I enjoyed the movie for two main reasons, I liked the action and the story gave me a fair number of fun questions to puzzle out. Now to totally ruin the key surprise of Reloaded.
I'll start with my interpretation of the Architect's speech. Now I've gotten the impression a lot of people understood it to mean just what I understood it to mean, but said interpretation is not universal so I feel like posting it.
There have been three main versions of the matrix
1) Heaven. A perfect world, people hated it.
2) Fake earth, a close system. This was not accepted because too many people realized at some level that it wasn't real. However, they did not have the chance to choose between the illusion and the real world.
3) Fake earth, an open system. There have been six iterations (or reloads one might say) of this version, but the core nature remains the same. Many people still realize that at some level this is not real but do to the existence of Zion, the resistance movement, and hope for a messiah in the form of Neo, they are satisfied that a choice does exist. As a result, those who demand a choice are placated and only a certain percentage make the hard choice. What isn't widely known is that the machines have rigged the choice to be serving in the illusion or be annihilated.
So what exactly is the nature of the One/the anomaly? It is a mechanism of control that fixes the imbalance arising from those who do choose freedom. The systems of control to contain, but not destroy Zion (Agents and sentinels) are not quite up to the task, so the size of the revolution steadily rises. To be clear, I'm not talking about Neo's powers here. The lot of the preNeo revolutionary was not easy but Zion had been growing, simply at an order of magnitude slower, before Neo arrived. Also remember in the original movie that Cipher's trap was sprung on the return from the Oracle. Going to visit her was a risky move that would not be justified in the conventional conflict between revolutionaries and machines.
Interestingly, while the machines did not have the power to control the revolutionaries, they did have the power to annihilate Zion. If this seems contradictory then think about it for a minute, if it still seems contradictory you need to read the newspaper more. ;P
The one is a means of coopting the revolutionaries and allowing the system to be regularly reset without destroying it. The one has such power that he is a genuinely messianic figure who completely outclasses the regular systems of control. He has the power to do almost whatever he wants. However, while he makes the conventional fight much easier, despite his power there is not an obvious means for him to bring the entire system down. This is the reason for his uncertainty as to his purpose at the start of the movie. He is only granted a means to bring the system down once the threat of annihilation of Zion has been revealed. This is not a coincidence, it means he doesn't have time to question the process and the difficulty of the goal requires the total concentration of his efforts as well as the redirection of some resources from the real fight. As such both Neo, Morpheus, an obvious shining star of the revolution, and all of his followers are effectively coopted into the system.
Once the one has gone through the difficult process of realizing his purpose the nature of the trap is revealed. Yet there is still a choice. The one can reset the process or he can reject this mechanism of control and face the highly probably end of human kind.
So why such a damned elaborate mechanism? Why is the anomaly necessary? Why not just choose some schmoe and give him the choice or reset the system without offering a choice at all?
The One exists because the world of the Matrix has a very critical spiritual dimension. The choice is a real one even if it's framing in an elaborate and extremely clever deception. Neo is not immediately killed and does not lose his powers if he chooses to reject the ultimate mechanism of control. Instead the war continues with the revolutionaries strength augmented by one who retains his nigh messianic powers. I won't seek to address the question of his powers in the real world or perhaps the second level Matrix, as that's a bit complicated, won't be truly revealed until Revolutions, and I want to wrap this up.
To boil all this down, the nature of the multiple Matrixes makes three assertions about the nature of humankind.
1) We can not be truly and effectively subjugated without being offered the choice of freedom.
2) We can tell if that choice is real (even if we can't tell if the trappings are real)
3) For a large segment of human kind, that choice is best expressed in a messianic figure with powers far greater than ours, perhaps a nature different than ours, but who is still fundamentally one of us and on our side.
There are other important threads in the Matrix, but I believe this to be a key one. These three principles are asserted repeatedly in multiple ways in both the first and second movie, although I'll not defend that assertion at the moment as I'm done writing. If people disagree with me though, I'll happily cite examples to back it up.
I consider these to be interesting ideas, which is a good part of why I like the movie so much. I won't debate their implication, cause that's the sort of thing that's more fun to do in conversations than in LJ posts.