality that George is immersed in and that they control.
This all takes place on an isolated farm that they build to replicate the past. But there are influences that threaten their plans. A co-passenger on the way back to America with George was Monte Markham, and they don’t know what happened to him. There’s a local factory and one of its pretty employees (Greta Baldwin) happens to wonder into George’s life. George himself doesn’t take readily to his newly-implanted memories.
The extensive special effects in the film are done well, making good use of color and double exposures. Mainly they involve our seeing into George’s subconscious and seeing action through an imaginative rendering that uses color, dark settings, what look like dendrites, fogginess, and overlapping images. There is one sequence in which George’s mind produces a red vortex. By delving into George’s subconscious, we are told the back story in Asia. The scientific gadgetry looks convincing and not cheap. The sci-fi spirit of making the science seem plausible is honored.
The future is not shown explicitly, but we get a taste of it in the character of Baldwin and her experiences. We see that there is really an authoritarian order in the West. Baldwin is assigned to a job in a factory that transforms dairy into food pills. People are divided into those who may have children and those who may not. The number of children is controlled. The factory working women all sleep in a big room. The matron is like a prison guard. We are told that crime has been eliminated, but at what cost, one wonders. Meanwhile, Harold Gould plays a very bossy member of the security establishment, and his word goes. Plus, the thing driving the whole plot is the enemy relation between West and East.