The Matrix is an all time favourite. This film changed everything about filmmaking when it came down to visual effects. Tonnes of people walked into theatres, had their brains thrown into a knot and jaws pinned to the floor. The movie was truly a turning point for all Science Fiction films to follow. While the visuals remaining stunning till date, the depth and thought around the story and execution remains one of the most amazing concepts. Occasionally a movie comes around and makes us question our own reality, The Matrix did just that. The actors Keanu Reeves, Carrie Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving play the lead roles and the brilliance was all brought together by the then Wachowski Brothers (now, The Wachowskis – some things never change but some things do). This is Matrix simplified and explained.
A lot of requests came in for the explanation of this film and the full series. So I figured I’d start from the beginning. Unfortunately, no one can be…told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. Once you’ve done so, continue reading – spoiler alert!
The Matrix Plot Explained – Quick Version
The events of the movie are happening in the year close to 2199. All the parts of the movie that appear to be the regular 1999 is not real. It is only a computer simulated program that has been created to enslave the human race. This computer simulation is called The Matrix.
Who’s created this simulation, The Matrix?
Machines, with Artificial Intelligence.
Who created this Artificial Intelligence?
The humans, in the early 21st century.
Why does AI enslave mankind?
Well, you’re going to have to read the detailed explanation for this one. The short version is that the humans and AI had a fall out. AI eventually saw humans as a threat to their existence. With humans plugged into The Matrix, the AI could tap into bioelectricity that the human body produces. Humans are used as a source of electrical and heat energy by the machines. The humans plugged into the Matrix don’t realize they are in a simulated dream and sleep through their entire lives.
And then …
There are a group of people in the real world who are free from the Matrix. This group is the Resistance. Morpheus and his team are one such group in the resistance. Morpheus has been consulting a person called the Oracle and freeing select people from the Matrix. The movie begins with Neo being freed from the Matrix. The Oracle has told Morpheus that he will find a person in the Matrix who will not be bound by its rules. They refer to this person as The One. Morpheus believes Neo is The One and Neo will help bring down the Matrix.
As the plot unfolds, Neo begins to display more abilities that hint that he indeed could be The One. Trinity has been told by the Oracle that she will fall in love with The One. She finds herself falling in love with Neo. As the climax approaches, Morpheus gets captured because Cypher takes the side of the AI and sabotages the mission. Neo and Trinity go in and save Morpheus from the Agents.
The Agents are the gatekeepers of the Matrix, their job is to kill intruders like Morpheus and his team. They capture Morpheus and try to get to the location of Zion so all the free humans can be destroyed. Neo and Trinity save Morpheus. As they exit, Agent Smith intervenes and a fight ensues between him and Neo. Agents are computer programs and hence are highly powerful and fast. Human minds are more bound by the laws of physics the Matrix enforces. Neo’s mind is quite strong and he’s able to stand toe to toe against Smith. But there is no killing Smith as he’s a program and will just spawn into another “plugged-in” human.
After a chase sequence, Smith shoots Neo in the Matrix. Neo’s mind believes that he’s been shot. His heart stops. He’s not yet dead. Trinity tells Neo that the Oracle told her she would fall in love with The One. She tells Neo that she loves him. But if that were the case, The One can’t be dead. Neo’s mind had not yet become completely free. His near death experience and Trinity’s guiding voice unlocks his mind completely. He wakes up as The One and destroys Smith’s code.
The movie ends with Neo talking to The Matrix and saying that he’s eventually going to free everyone’s mind that is connected to the Matrix. He flies away after that. He’s no longer bound by any rules of the Matrix. The film ends. Honestly, you should not stop here. There are so many amazing little things the movie offers. Do read the detailed explanation.
The Matrix Plot Explained : Detailed Version
Let’s take a step back into what really happened in the world in the early 21st century. This information is from the series called The Animatrix which takes a deep dive into what really happened. Do watch The Second Renaissance Part 1 & 2. These short animated films were released much after The Matrix. A synopsis from this is important to know as it is very consistent with the movie(s).
In the early 21st century, man develops AI – Artificial Intelligence. They initially create a series of humanoid bots that are meant to do household work for humans. The bots were content doing this and humans got lazier and more corrupt. In 2090, one of such bots kills its owner. The bot pleads that it was in self defence and that it didn’t want to die. Humans pass a ruling saying that the bots are not entitled to the same rights as humans, that humans had the rights to destroy their property and not the other way around. Humanity is split at this point – some stand up for Robot rights and the others see them as mere ‘living tissue over metal endoskeleton’. However, the bot is sentenced and is destroyed. Other bots and human supporters raise against this and protest. This event is seen as a Rise of the Machines and it is ordered for all bots to be destroyed. The surviving bots along with supporting humans find exile in a new nation they call Zero One. Zero One prospers and they develop further generations of AI. The remaining human nations suffer. The UN approves of a global economic blockade of Zero One. Two representatives are sent over from Zero One to figure a peaceful solution. Humans retort by using full nuclear force on Zero One. This turns out to be a bad move as the bots are impervious to the human weapons. Zero One strikes back. An interesting thing here is there are enough humans fighting on the side of the bots. Human nations are defeated one at a time.
In desperation, humans decide to scorch the sky – “Operation Dark Storm”. Machines need solar energy for power. Blocking the sun will cut off their power supply. After this, humans attack again. But this is not good enough. The Bots still get the upper hand and begin to move to a more sentinel based design. They stop looking human. They continue winning the war. Humans get more desperate and use nukes which causes the deaths of their own armies. The machines use biological weapons and humans are brought to their knees. The humans on the side of the machines volunteer to be plugged into a simulated dream state to escape the horrors of their reality. This is symbiotic as machines can draw power from the sleeping humans while the humans sleep in a state of bliss. As more human nations surrender, they are plugged into this virtual world and used as a power source. UN is forced to sign a treaty after which the remaining human leaders are blown up, just in case, and the war ends. The surviving humans are all plugged into a new and improved version of the Virtual Reality that gets called The Matrix.
The Matrix Film
The movie and its events are happening about a hundred years after this war. The entire Human race is used for power supply. Their bodies are asleep and their minds are plugged into the Matrix. The Matrix is a virtual world that has been pulled over their minds to hide them from the truth – they are slaves now. Humans are grown, the dead are liquefied and fed to the living intravenously.
Morpheus and his Crew
There is, however, a small population of the humans who are free and live in a hidden place called Zion. This is deep beneath the surface of the Earth where it is warm (there is no more sunlight). Morpheus and his team are part of the resistance and they have been freeing people from the Matrix. This team uses backdoor access to enter and exit the Matrix. The access point inside is typically a phone. The team has the following people:
Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) – Named after the Greek God of Dreams, is the captain of his ship, the Nebuchadnezzar (named after the biblical king).
Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) – She is the first officer on the ship. She was freed by Morpheus. Before that she was a famous hacker in the Matrix, known for hacking the IRS database.
Cypher (Joe Pantoliano) – He’s been freed from the Matrix too. But after a while he grows to hate Morpheus for showing him the real world. He feels he would have been happier, in his ignorant bliss, unplugged from the Matrix.
Apoc – Another dude who’s been freed from the Matrix and is part of the crew.
Switch – Another dudette who’s been freed from the Matrix and is part of the crew.
Mouse – He’s been freed from the Matrix and is the youngest crew member. He’s a programmer and designs simulations.
Tank – Operator on the ship. He’s not from the Matrix. He was born outside of the Matrix. This also means he doesn’t have any sockets on him and neither can he enter the Matrix.
Dozer – He’s the pilot of the ship. He’s Tank’s brother and is also not from the Matrix.
This team has been using the guidance of a person called the Oracle (Gloria Foster). The Oracle is someone still residing in the Matrix. She is a prophet, of sorts, who has been telling Morpheus about The One. People who have been freed are taken to the Oracle and she advises them on things to come. The Oracle has told Morpheus that he will find The One. She has told Trinity that she would fall in love with The One.
The prophecy stated by the Oracle is that the team will eventually find a person that they will free from the Matrix. He will own the ability to manipulate the Matrix to an extraordinary degree. We’ll talk about this more later. Just know this that Morpheus and his crew have already been looking for The One.
The movie begins with Trinity and Cypher talking. This is the dialogue:
Cypher: You like him, don’t you? You like watching him.
Trinity: Don’t be ridiculous.
Cypher: We’re going to kill him.
Trinity: Morpheus believes he is the One.
Cypher: Do you?
Trinity: It doesn’t matter what I believe.
Cypher: You don’t, do you?
Trinity: Did you hear that?
Cypher: Hear what?
Trinity: Are you sure this line is clean?
Cypher: Yeah, of course I’m sure.
Trinity: I better go.
A couple of things come out straight from here. Trinity has been watching this person in the Matrix by the name Thomas A. Anderson (Keanu Reeves) who is a software programmer at a firm called Metacortex. He goes by the alias Neo who’s a hacker by night. Trinity is clearly interested in Neo, which is what Cypher is referring to (her love for Neo is revealed only at the end). The other thing to talk about here is that Cypher is interested in Trinity (which is revealed later in the film). Also, he’s grown weary of this hunt for The One, hence he’s skeptical. Cypher has also made a deal with the Agents of the Matrix to help them get to Morpheus (this too revealed later on). This line is actually not clean, Cypher has set up Trinity (who is presently inside the Matrix) and she gets cornered in an abandoned hotel. Trinity has been trained to bend rules within the Matrix. She displays enhanced powers and beats up the cops. But there are Agents, she outruns them and heads to a telephone booth to exit the Matrix. The truck, driven by an Agent, smashes the phone booth just moments after Trinity exits. The Agents say the following – “The informant is real”, they are referring to Cypher. “We have the name of their next target. The name is Neo”, the Agents don’t know anything about The One, they only think that Morpheus is trying to free Neo.
These are software programs. They are the gatekeepers of the Matrix. Their primary responsibility is to keep out attackers like Morpheus and his team. Since they are sentient programs, they are written to operate at extremely high speeds and power. They can move in and out of any one still hardwired to the Matrix. That means that anyone that hasn’t been unplugged is potentially an agent. An Agent can render himself onto any one still unplugged. But that said, they are bound by the rules of the Matrix. Which means their speed and strength has an upper limit. Smith is the primary Agent responsible to locate Zion. He’s looking to get to Morpheus.
Wake Up Neo
Neo has been plugged into the Matrix since the time he was born. Neo has constantly felt that there is something wrong with his world. Most people plugged into the Matrix don’t feel this, their minds don’t find fault with the virtual world. But people like Trinity and Neo are different. Their minds intrinsically reject the programming of the Matrix. Just like Morpheus and team are trying to reach out to Neo (through his computer), he too stays up at night and hunts for answers to reach out to these people who have been contacting him. Trinity talks to him through his computer. Types – “Wake up Neo, the Matrix has you. Follow the white rabbit. Knock Knock, Neo”. Soon after this there is a knock on Neo’s door. Trinity can see the code of the Matrix, she sees the people walking up to Neo’s door. She knows they are going to knock. Trinity is no fortune teller.
Neo opens his door, it’s a group of people who have hired Neo to hack something for them. They invite him out. While he initially refuses, he notices a white rabbit on the girl’s shoulder. He remembers what he sees on the computer so he decides to join them. At the club, that they go to, Trinity walks up to him and starts her conversation. Neo is pleasantly surprised that Trinity, who he knows as The Trinity – hacker of the IRS Database, is a girl. She tell him this “I know what you’ve been doing. I know why you hardly sleep…why you live alone and why, night after night…you sit at your computer. You’re looking for him. I know, because I was once looking for the same thing. And when he found me…he told me I wasn’t really looking for him…I was looking for an answer”. She’s referring to Morpheus. “It’s the question that drives us, Neo. It’s the question that brought you here. You know the question…just as I did. What is the Matrix?”. Neo now knows that it’s not paranoia, people are really trying to reach out to him.
Next day, Neo (Mr. Anderson) is late to work and is being told by his manager to not repeat this else he’d get fired. At his cubicle he gets a courier. It’s a phone. It rings. On the line is Morpheus. Morpheus is guiding Neo to escape from the Agents. The Agents are coming to get Neo because they know he’s Morpheus’ next target. Morpheus knows this too. Neo thinks they are coming to arrest him because of his hacker profile. Morpheus asks Neo to use a scaffold on the outside of the building to get to the roof. But Neo’s unable to and gets caught and taken away.
What good is a phone call?
Neo is interrogated by the Agents. Agent Smith makes it appear to Neo that they are a government group who have found out about his dual life as a Software Programmer and a Hacker. Smith tells Neo that they are willing to wipe the slate clean and give him a fresh start. In return, they want him to give up details about Morpheus. Smith refers to Morpheus as a known terrorist. Neo gives them the finger. Smith uses the programming of the Matrix to seal Neo’s mouth and they drop a large bug that enters Neo. This part actually happens in the Matrix. Even though Neo wakes up thinking it to be a dream, the Agents have bugged him and put him back to his house to give the appearance that it was just a dream. The Matrix is already a state of virtual reality, a dream, it’s interesting how the minds connected to the Matrix have dreams inside the VR.
No, The Honour Is Mine.
Morpheus reaches out to Neo again. This is what he says – “They got to you first, but they’ve underestimated how important you are. If they knew what I know…you would probably be dead”. Morpheus is referring to the fact that the Agents don’t know that Neo could be The One. Neo agrees to meet Morpheus. He is met by Apoc, Switch and Trinity under a bridge. He gets in. They point a gun at him, they tell him it’s for their protection. Understand that Neo is still plugged into the Matrix. Which means that an Agent can assimilate onto Neo. In case that happens, they will need to shoot the Agent. They locate the bug inside Neo and take it out and discard it.
Neo is taken to meet Morpheus. Morpheus says “Let me tell you why you’re here. You know something. What you know, you can’t explain. But you feel it. You felt it your entire life. Something’s wrong with the world. You don’t know what, but it’s there. Like a splinter in your mind…driving you mad”. This is what I was referring to earlier on, Neo’s mind rejects the programming of the Matrix. Morpheus continues to define the Matrix:
The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window…or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work…when you go to church…when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes…to blind you from the truth. That you are a slave. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage…born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison…for your mind.
Morpheus offers Neo a choice between two pills. A red pill and a blue pill. The blue pill would ensure Neo goes back home and to his bed and continues on with his life. The red pill would mean Neo will stay on to find out what the Matrix really is. Neo chooses the red pill.
The Red Pill
It’s actually part of a trace program. Though Morpheus and team know where Neo is inside the Matrix, they don’t know where his physical body is located. The pill disrupts his carrier signals so they can pinpoint his physical location. Neo is seated next to a mirror with a crack. The crack heals itself. Neo touches the mirror and his hand dips in like it were liquid. Morpheus says “Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?”. The liquid spreads on to Neo’s hands, then face and enters him. You hear a digitized scream from Neo. It blacks out. This is what happens. A mirror is something that is a reflection of reality. While it is symbolically used in this scene, Neo’s experiencing something that his mind is not able to explain. This mirror is merely a program placed there by Morpheus and team. Neo feels the experience with the mirror can’t be real. His mind is going into a state of panic. As a result, his physical body is reacting accordingly. It produces a fibrillation. The team is looking for this. The panic caused by the mirror is enough to wake Neo up into the real world. Neo sits in a pod with tubes connected to him. This is the reality of every human (except people of Zion) on the planet. Neo looks around to see an endless array of such pods. Neo is obviously confused. He has no idea where he is. A sentinel passes by and grabs Neo and checks on him. It notices that a human has woken up so it treats him as malfunction and discards him. His tubes come off and his body is flushed. Morpheus’ team is waiting for this in the Nebuchadnezzar and pick Neo up. Morpheus welcomes Neo to the real world.
Rest, Neo, the answers are coming…
Neo’s body in the real world has been in a pod all his life. His muscles have atrophied, the team rebuilds them. His eyes hurt, because he’s never used them before. In the real world, he has technically just taken birth. The team is bringing Neo’s body up to speed. Morpheus meets Neo, after he awakens, to tell him about what’s going on. That it’s not 1999 but close to 2199. Tells him that they are on his ship, a hovercraft. Introduces him to the team. He plugs Neo into the Loading program. Morpheus enters too.
The Loading Program
This is the white space that Neo and Morpheus stand and talk in. This is the construct. This is where the team arrives before entering the Matrix. This construct is not shown every time they enter the Matrix but is understood. Here they load clothes, weapons, equipment, anything. From here they also load simulations where they can practice and train.
Mental Projection, Digital Self
When they enter the loading program and further into the Matrix their appearance is what they call the residual self-image. Morpheus explains it to be “the mental projection of your digital self”. Once you have jacked into the Matrix, everything you are and do is merely what your mind is projecting in a digital environment. Inside the Matrix, otherwise, you are just lines of code. The mind visualizes everything else. Morpheus, goes on to explain what the Matrix actually is. He shows Neo simulations of how the world looked at the end of the 20th century and how it looked like currently. Neo can’t handle it. He exits, throws up and faints.
When Neo wakes, Morpheus apologizes for the situation he has brought and left Neo in. He tells him that it is dangerous to free a mind after a particular age. The mind has trouble letting go. Morpheus also tells Neo that When the Matrix was first built, there was a man born inside who had the ability to change whatever he wanted and to remake the Matrix as he saw fit. It was he who freed the first of them taught them the truth. One thing to know here is that Morpheus only knows this information as something that has been passed on to him. This is not necessarily the truth. Morpheus also mentions that the Oracle has prophesied his return. Morpheus tells Neo that their search for this person is over.
Everybody falls the first time
Tank meets Neo the next morning and they begin training. Tank explains that he and his brother were not born in the Matrix. Hence he has no holes. First off, it’s martial arts. Neo begins to learn Jujitsu. Once he’s done, he wakes up to say “I know Kung Fu”. There’s been a confusion regarding this line. Kung Fu refers to any study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete. So when Neo says he knows Kung Fu he’s not referring to any specific form of martial arts. The first one is, however, Jujitsu.
Getting back, Neo and Morpheus enter a simulation similar to the programmed reality of the Matrix. It has the same basic rules. Like gravity. These rules are no different than those of a computer system. Some of them can be bent. Others can be broken. They begin to fight. In the real world, the rest of the team hurriedly come and observe the fight. Neo shows good adaptation and improvisation but is beaten by Morpheus. Morpheus explains to Neo how he being stronger or faster in the simulation has nothing to do with his muscles. Morpheus asks “you think that’s air you’re breathing?”. This question reminds Neo that in the simulation, everything is powered by his mind. If his mind can see past the programmed rules of the simulation he will not be limited in speed or strength. Neo displays incredible speed and beats Morpheus. Morpheus explains that he’s trying to free Neo’s mind.
Next they load the jump program. Morpheus takes a flying leap from one building to the next. Neo preps himself and attempts the jump. But he is unable to see past the programming of the simulation. His mind accepts the expected gravity and falls to the ground. The ground is programmed to cushion the fall hence it’s flexible. Once outside the simulation, Neo is bleeding in his mouth. Morpheus explains that even though they were in a simulation, the mind makes it real. If you die in the Matrix, you die in the real world. Later, Trinity takes Neo some dinner. Cypher intercepts and asks – “I don’t remember you ever bringing me dinner”. Trinity likes Neo. Cypher likes Trinity and is jealous.
Woman In Red
Next day, Morpheus and Neo enter another simulation. It’s a busy street with lots of people. Neo doesn’t know this is a simulation. Morpheus is explaining how everyone connected to the Matrix are the people they are trying to free but are also a threat to them. Neo is distracted by a woman passing by in a red dress. She’s a program placed by Mouse intentionally. Neo turns around to see her and in per place is standing Agent Smith. The simulation freezes. Morpheus explains who the agents are, how they manifest and that Neo is going have to fight them one day. Neo asks if he can dodge bullets. Morpheus replies by saying when he’s ready he will not have to. This means that when Neo’s mind is fully free, he can simply stop the bullets with his mind. The ship gets a proximity warning of a sentinel. Sentinels are the squid-like machines programmed to search and destroy. They get ready to fire an Electromagnetic Pulse but the sentinel is unable to locate them and it leaves.
Ignorance is Bliss
Later, Neo and Cypher have a conversation. Cypher explains how you need to look at the Matrix in code because there is way too much information to be decoded into visuals. Cypher expresses his frustration of not having chosen the blue pill. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this. Perhaps Cypher was initially thought to be The One. But that didn’t pan out. Cypher’s frustrations perhaps stem from this fact. Right after this, Cypher sneaks into the Matrix and meets with Agent Smith. Cypher says:
You know I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss.
He prefers to be ignorantly blissful in the state of a dream rather than suffer in real life. He wants to forget everything and be reinserted into the Matrix. He wants to be made someone rich and famous like an actor. In return, Cypher promises to get him Morpheus who knows access codes to the Zion’s mainframe. Using these codes, Agent Smith can track and kill every hacker trying to enter and free minds from the Matrix – that is his purpose, keeper of the gate.
Questioning Our Own Reality
At breakfast, Mouse brings up some really good points about taste. Machines never understood taste like humans did. So when they programmed taste in the Matrix, how did they define the taste of various food? Take chicken for example. Maybe they didn’t know what to make it taste like, which is why it tastes like everything. This bit of the conversation is talking about our world as viewers of the movie. People do feel that chicken does taste like everything. Going by the logic thrown in the movie, if a dream is programmed to be so real, how do we know that we (the viewers) are not part of some simulated world. That we, the viewers, could very well be the human slaves mentioned in the movie. There is no way to refute it. This factor is what makes the movie so fantastic. Mouse also suggests he can arrange for a meeting with the Woman in Red. A digital pimp, hard at work.
There Is No Spoon
The team goes into the Matrix to get Neo to meet with the Oracle. As they go in, Cypher leaves an open cell phone line for the Agents to trace. Neo meets a small child who’s bending spoons. Here’s another trivia, as viewers, out world has claimed to see people bend forks and spoons. This remains a popular myth but the movie goes about to explain how this may be possible. Once again, we the viewers, are made to question our reality. The child tells Neo “Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth. There is no spoon”. The spoon is just code, it doesn’t exist. Neo’s mind is not bending the spoon, it is merely altering the programming around it. This kid is a “potential”. Which means at very early age, this kid is able to free his mind and will soon be unplugged from the matrix.
Not too bright, though.
Neo meets the Oracle. She displays foresight. She’s able to see that Neo was going to break the vase. Either that or she said the right statement to ensure that Neo broke the vase. If she had not said anything, Neo wouldn’t have turned around to break the vase. She mentions that he is cute and gets why Trinity likes him. The Oracle tells Neo that though he has the gift, he seems to be waiting for something. A next life maybe. She goes on to tell him that in the one hand, he’ll have Morpheus’ life and in the other hand, he’ll have his own. One of them was going to die. Which one would be up to Neo. But she also tells him that he’ll remember he doesn’t believe in any of this fate crap. That he’s in control of his own life. What the Oracle does here is that she tells Neo what he needs to hear. She’s not telling him the whole truth. Just like talking about the vase makes him break it. Telling him about the choice will make him take a step towards becoming The One.
Déjà vu is a French phrase that means “already seen”. Ever have those moments in life where you’re in a situation when you feel you have already been through that exact situation? It feels like you are reliving those few seconds of life again but can’t explain how this could be happening? Well that is what is referred to as Déjà vu. Scientists explain it as a temporal lapse in information flow in the brain. The Matrix explains it as a glitch in the Matrix when the Agents change something. On their way out. Neo sees a black cat that walk up and shakes. He sees the cat doing that exact thing again. Neo exclaims saying “Déjà vu”. Obviously, the team panics. The Agents have cut the hardwire and have walled up all the windows, trapping them in the building. The team locates the main wet-wall and hides between them. Mouse gets cornered and killed. Cypher gives up their location by sneezing. Agent Smith grabs Neo. Morpheus sacrifices himself and asks Trinity to leave with Neo. A fight ensues between Morpheus and Smith. Obviously, Morpheus has his ass handed to him and is taken prisoner.
Cypher breaks away from the team gets out earlier. Tank doesn’t know Cypher is behind all the trouble they have been having. Cypher gets a phaser gun and fires at Tank. He then kills Dozer with it. He gets on the call with Trinity and confesses his betrayal. After which, he abruptly unplugs and kills Apoc and then Switch. Just as he’s about to kill Neo, Tank (shot but not killed) fires at Cypher and kills him. Neo and Trinity exit the Matrix.
The Agents have Morpheus chained to a chair and they are using some code (in the form of syringes) to get Morpheus to give up the codes to Zion’s mainframe. Agent Smith is hacking into Morpheus’ mind. I can’t dilute the amazing monologue by Agent Smith, so here they are:
Have you ever stood and stared at it? Marveled at its beauty, its genius? Billions of people just living out their lives. Oblivious. Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world where none suffered, where everyone would be happy? It was a disaster. No one would accept the program.
Entire crops were lost. Some believe that we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that as a species human beings define their reality through misery and suffering. So the perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from.
Which is why the Matrix was redesigned to this. The peak of your civilization. I say, “your civilization” because when we started thinking for you, it became our civilization which is, of course, what this is all about. Evolution, Morpheus. Like the dinosaur. Look out that window. You had your time. The future is our world, Morpheus. The future is our time. I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops an equilibrium with the surrounding environment. But you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease. A cancer of this planet. You are a plague. And we are the cure.
Tank suggests that it is only matter of time before they get the codes from Morpheus. He suggests that they pull the plug on Morpheus. He suggests they kill him. Tank is about to pull the plug. Neo remembers what the Oracle tells him. This is the moment when he gets to choose between Morpheus and his life. He decides to go into the Matrix to attempt rescuing Morpheus. He tells Trinity that he is not The One and that the Oracle has told him this already. He explains that Morpheus is more important that him. Trinity insists on coming in too because Neo will need her help. Neo feels this will work because no human has tried to hit the agents directly, they would not expect it. “That’s why it’s going to work”, Neo says. They load themselves up with plenty of guns and enter the Matrix.
Morpheus holds strong. Smith asks the other two agents to leave. He does something strange here. He takes off his earpiece and tells Morpheus:
I’m going to be honest with you. I hate this place this zoo this prison this reality, whatever you want to call it. I can’t stand it any longer. It’s the smell. If there is such a thing. I feel saturated by it. I can taste your stink. And every time I do, I fear that I have somehow been infected by it. It’s repulsive. Isn’t it? I must get out of here. I must get free. And in this mind is the key. My key. Once Zion is destroyed, there is no need for me to be here.
Smith is a program. Programs, in the Matrix, have a function and they perform their function. Smith seems be an anomaly. He expresses frustration like human. He wants to move on from the Matrix, from his function. He bypasses his programming to disconnect himself from communication (removing his earpiece is indicative of that). This odd behaviour is picked upon very well in the next two films.
Trinity and Neo break into the building with a large bag and guns. The large bag contains a bomb. They kill all the guards in an uber cool sequence. They enter the lift and head up. They stop the lift midway, leave the bag in and get on top of the elevator. Neo says “there is no spoon” and shoots the lift wire. Neo is reminding himself that none of this actually exists. It’s all just code. The lift falls down and they go up. The bomb explodes with the elevator hits the ground. The other two agents walk in on Smith wondering what he was doing. The bomb triggers the sprinklers. Neo and Trinity are on the roof taking down security. One of the agents renders himself on to a security guard. Neo tries shooting him but the agent is too fast and dodges all the bullets. Then Agent fires at Neo, to everyone’s surprise, Neo dodges the bullets too. Well almost. One of the bullets scrapes him and he’s on the floor. Remember, the Oracle only told Neo what he needed to hear. He’s in the Matrix trying to save Morpheus because of what the Oracle told him. Trinity gets to point blank range to the Agent and shoots him. Why couldn’t the agent dodge that? Well the Agents are fast but are still limited by the rules of the Matrix. This is what Morpheus tells Neo earlier on. The Agent is not fast enough to dodge a bullet from a point blank range. But of course, Trinity doesn’t kill the Agent. They can’t be shot because they are simply a render on top of another person, in this case that security guard. Which is why as the Agent falls to the ground, it becomes the security guard as he hits the floor.
He’s Not Going To Make It
Neo asks Trinity if she can fly the chopper. She asks Tank for a download of the pilot program for the B-212. Now she knows how to fly it. The chopper has a machine gun that fires a 100 rounds per second. This will give Neo his speed advantage. Trinity flies the chopper at the level where Morpheus is held and Neo unleashes on the Agents. The Agents are unable to match the speed of the gun and get shot. Morpheus regains some control and strength is able to break his chains and run to the chopper. Another re-assimilated Smith enters and fires through the wall at Morpheus, he gets him in the leg. Neo notices that Morpheus can’t make the jump so he leaps off the chopper and catches him in the air. They both hang off Neo’s safety harness. Morpheus is dropped to safety. The Agents appear again and fire at the chopper’s fuel tank. Trinity loses control of the chopper and beings to crash. She sees Neo grabbing on to the safety harness so she shoots its other end off the chopper, hangs on to it and swings away to safety. Neo pulls her up. Morpheus tells Neo that the Oracle told him only what he needed to hear.
He’s Going To Make It
The machines have located Nebuchadnezzar because of the signal it’s transmitting. The Agents instruct sentinels to attack. They continue to scan for the three of them. They’re not out yet. The trio head to their exit phone at a subway. Morpheus exits. A homeless person happens to see this. Trinity is trying to tell Neo about what the Oracle has told her. Smith renders himself on to this homeless person, and just as Trinity is exiting. he fires. He misses her and gets the phone. Neo can’t exit. He needs to run. But he stays to fight Smith. He’s beginning to believe. The two of them begin to shoot at each other but run empty before they can. They’ve both counted each other’s bullets. A fist fight ensues. While Neo has a short moment where he’s beating Smith, he soon gets his butt kicked. Smith throws him onto the tracks and pins him down waiting for the train to kill them both. Of course, Smith wouldn’t die, only Neo would. Neo conjures up enough ability to jump and smash Smith to the ceiling and escape the train. But just as he’s leaving the subway, a fresh Smith exits the train.
Neo realizes there is no beating Smith. He runs for it. The agents begin chasing him. They are fast and keep rendering themselves onto the people Neo runs past. Tank is guiding Neo to the next phone to exit. Smith preempts the phone’s location and reaches it and waits. Soon as Neo enters, Smith shoots him.
The Matrix Ending Explained
Neo is shot, his mind is not strong enough to overcome the bullets that are killing him. He begins to die. His heart stops. But he’s not yet dead. His mind is still alive, dying, but alive. Meanwhile, sentinels begin to attack the ship. If they use the Electromagnetic Pulse before Neo gets out, they will end up killing Neo. Trinity realizes that the Oracle has told her what she needed to hear. She tells Neo “I’m not afraid anymore. The Oracle told me that I would fall in love and that that man… the man that I loved would be The One. So you see, you can’t be dead. You can’t be because I love you. You hear me? I love you”. She kisses Neo in the real world. In the Matrix, Neo perhaps needed to go into a near dead state before his mind could fully break free off it. So somewhere between the Matrix, the real world and death, Neo hears what he needs to from Trinity and regains consciousness. As he gets up, he’s reborn (also what the Oracle was referring to, not literally his next life, but rebooted) as The One. The Agents fire at Neo, he stops the bullets with his mind. He’s no longer bound by the rules of the Matrix. He can change it as he sees fit. Smith desperately attempts to attack but Neo’s speed is not limited anymore. He single-handedly (quite literally) beats Smith, enters him and destroys his code. Neo exits the Matrix just in time for Morpheus to fire the EMP and destroy the sentinels. Neo and Trinity kiss.
The film ends with Neo, in the Matrix, leaving a message to the machine.
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’ll hang up this phone and then I’ll 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.
Neo plans to steadily help free everyone’s mind in the Matrix. Free them from their state of slavery. He looks unstoppable. He hangs up and flies away. He can fly as he’s bound by no rule anymore. The film ends.
Though Neo feels unstoppable, things are not how they seem. The next part, The Matrix : Reloaded, is about just this.
Here’s the explanation to the second part – The Matrix Reloaded Simplified & Explained.
Here’s the explanation to the third part – The Matrix Revolutions Simplified & Explained
Other Interesting Films
- How a time travel movie is conceived and executed establishes how complicated it can become. Some filmmakers avoid the complexities, others attempt it and make …Read More »
- Barry's Time Travel Review Score Mechanics Repercussion Coherence Rewatchability 2.8 BaTTR Score What’s BaTTR Score? A Day (or Ha-roo) is a 2017 Korean thriller directed …Read More »
- Rememory is a 2017 science-fiction crime mystery directed by Mark Palansky. The film is centred on the puzzling death of a scientist whose invention extracts any memory …Read More »
- Barry's Time Travel Review Score Mechanics Repercussion Coherence Rewatchability 2 BaTTR Score What’s BaTTR Score? Time Trap is a 2017 science fiction film directed by Ben Foster …Read More »
- What on earth was that entire film about, you ask? Bottom Of The World is a 2017 psychological drama directed by Richard Sears. The plot follows Alex, …Read More »
- The Skin I Live In (La piel que habito) is a Spanish Psychological Thriller Drama film directed by Pedro Almodóvar. The cast includes Antonio Banderas, …Read More »
- Here’s the ending of the Russian film Loveless (Nelyubov) explained. Plot Explanation Zhenya and Boris are going a really bitter divorce. What is important is …Read More »
- Barry's Time Travel Review Score Mechanics Repercussion Coherence Rewatchability 2.8 BaTTR Score What’s BaTTR Score? A Day (or Ha-roo) is a 2017 Korean thriller directed …Read More »
- The Spanish film Contratiempo is written and directed by Oriol Paulo and is available on Netflix. It stars Mario Casas, Bárbara Lennie, José Coronado and …Read More »
- Collateral Beauty was directed by David Frankel and has a big cast which consists of Will Smith, Edward Norton, Keira Knightley, Michael Peña, Naomie Harris, …Read More »
Barry is a technologist who helps start-ups build successful products. His love for movies and production has led him to write his well-received film explanation and analysis articles to help everyone appreciate the films better. He’s regularly available for a chat conversation on his website and consults on storyboarding from time to time.
Click to browse all his film articles