“The Matrix” trilogy is considered one of the most thought-provoking pieces of sci-fi over the last couple of decades. It featured Keanu Reeves as Neo or “The One,” destined to lead humanity out of the artificial reality they perceive to be the real world. In the digital world of the Matrix, this illusion of peace and everyday life for humans was maintained by an artificial intelligence, robots and sentient programs meant to oppress mankind.
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The Wachowskis brought us three movies from 1999 to 2003 telling Neo’s story of liberation: “The Matrix,” “The Matrix Reloaded,” and “The Matrix Revolutions.” With news that this popular franchise is up for a reboot, speculation is that it could be a prequel based on Neo’s mentor, Morpheus, so with all the buzz around, CBR decided to look at 15 of the trilogy’s biggest and best moments.
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for “The Matrix” trilogy!
15. NEO VS. MULTIPLE AGENT SMITHS
In “The Matrix Reloaded,” Neo sought the advice of another iteration of the Oracle, whose role was to disseminate key information to The One about his fate, and how his predecessors fared. After this meeting, Neo, who was now fully trained and more versed in his powers, encountered Agent Smith in an epic fight scene. Following the finale of “The Matrix,” Smith had some of Neo imprinted onto his code and this villainous program was now able to create replicas of himself using other people hooked up to the Matrix, as well as convert programs within the Matrix into more copies.
He brought a bunch to the fight and Neo had to unleash his arsenal on them, which included his martial arts resume, a lamp post and well, everything else Morpheus taught him. He even survived a crazy dogpile which saw hundreds of Smiths try to squash him, but he flung them all into the air. Realizing he was going to be outnumbered, he flew off. It was a victory for Neo, but he realized Smith had evolved into something much more sinister, and more so, very much rogue.
14. THE HIGHWAY CHASE
When Neo met the Oracle in “Reloaded,” she also gave him crucial information on a mysterious figure called the Keymaker. He held the secrets on how to get to the Source of the Matrix (a.k.a. the hub of the facade), but was imprisoned by the Merovingian. Neo’s team engaged his thugs while Morpheus and Trinity went on the run with the Keymaker in a sedan. They were pursued in a high-octane chase by the Twins (who could phase through solid material), as well as a couple agents.
The chase involved guns, knives and swords, as well as an epic motorcycle dash by Trinity and the Keymaker. Morpheus ended up taking out the Twins in an explosive finale, while Trinity and the Keymaker got away. The cinematography was spot on with a bunch of camera angles keeping you on the edge of your seats. The Wachowskis brilliantly brought the smash-and-grab job to life in one of the franchise’s finest action sequences.
13. NEO’S FIRST WARNING TO THE SYSTEM
A main driver of the “The Matrix” was Neo doubting himself and his destiny. Throughout this movie, we got glimpses of his potential, believing that he could be The One, but his self-doubt played a big factor in limiting himself and his powers. At the film’s end, he finally donned the role he was meant to, to free humanity from this iteration of the Matrix, and after defeating the agents, particularly Smith, he sent a stern warning to them.
Usually, the phone lines were how people transitioned in and out the Matrix, and more so, into Zion in the real world. Neo took the line and let the agents know he was coming and he was going to destroy the system to free his people. He wore a badass black coat and shades, really emphasizing he was living his new role as savior. As he hung up, he flew off like Superman to leave the audience in disbelief, wondering what the extent of his powers were.
12. EVERYBODY WAS KUNG-FU FIGHTING!
It took Neo a while to get accustomed to being unplugged from the Matrix in the first movie. Morpheus’ training session with him was very memorable, as it first showed the audience how the rules could be bent inside the Matrix. We earlier saw Trinity in her frame-freeze action scene while in interrogation, and here Morpheus showed Neo just how combat could be programmed into someone so that they could alter the rules within the Matrix.
We had a lot of fun watching Morpheus teach Neo about guns and bullet-dodging, but this scene really showed how senior Morpheus was, as well as how dangerous someone could be once they knew how to manipulate the rules of the Matrix. By the time he and Neo finished sparring, it was quite a work-out, which ended with Neo’s famous line when he was unplugged from the training simulation. The audience roared when he emerged, in shock, whispering in awe, “I know kung-fu.” It summed up how ludicrous yet awesome the franchise was.
11. MORPHEUS’ RESCUE
Morpheus sacrificed himself to save Neo in “The Matrix” just when Neo felt his destiny was a fraud. Neo and Trinity would then go on a suicide mission to save their mentor, who was being tortured into selling out Zion. This was one of the franchise’s most bombastic sequences as it featured the duo planting bombs, as well as engaging the agents in a rooftop battle that saw that famous bullet-dodging scene from Neo.
It would also see them use a helicopter to rescue Morpheus, with Neo also holding it up from crashing just to save Trinity. This was one of those definitive scenes that left fans gasping and fully embracing that Neo was The One. Morpheus, Trinity and their ship link, Dozer, were left in shock, as well as the agents because it was clear that Neo was now starting to explore the bigger aspects of what he could do with his powers. It also proved to the agents that the resistance was as fearless as ever.
10. THE FIRST ORACLE MEETING
When Neo first met the Oracle, apart from the laughs we got with her offering him cookies, it was a very cerebral mind-trip she put him, as well as all viewers, on. It was very clear Neo, along with Morpheus’ team, wanted to know if he was The One or not. The latter already believed it, but Neo was filled with doubt, which she picked up on, and told him what he needed to hear to really cut him loose and push his boundaries. She told him he wasn’t.
He struggled with the revelation and tried to tell Morpheus, who told him that information was for his ears only and no one else’s. It really took the weight off Neo’s shoulders and was a smart scheme by the Oracle, because right after, the agents raided and captured Morpheus. It was this feeling that Morpheus sacrificed himself for the wrong person which drove Neo to rescue him, and discover there was more to him than met the eye.
9. NEO REVIVES TRINITY
At the end of “Reloaded,” the Keymaker allowed Neo to meet the creator of the Matrix, the Architect. However, the Keymaker ended up being killed while Trinity ended up in danger battling agents. Neo’s conversation with the Architect gave him deep insight into the Matrix and how his future could be shaped, but his focus turned to Trinity. He flew in to save her after she fell off a building, bleeding out after being shot.
If she died in the Matrix, she would die in the real world, so Neo decided to literally take matters into his own hands. He phased through into her body, removed a bullet and jump-started her heart, shocking the audience with his godlike powers. It was a tad corny, but it showed how his capabilities were seemingly limitless inside the Matrix, and it also cemented how much he loved Trinity. It was another wow moment that gave Neo the power of a creator, and showed him not just as an instrument of war.
8. MORPHEUS’ SACRIFICE
Morpheus was a clear believer in Neo from the onset. He knew that he was The One and would do anything to safeguard him. When he took Neo to meet the Oracle, he made sure that the revelations would not be relayed to the team as he felt that was only for his new charge to know. After being compromised, they tried to escape the agents by hiding within the building’s wall, but a traitor ended up selling them out.
The agents started shooting up the wall, but Morpheus warned Trinity to get Neo to safety, and he burst through the wall and decided to fight the villains to buy his unit time. It was a very altruistic moment and proved how loyal he was as a leader. Agent Smith ended up putting Morpheus down and capturing him, but his unrelenting belief in Neo was highly visible. This sacrifice would end up being integral to Neo, not just coming in to rescue his friend, but growing to accept his role as a savior.
7. THE SECOND ORACLE MEETING
When Neo met the Oracle in “Reloaded,” it was a meeting filled with much more detail now that he knew he was The One. She told him of the Keymaker and how he could take Neo to the Source of the Matrix. As her bodyguard, Seraph, watched over them, he realized that she too was part of the Matrix and questioned if he could truly trust her.
She told him that the decision was all his, but deep down he felt he could. After revealing the information about the Merovingian and how to get the Keymaker, her words on how important he was would spur Neo on in the ensuing battle against Smith and his replicas. While the Oracle’s first meeting was just a test, this second one really showed Neo how deep and intricate the Matrix ran, with several cogs shaping things for humanity in ways he was only now beginning to fathom. It was an ominous but necessary meeting.
6. THE ARCHITECT’S RANT
The meeting with the Architect was quite revealing, if not filled with words that required viewers to pull out a dictionary. Neo addressed his concerns with the creator of the Matrix, who set out to intimidate him with the truth. He explained that Neo was part of the design of the sixth iteration of Matrix, and was created to stop the fatal system crash that naturally occurred due to the flawed concept of human choice.
He told Neo that, as with his five predecessors, he could either choose to return to the Source with his unique code (in order to reboot the Matrix) and pick survivors to repopulate the soon-to-be-destroyed Zion, or cause the Matrix to crash and kill everyone connected to it. The latter option, along with Zion’s destruction, would signal mankind’s extinction. Neo found this meeting arrogant but enlightening, and warned that he was all about defiance. He ignored both options and chose to save Trinity instead, while stating he would still find a way to save Zion and end the Matrix’s oppression.
5. TRINITY’S DEATH
At the end of “Reloaded,” Smith infiltrated Zion by taking over the body of a ship-farer called Bane. There, he plotted to destroy Neo, who was now taking a vessel called the Logos, along with Trinity to Machine City in “Revolutions.” He was heading there to stop the incoming attack from sentinels meant to destroy Zion. En route, Bane-Smith ended up stowing away and attacking Neo, blinding him.
Neo retaliated and killed the Smith-infected villain, but as he and Trinity tried to avoid missiles and sentinels to get to Machine City, they ended up crashing. Neo survived, but Trinity didn’t, as she was impaled by the ship’s equipment. In their final moments, they shared a heartbreaking exchange where they professed their love for each other, but more so, Trinity reminded him of her belief. They shared one final kiss, and in this moment she died, leaving Neo to go solo to negotiate with Machine City. This was one of the franchise’s most emotional moments, which showed Neo as highly vulnerable yet still focused on the mission.
4. ATTACK ON ZION
Machine City clearly had an axe to grind in “Revolutions,” and they sent sentinels galore to destroy humanity’s haven. This was a mission they long prepared for and was something Neo, Morpheus and their platoon of ships were struggling to prevent. While Neo went to negotiate, the sentinels invaded in spectacular fashion. In this invasion, Captain Mifune in his APU (a mech-sized combat machine), led the revolt, but the swarm was too great.
He died, but not before telling Kid (an inexperienced trainee) that he too never finished full training, and that the youngster needed to open the gate for a ship, the Hammer, to come in and set off an E.M.P. This destroyed the first wave of sentinels, but the second wave was incoming. The E.M.P. also took out Zion’s defenses, so it was all on Neo to save them. This scene was filled with rabid sentinels and breathtaking C.G.I., and was all about robots unleashed. It felt like a true annihilation wave storming down on Zion, but one that would be met with people ready to fight until their dying breaths.
3. THE TRIP TO MACHINE CITY
Neo entered Machine City in “Revolutions” and warned about Smith’s plans to conquer both the Matrix and the real world. He struck a bargain to stop this rogue program in exchange for peace with Zion, saving it from the sentinels’ wrath. The machines then provided him a connection to enter the Matrix to fight Smith once more and settle things.
This wasn’t just about man versus A.I. It was about creators and gods dealing with things they considered to be viruses, as well as traitors. The philosophies here ran very deep because this peace was only brought about as the machines wanted to preserve themselves. The Oracle told the Architect when the dust cleared that this was a welcomed peacetime, but it was not meant to be permanent due to the nature of both man and machine. It showed the machines also were all about survival and were willing to compromise in a manner that even humans could relate to, as desperate times called for desperate measures.
2. THE ONE IS FINALLY REVEALED
At the end of “The Matrix,” after Morpheus and Trinity escaped, Neo was still stuck inside the Matrix and faced an angry Smith. He lost the fight and was pumped full of bullets. Trinity’s love seemingly brought him back and he ended up unleashing his powers like never before. He froze the agents’ bullets before emphatically beating up on Smith. It ended with an ill-advised move as Neo overwrote his code, thinking this could destroy Smith.
This move allowed Smith to return with new powers in the two sequels, but in the interim, it scared the other agents away. They saw first hand what the power of The One could do, which he ended up warning them about in a phone call later on when he made it clear that it was time to rage against the machine. This was a dominating scene because we hadn’t seen the agents bullied like this. Neo’s one-handed assault on Smith summed up how evolved he was now, and brought hope to Morpheus’ resistance.
1. NEO VS. SMITH: THE FINALE
Neo and the machines tricked Smith, as well as the viewers, in “Revolutions” with a relentless finale. After the machines sent Neo back in the Matrix, he found that Smith had assimilated everyone, even the Oracle. They engaged in a drawn-out battle that tore cities down but Neo succumbed to Smith, who assimilated the hero, too. However, this was a ploy by the machines to get Smith back under control.
Connected to Smith once more, they sent a surge of energy into Neo’s body in the real world, and because Neo was connected to the Source, this was transferred to his body (inhabited by Smith) in the Matrix. With the alpha Smith now destroyed by this surge, the replicas disappeared and everyone was freed from his grip. Neo died in the process, but he saved Zion and Machine City from Smith’s tyranny, bringing true freedom to everyone involved. Humans were now offered the chance to leave the Matrix, which was now rebooted, achieving Neo’s dream of peace. This left the Oracle and Architect impressed, hopeful, yet still tentative about the outcome.
Thoughts on our picks? Let us know in the comments what your favorite moments from “The Matrix” trilogy are!