It’s time once again for another long-awaited sequel to debut — Matrix 4 titled The Matrix Resurrections. The Matrix will once more be gracing screens big and small, whether you’re watching in a theater or streaming at home. So it may be a good idea to brush up on the original Matrix trilogy before diving back into its world.
It’s worth rewatching the 1999 original that redefined the merging of action and sci-fi as we know it. The sequels of Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions also brought the trilogy to an explosive conclusion. You may also want to check out the animated anthology of The Animatrix, containing side stories of The Matrix trilogy.
The Matrix Trilogy
Considering The Matrix Resurrections is already out, however, you may feel it’s too late. How could you pass on watching the film when it’s on the same streaming service containing the original Matrix trilogy? You may also not have the time in the days to marathon four films.
If you find yourself in this dilemma, you may just favor the cliff notes. Perhaps you feel you’ve been versed enough in Matrix that you just need a brief refresher. Read on to get the essential info you need before returning to a world of machines, simulations, and explosive action.
A Simulated World
The first movie of the Matrix trilogy began with programmer Tom Anderson (Keanu Reeves) seeing a different world. He finds himself going down a rabbit hole of discovering his reality isn’t real. He exists within a simulation forced upon him by machines.
When Tom is awakened, he discovers that his true self was being held prisoner by machines. The program he escapes from reveals a dark world where humans are harvested. Tom becomes Neo and is one of the lucky ones to lead the fight from the outside.
Neo and the human resistance fight back by routinely diving back into the simulation. They find ways to manipulate it and get around the strict security of agents. There are plenty of restrictions and dangers with this simulation though.
The simulation can only be exited at certain points, usually in the form of a payphone. If you die in the simulation, you die in reality. Likewise, if you’re killed in reality, you’re dead in the simulation as well.
The Matrix Trilogy — Neo The Hero
Neo is referred to as the one given that he possesses messiah powers within the simulated world. As he discovers in The Matrix, he not only knows kung-fu but can fly as well. It’s why he is often referred to by his co-rebels as Superman.
Neo’s expert reflexes within the simulation makes him able to handle tougher situations. He can take on rooms full of thugs, regardless if they have close or long-range weapons. It’s why he’s vital for fighting back when the system becomes overrun by rogue programs.
Neo is not invincible though. He can still be harmed and there’s real danger with the foes that he will face. As revealed in Revolutions, he can also die, further cementing the Christ allegory.
The Matrix simulation is home to numerous programs that have veered out of their normal programming. One of them is Agent Smith. He’s unlike the other sunglasses-wearing agents as he has grander ambitions.
Though Smith was defeated at the end of The Matrix, he would return in Reloaded more as virus. He infects the system be replicating himself in the population. By the third film, he fully takes over the simulation by making the whole world look like him.
Smith is similar to Neo in that he does not wish to be bound by the world he was born into. He refuses to be absorbed by the code that made him and strikes out against him. It’s what makes him the perfect villain for this world.
The War of the Machines in The Matrix Trilogy
The events that led up to how the machines took over humanity are not as directly addressed in the trilogy. To find those answers, you’ll have to go to The Animatrix. The prequel tale lies in the two-part short The Second Renaissance.
The story specifies that machines once served man but that relationship turned rocky with the birth of artificial intelligence. Androids were once used as maids and workers. When one android killed its owner, however, the rights of these robots were brought into question.
A civil war was brought on where the robots rallied for the same rights as humans. When the humans refused, the robots decided to fight back. They assembled their own colony and began plans to conquer the planet.
A brutal battle followed where humanity suffered heavy losses. The defeat led to the robots forcing human beings into the simulation program. Now humans can spend their entire existence not knowing they are trapped in virtual reality they had no choice in being involved with.
Red Pill, Blue Pill
Before Neo awakens, the wise Morpheus gives him a choice. He can take the blue pill and remain within the simulation, never learning the truth. He can also take the red pill and have his whole world turned upside down.
The pills are more than just a reference to Alice in Wonderland. They represent the will to change and fight back against the status quo. Morpheus can tell Neo all about the world outside the simulation but it’s up to Neo to decide if he’ll take that plunge.
Errors in the System
Throughout the Matrix trilogy, there are various glitches that hint at another world. Some of them seem random and familiar. The most memorable is the black cat that brings on a sensation of deja vu.
The repetition and coincidences all form clues as to how the simulation functions. When understood, events can not only be altered but predicted. This is how the Oracle of the program is able to view so clearly events as they unfold, akin to the omnipresence of Doctor Manhattan.