It has been 18 years since the conclusion of Lana and Lilly Wachowski‘s groundbreaking science fiction action trilogy, The Matrix. Directed by Lana Wachowski and starring the returning Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, the fourth and highly-anticipated installment of The Matrix, The Matrix Resurrections is finally here.
Before we enter the Matrix once again, we’re going back to where it all started: the original Matrix trilogy. Check out our comprehensive guide to everything you need to remember from The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, and The Matrix Revolutions below:
The Matrix (1999)
Keanu Reeves stars as Thomas Anderson, known by his hacker alias “Neo,” a computer programmer who has been searching for answers to cryptic messages about something called “the Matrix.” He is contacted by a fellow hacker named Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), who speaks of a mysterious man called Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) who will be able to give Neo the answers he has been looking for.
Trinity introduces Neo to the enigmatic Morpheus, who explains to him the truth about their world: they are living inside a simulated reality called “the Matrix.” Morpheus presents Neo with the choice between a red pill, which will show him the truth about the Matrix, or a blue pill, which will allow him to forget everything and return to his life as he now knows it. Neo takes the red pill and wakes up in a liquid-filled pod in the real world where he is then brought aboard Morpheus’ flying ship, the Nebuchadnezzar.
Morpheus explains that there was a war in the early 21st century between humans and Machines. Humans darkened the sky by robbing the Machines of their energy source, solar power, and in turn, the Machines captured humans and used them as a bioelectric energy source, or essentially, a human battery. Morpheus believes that Neo is “The One,” the prophesied human who will end the centuries-long war between humans and Machines and free enslaved minds from the Matrix.
In the climax of the movie, the Agents, led by Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), ambush and capture Morpheus with the intention of obtaining his access codes to the mainframe computer in Zion, the underground city in the real world. Neo and Trinity return to the Matrix and rescue him, but their victory is short-lived when Agent Smith ambushes Neo and kills him. In the real world, Trinity tells Neo that the Oracle (Gloria Foster), a clairvoyant, foresaw that she would fall in love with The One. She kisses him, and he is brought back to life. In the Matrix, he defeats Agent Smith, then returns to the real world just as the Nebuchadnezzar’s EMP weapon disables the attacking sentinels.
- The Matrix is a simulated reality that models the world as it was in 1999. After a war broke out between humans and Machines at some time in the early 21st century, humans cut off the solar power the Machines depended upon as an energy source and as a result darkened the sky. In response, the Machines captured humans and used their bioelectric energy as a power source. The enslaved humans are kept docile inside the Matrix. If you die in the Matrix, your physical body dies in the real world as well.
- Humans who remained free after the war reside in Zion, an underground city in the real world. Morpheus and the Resistance “unplug” humans from the Matrix and recruit them to join their crusade.
- Agents are sentient programs designed to eliminate threats to the Matrix. Similarly, Sentinels are machines used to eliminate rebels in the real world.
- Agent Smith, Neo’s greatest foe, believes that humans are a virus on the planet. This first movie sets Agent Smith up as the trilogy’s main antagonist and foil to Neo.
- Morpheus believes that Neo is “The One,” the prophesied human who will lead the rebellion and free humanity from the Matrix and ultimately end the Machine War.
- As The One, Neo is able to freely manipulate the Matrix at will using superhuman abilities, including telekinesis, high-speed flight, and superhuman strength and agility. He is also a master of every known martial art through the Resistance’s combat program, which allows him to instantly download expert martial arts abilities in mere moments.
- The Oracle, the prophet who foresaw the coming of The One, told Trinity that she would fall in love with The One. Trinity confesses this to Neo just before he is resurrected at the end of the movie.
The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
The events of the highly anticipated sequel, The Matrix Reloaded, take place six months later. Neo, who is now romantically involved with Trinity, keeps having dreams about her getting shot while falling from a building to her death. Captain Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) has called an emergency meeting of all ships in Zion to alert everyone of an incoming attack from an army of Sentinels, set to arrive in Zion in 72 hours. All ships are ordered to prepare, but Morpheus goes against orders when another ship, the Caduceus, is contacted by the Oracle. The Nebuchadnezzar leaves Zion to go meet with the Oracle in the Matrix. The Oracle confirms to Neo that she is a program within the Matrix, and it is up to Neo to decide if he wants to trust her or not. She tells him that he needs to reach “the Source” of the Matrix and the only way to do that is through the Keymaker (Randall Duk Kim). Smith then appears to tell Neo that he has gone rogue after refusing to be deleted following his defeat at the end of The Matrix. He is now able to clone himself simply by touching other people in the Matrix, even Agents. When he attempts to take over Neo’s body, a fight between Neo and the swarm of Smith clones breaks out. Neo is forced to retreat.
Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus visit the Merovingian (Lambert Wilson), a rogue program holding the Keymaker captive. After a long chase in the now-iconic Highway scene, Trinity rescues the Keymaker. Neo makes it to the Source where he meets the Architect (Helmut Bakaitis), the creator of the Matrix, who tells him that there have been multiple versions of the Matrix. In fact, there have been six versions of “The One,” all designed by the Matrix as a purposeful anomaly meant to reach the Source and choose between two paths: select people to repopulate Zion after it is destroyed, or refuse and allow the Matrix to crash. Neo is the first iteration of The One to refuse when he learns the Trinity has entered the Matrix and is in danger. Like in his dream, when he reaches Trinity, she has been shot while falling off a building, but Neo is able to reach her before she hits the ground. He removes the bullet from her chest and reaches into her heart and revives her when she flatlines.
They return to the real world where Sentinels are attacking. The Nebuchadnezzar is destroyed, but the crew escape after Neo realizes that he can use his abilities outside the Matrix by disarming the Machines with his mind. He falls into a coma afterward from the effort. When the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar is picked up by another ship, they learn that all the other ships have been destroyed, but there was one survivor who has fallen into a coma. Unfortunately, that one survivor, unbeknownst to them, is Smith, who is now possessing Bane (Ian Bliss), one of the Caduceus crew members.
- After Neo and Agent Smith’s confrontation in The Matrix, Smith reveals that he refused to return to be deleted and instead is now a rogue program no longer bound to his duties as an Agent of the Matrix. He can now clone himself by touching anyone in the Matrix — Agents included — and use their bodies as hosts.
- Smith takes over Bane, one of the Caduceus crew members, and uses his body to leave the Matrix and enter into the real world.
- Neo figures out that the Oracle is an exiled computer program within the Matrix. Exiled programs are those that have malfunctioned, outlived their purpose, or have been replaced, but refuse to return to the Source for deletion.
- Neo meets the Architect, the creator of the Matrix, who explains to him that there have been several versions of the Matrix and that Neo is in fact the sixth iteration of The One. He reveals that The One is a purposeful computer anomaly that the Matrix uses as a form of control. The One’s purpose, according to the architect’s design, is to return to the Source and choose 16 females and 7 males to rebuild Zion after its imminent destruction.
- Because of Neo’s love for Trinity and his desire to save her, Neo is the first “The One” to choose a different path than the architect planned, which causes the Machine War to enter into a new phase it has never reached before.
- Neo displays his abilities in the real world outside of the Matrix for the first time by destroying the Sentinel with his mind, which ultimately sends him into a coma.
The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
The Matrix Revolutions picks up immediately where the previous film left off. Neo, who is still in a coma, is trapped inside the Matrix in Mobil Ave, a subway station that acts as a transition zone between the Matrix and the machine world. He meets a family of programs — a mother, father, and their daughter, Sati (Tanveer K. Atwal) — who are smuggling Sati, an exile program, into the Matrix to avoid deletion. Trinity, Morpheus, and Seraph (Collin Chou), an ally and guard of the Oracle, rescue Neo from the station. Neo then visits the Oracle (now played by Mary Alice following the death of Gloria Foster) who tells him that Smith intends to destroy both the real world and the Matrix. When Neo leaves, a group of assimilated Smiths arrives and assimilates the Oracle, gaining her powers of precognition.
Back in the real world, the crews of the Nebuchadnezzar and the Hammer interrogate Bane who has woken from his coma. With Niobe’s permission, Neo takes her ship, the Logos, to travel into Machine City with Trinity. Neo is shocked to find Bane/Smith, who has snuck onto the ship and has found a way to assimilate outside the Matrix. They fight and Bane burns Neo’s eyes, but Neo realizes that he can still see the machine source code, which allows him to kill Bane. Unfortunately, his victory is short lived when he and Trinity are pursued by Machines hell-bent on stopping them from entering Machine City. Trinity gets impaled after they crash into a building trying to escape the Machines, and she dies in Neo’s arms.
Neo makes it into Machine City where he meets the “Deus Ex Machina,” leader of the Machines. Neo strikes a deal with the Machine that he will stop Smith from conquering the Matrix and the real world, if the Machines agree to make peace with Zion. They plug Neo into the Matrix, which Smith has managed to completely assimilate. Neo and Smith face off one last time, when Neo purposefully allows Smith to assimilate him. Outside the Matrix, the Machines send a surge of energy through Neo’s physical body in the real world, causing the Neo-Smith clone to be destroyed, along with all of the rest of the Smith clones. Neo dies in his sacrifice.
The Matrix is rebooted. The Architect meets the Oracle in the park, where he tells her that peace can only last for so long, but humans will be offered the choice to leave the Matrix. The Oracle tells Sati that she believes they will see Neo again.
- Neo meets a young girl named Sati, an exile program that was created seemingly without a purpose. The Oracle believes that she will someday play an important role in the future for both humans and machines.
- The Oracle informs Neo that he has developed a connection with the Source, the Machine mainframe, and therefore all of his abilities exist because of this connection.
- The Oracle tells Neo that Smith is his “opposite” or “negative,” and poses a lethal threat to the Matrix and to the Source.
- While attempting to escape from Machine pursuers during their perilous flight into Machine City, Trinity and Neo’s ship crashes in a machine tower. Trinity is impaled, and she dies in Neo’s arms.
- After Bane/Smith burns Neo’s eyes and blinds him, Neo realizes that due to his connection to the Source, he can still see machine source code in the real world.
- Neo defeats Smith and strikes a deal with the leadership of the Machines, manifested in an entity called Deus Ex Machina, to stop Smith, who has now assimilated all of the Matrix, in exchange for peace with Zion.
- In the final confrontation between Neo and Smith, Neo allows Smith to assimilate him. The Machines send a surge of energy into Neo’s body in the physical world, causing all of the Smith clones to be destroyed, starting with the Neo-Smith clone. Neo sacrifices himself for a peaceful future between humans and the Machines.
- The Matrix is rebooted, but the architect replies that peace can only last for so long.