It’s interesting to imagine sometimes; just how out-of-place The Matrix must have seemed in the late 90s, when the first film was released.
No film had ever stewed together so much kung-fu, bullets, ridiculous superpowers, and mind bending philosophical concepts – not to mention the trenchcoats and micro-sunglasses.
The Matrix franchise is set in a bleak, hopeless world – a future Earth where a machine uprising captures and enslaves humanity using a simulated world, which is collectively turned into a grotesque Farmville project – the machines harvest our energy, turning us into a somewhat inefficient and very disturbing dystopian power source.
While a ragtag bunch of survivors tries their best to free the minds of people trapped within the simulation, things only really pick up once trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss), and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) manage to yoink Keanu Reeves’ pale super hacker out of the system – a man tied to the very destiny of the human race – Neo.
After an iconic run in the early 2000s with the original trilogy, Reeves returned to one of his most famous roles with a long-awaited fourth film in the franchise – The Matrix Resurrections:
With the series’ final installment going live on Amazon Prime Video this May 12th, let’s take a moment to briefly visit the epic, surreal, and very bizarre tale of Neo’s original trilogy.
Well, he’s actually called Thomas Anderson at first.
Neo is the character’s online persona – while working as a bored and disillusioned software developer by day, Neo stalks the internet’s deepest recesses at night, hunting down a mysterious figure named Morpheus.
We also get to see Trinity dust some cops and the Matrix’s sinister Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). Sick!
After making contact with Neo in the most 1990s club imaginable, she gets him in touch with Morpheus – who explains the entire grim ‘true reality’ of the human race, and presents Neo with the biggest choice of his life:
“You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”
Well, if Neo took the blue pill the movie would only be half an hour long, so…. bottoms up!
Neo wakes up in the ‘real world’ – giving us a glimpse of the nightmare humanity is actually sleeping through. Soon found by Morpheus and the crew, the resistance leader explains to Neo that he’s actually a messiah – a Christ-like figure called ‘The One’.
While Neo seems skeptical about his fate, he’s put to the test after Trinity saves him with a kiss – ‘resurrecting’ him, fulfilling the film’s religious subtext and finally giving Neo the ability to bend the Matrix to his will.
Agent Smith is promptly sent to the Recycle Bin, and Neo flies off into the sky, accepting his destiny – and his iconic trenchcoat.
The Matrix Reloaded
A few months after the events of The Matrix, we now get to see a bit more of Zion – the last bastion of humanity in the real world. Neo meanwhile has begun a relationship with Trinity – although he often dreams about her getting shot. No foreshadowing there… right?
The film then introduces us to the Oracle and the Keymaker – two characters that end up helping Neo reach ‘the source’ of the Matrix. Agent Smith meanwhile has turned into a rogue program – with creepy cloning powers, he manages to overpower our hero, who ends up retreating.
Neo does pull off some… questionable fight tactics like this though. Goofy or badass? I think both!
Anyway, we’re introduced to yet another rogue program called the Merovingian (Lambert Wilson), who’s holding the Keymaker captive. After a long, absolutely incredible chase scene, Trinity saves the day – granting Neo access to the Architect (Helmut Bakaitis), who is revealed as the Matrix’ creator.
After a crash course in mass-scale human-mind control, Neo learns that he’s just one iteration of… the One. While the Architect has a predictable future in mind for Neo, our hero decides to flip off the system, breaking past his mental barriers and distorting the very reality of the Matrix in order to save Trinity – who rather predictably, has been shot while falling off a building.
Neo also takes his revenge on traffic jams in the meantime. Good job, Mr. Anderson!
Long story short, Neo saves her through the power of love – something a bunch of ugly, genocidal machines certainly have no idea about – by using his powers to retrieve the bullet and restart her heart – with his hand. Seems like Neo brushed up on some next-level first-aid tips in his free time. Always take the main character’s dreams seriously, guys!
In the real world, the crew survive a devastating attack as Neo’s powers get unlocked in the real world – while a sneaky Agent Smith worms his own way into reality by possessing a human named Bane.
The Matrix Revolutions
If you thought a six-month gap was relatively short, Revolutions doesn’t skip a beat. After his new real-world powers knock him into a Matrix-bound coma, Neo learns that Agent Smith plans to destroy both the real and synthetic world – we don’t know why, but once he absorbs the Oracle, we certainly need to take his mission seriously.
In the real world, the humans interrogate Bane – who eventually attacks the crew once Neo shows up. While Bale burns Neo’s eyes, the One can see the world through machine code, allowing him to kill Bane. Soon after, Trinity and Neo try to escape, but she dies in his arms.
Neo continues onward into ‘Machine City’, where he comes across their leader, ‘Deus Ex Machina’ – literally meaning ‘god from the machine’. Neo strikes a deal, offering Agent Smith’s head in exchange for peace with Zion. Why Neo could trust an AI that is literally mass-farming humanity is beyond me… but it’s far from the strangest thing in this series – moving on.
Neo is now plugged into the Matrix for the final time, facing off against a Smith who has now assimilated just about everything he could get his hands on. Hungry to finally absorb Neo, the One purposefully falls into his clutches, while the machines send a massive power spike through Neo’s actual body – turning both him and Smith into dust, digital and otherwise.
What About Resurrections?
While we won’t spoil too much for you, Revolutions ends with the Matrix being rebooted, and the Architect informing the Oracle that while he expects the peace to not last too long, humans will be offered the choice to leave the Matrix. The Oracle foreshadows that we will see Neo again.
Eighteen years later, her prediction does indeed come true with the release of The Matrix Resurrections. Middle-aged and with no recollection of his previous incarnation, Thomas Anderson is a burnt-out game developer who finds himself – much like in the past – thrust into a newly re-imagined world that questions his sense of reality and meaning.
The Matrix Resurrections streams on Amazon Prime Video, 12th May onwards.
(Featured Image Credits: Warner Bros.)