Filmsite Movie Review
The Matrix (1999)
Pages: (1) (2) (3)
The Story (continued)

Neo's Consultation with the Oracle in the Matrix:

Morpheus announced to the crew that they should prepare to enter into the Matrix through their entry point in the Hotel Lafayette, to take Neo to see her -- the Oracle (Gloria Foster). Seven of the team members (Cypher, Trinity, Morpheus, Neo, Mouse, Apoc and Switch) reclined in the ecto-skeleton chairs (arranged circularly on the hovercraft) and plugged into the Matrix. Tank and Dozer remained onboard and monitored their progress. The seven entered through a hotel delivery area via a hard-wired phone line, and tried to remain invisible. The plan was for everyone to meet back in one hour. It was clear that they would encounter difficulty, when Cypher surreptitiously dropped a cellphone into a garbage can to alert the Agents. Mouse, Apoc, and Switch remained behind at the hotel entry point, while Trinity, Morpheus, Cypher and Neo drove away in a black 1964 Lincoln Continental.

At their destination, a tenement building, Neo and Morpheus took an elevator to an upper-floor apartment of the Oracle - she was 'very old' and had been around since the start of the Resistance movement. Morpheus explained to Neo that as a psychic, she would help guide Neo on his own personal path: "She is a guide, Neo. She can help you to find the path....I told you I can only show you the door. You have to walk through it." A Priestess (Deni Gordon) opened the door, just as Neo reached for the reflective door knob.

There were other young child Potentials in the outer living room, showing their gifted powers of levitating wooden alphabet blocks, bending spoons, etc.

[Note: A TV screen in the background was broadcasting an excerpt from Night of the Lepus (1972) - showing giant bunnies running wild in a street. It was another reference to the 'white rabbit' Alice in Wonderland symbol. The scene of meeting the children paid homage to a similar scene at the end of the classic anime Akira (1988, Jp.).]

The orphaned individuals were named Potentials because they were in an intermediate stage (before taking a red pill) and would soon be unplugged and liberated from the Matrix. One very gifted Potential (in the credits known as Spoon Boy - Rowan Witt) showed Neo how to bend a spoon, and then imparted wisdom about how the spoon was just computer code and not actually real:

"Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth...There is no spoon...Then you'll see that it is not the spoon that bends. It is only yourself."

Neo met the Oracle in a kitchen (with a green color scheme) next to a stove where she was baking cookies, and then uncharacteristically smoking a cigarette. [Note: Duke Ellington's "I'm Beginning to See the Light" was playing softly in the background.] With some foresight, she implied that he would break a vase with his powers - and he did. She asked the film's central question: "Do you think you are the One?" When Neo was unsure, she pointed out a carved wooden aphorism mounted above the door: "TEMET NOSCE" - meaning: "Know Thyself." [Note: The same inscription was above the entrance to the Delphic Oracle in ancient Greece.]

The Oracle told Neo about the process of being the One:

"Being the One is just like being in love. No one can tell you you're in love. You just know it, through and through. Balls to bones."

But then she mentioned that he might not be the One - the prophesied, gifted individual who would lead the insurrection of enslaved humans against the machines: "You got the gift, but it looks like you're waiting for something," even though Morpheus was firmly convinced of Neo's unique gifts:

"Morpheus believes in you, Neo. And no one, not you, not even me, can convince him otherwise. He believes it so blindly, that he's going to sacrifice his life to save yours."

She forecast that Neo would soon have a momentous choice to make: "You're going to have to make a choice" - between Morpheus' life and his own life ("One of you is going to die. Which one will be up to you"). [Note: The choice was similar to the one that Neo made between the blue and red pill in Morpheus' outstretched hands.] She finished their conversation with a prediction that he would be in charge of his own fateful choices in life:

"Don't worry about it. As soon as you step outside that door, you'll start feeling better. You'll remember you don't believe in any of this fate crap. You're in control of your own life. Remember."

She offered him a freshly-baked cookie to make him feel less confused, and he took a few bites. Morpheus wished for Neo to keep the Oracle's advice to himself: "What was said was for you and for you alone."

Morpheus' Capture While Exiting from the Matrix:

When they left the Oracle's apartment and returned to their Matrix entry point at the hotel, they attempted to safely exit but they didn't know that their hard-wired phone cable (and connection line) was about to be cut by heavy-duty bolt cutters, due to Cypher's betrayal. As they climbed the hotel stairs, Neo noticed a black cat crossing his path -- and then saw a second identical black cat move the same way, and exclaimed: "Whoa, deja vu!" - Trinity interpreted it as a "glitch in the Matrix when they change something." Back on the hovercraft, Tank realized it was a trap - (their exit through the 8th floor wall was bricked up), and the group was ambushed by a combination of Agents and SWAT team members. On the 13th floor, Mouse was cornered and killed by a barrage of machine-gun fire. Tank was contacted to send a structural drawing of the building so the rest of the group could locate the main "wet-wall." The group proceeded to an 8th floor tiled bathroom to hide inside the main plumbing wall of the building, and crawl down its pipes. Cypher sneezed due to the dust, alerting the Agents to their location in the wall.

When Agent Smith thrust his hand through the wall and grabbed Neo, Morpheus chose to stay and fight hand-to-hand against Agent Smith. He ultimately succumbed and was taken captive by police officers. His sacrifice had allowed the others to escape down the narrow wall shaft and through a basement grating and into the street through a manhole cover. The rebels raced to their nearest "exit" from the Matrix - at an old TV repair shop at Franklin and Erie. Separated from the others, Cypher reached the exit point first, answered a ringing phone, and was transported back onboard the Nebuchadnezzar. Immediately, he sabotaged everyone else's escape by firing a high-tech plasma-phaser rifle at the two operators, Tank and Dozer, who were at the controls trying to safely transport the others. Dozer was killed while Tank was seriously hurt. In the repair shop, as Neo reached for a ringing phone, the line went dead - the remainder of the team was now stranded in the Matrix.

The Deadly Stand-off With Cypher:

Trinity then phoned back and reached Cypher, who revealed his unrequited love for her - he was speaking to her in two places - on the phone and on the hovercraft while creepily staring down at her body in one of the chairs: "For a long time, I thought I was in love with you. I used to dream about you. You're a beautiful woman, Trinity. Too bad things had to turn out this way." He divulged his desire to live in the Matrix after becoming tired of everything, including Morpheus' leadership:

"I'm tired of this war. I'm tired of fighting. I'm tired of this ship. Being cold, of eating the same goddamn goop every day. But most of all, I'm tired of that jack-off and all of his bulls--t."

He then moved over to Morpheus in his chair, and expressed how pleased he was with himself for betraying Morpheus, although he wished he could be present to witness Morpheus being broken down by the Agents. Cypher's admission tipped off Trinity to his sabotage of their mission. Cypher was disdainful of Morpheus' alleged lies and his talk of red and blue pills: ("You call this free? If I had to choose between that and the Matrix, I'd choose the Matrix....I think the Matrix can be more real than this world").

Cypher disagreed with Trinity - he believed that the Matrix was actually real, and to demonstrate his belief, he angrily pulled the plug on Apoc. He didn't understand, however, that once he was "out," it was impossible for him to "go back." He had been fed lies by Agent Smith about what would happen to him after the betrayal: "I go back to sleep, and when I wake up, I won't remember a god-damn thing." Trinity begged, but was unable to dissuade Cypher from also pulling the plug on Switch. Afterwards, he quipped: "Don't hate me, Trinity. I'm just a messenger." He dared to make his next target Neo ("The One): ("If Neo's the one, then there'd have to be some kind of a miracle to stop me, right? I mean, how can he be the One if he's dead?") - and then Tank miraculously revived, killed traitorous Cypher, and brought back Trinity and Neo.

Agent Smith's Questioning of Morpheus:

Wounded and restrained and now captured, Morpheus was hand-cuffed and chained to a chair in an office in a military-controlled, high-rise downtown building (within the Matrix) by sinister Agent Smith and other agents. He was hooked up to monitors by electrodes. Now with Morpheus in front of him as a captive audience, Agent Smith looked out at the city and delivered the film's central monologue, glorifying the almost-perfect beauty of the world of the Matrix - with horrifying implications for the "oblivious" humans. He lectured Morpheus about how the era of humans, like the dinosaur, was ending:

"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 believed 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 as soon as we started thinking for you, it really became our civilization, which is, of course, what this is all about. Evolution, Morpheus. Evolution. Like the dinosaur. Look out that window. You had your time. The future is our world, Morpheus. The future is our time."

Morpheus was injected with a virus-like serum to break down his neuro-system and enable 'hacking into' his mind, to extract the access codes to Zion's mainframe computer - and thereby destroy the rebels' cause. During the questioning that would inevitably weaken and crack into Morpheus' mind, Tank proposed pulling the plug on him - to kill him before he revealed the codes, but Neo dissuaded him. At the same time, Agent Smith noted how their human informant (Cypher) had failed, although they had a fall-back plan -- a Sentinel strike against Morpheus' hovercraft.

Neo realized that the Oracle's prediction was true - that he would have to make a choice between two lives. He decided to enter back into the Matrix and attempt the suicidal rescue of Morpheus. He also affirmed that he was NOT the One - "I'm sorry, I'm not. I'm just another guy," but that his mission would succeed:

"Morpheus believes something, and he was ready to give his life for what he believed. I understand that now. That's why I have to go....Because I believe in something....I believe I can bring him back."

Meanwhile, Agent Smith continued his monologue with Morpheus about how the human mammal was a "disease" - "a cancer of this planet. You are a plague. And we are the cure."

"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 a natural 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. And 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."

Slightly later when Agent Smith requested to be alone with Morpheus, he removed his sunglasses and earpiece (to disconnect himself and bypass his programming), to privately express his disgust, disdain and frustrations about the Matrix, Morpheus and the entire human race. It was his devious ploy to engender diabolical sympathy for his cause, and to convince Morpheus to divulge the access codes that would allow entry to the mainframe of Zion - the unplugged humans' subterranean refuge in the real world:

"Can you hear me, 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've somehow been infected by it. It's repulsive. (He wiped sweat from Morpheus' bald head and forehead onto the tips of his fingers, and had Morpheus smell it.) Isn't it? (He tightly held Morpheus' head between his hands) 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. Do you understand? I need the codes. I have to get inside Zion and you have to tell me how. You're gonna tell me or you're gonna die." (He pressed his fingers into Morpheus' flesh)

The Rescue of Morpheus from The Matrix:

Rather than accept Tank's proposal to pull the plug on Morpheus, Neo and Trinity (who was the "ranking officer" and insisted on volunteering to help Neo) made plans to return to the Matrix to rescue Morpheus. Neo was following the Oracle's advice about making a choice, and was confident that their surprise attack would work:

Trinity: "No one has ever done anything like this.
Neo: "That's why it's going to work."

In the Construct VR environment, Tank loaded them up with an arsenal of guns on a rack before they re-entered the Matrix. Wearing dark sunglasses, Neo first appeared with a close-up of his black boots as they echoed on the marble-tile floor of the lobby of the high-rise where Morpheus was being held. At the onset of a spectacular action sequence, Neo entered the high-tech security screening station area monitored by a group of soldiers-guards. His black duffel bag set off alarms in the metal detector conveyor belt, as he simultaneously revealed his collection of guns, weapons, and grenades attached to a body harness beneath his long black trenchcoat. Neo and Trinity (also with a trenchcoat and sunglasses) easily circumvented security and quickly massacred all of the officers during a massive shoot-out. Heavily armed, the two proceeded to the building's elevators where they also took on a second wave of armed back-up officers. Gravity-defying, Trinity scaled one of the walls sideways as she fired her double-fisted repeater-guns and used karate-kicks to disarm her opponents. Shards of the concrete building pillars flew everywhere from the intense gunfire, as Neo performed mid-air hand-stands and kicks while firing his multiple weapons.

After stopping the building's elevator at the 41st floor level, Trinity removed a metal case from her duffel bag that held an explosive plastique bomb and timer. They climbed atop the elevator and after locking onto the elevator shaft cable, the two propelled themselves upwards (after severing the cable) and soon emerged on the building's rooftop, while the main elevator compartment fell (as a counter-balance) to the ground floor lobby and produced a massive blast. Notified about their illegal entry and attempt to rescue Morpheus, Agent Smith ordered: "Find them and destroy them." The building's electricity power was cut, and automatic sprinklers activated.

There on the rooftop during another gripping showdown sequence, Neo and Trinity fought off another major onslaught of guards. A helicopter pilot reported the emergency: "We are under attack," when suddenly he dissolved as shape-shifting Agent Jones (Robert Taylor) rendered himself on to his figure, and stepped onto the roof. Neo altered his perception of reality so dramatically (with his understanding that everything was just code) that he defied gravity - he saw bullets in flight ("bullet-time") in order to dodge and twist away from them, by bending backwards from his knees. Neo exhibited mid-air, limbo-style freeze-frames while dodging the CGI bullet shots during the super-heroic gunfight. However, Neo was shot twice - in his right shoulder and thigh. As Jones stood over him to execute him ("Only human"), he heard a click and turned - to see Trinity holding a .45 caliber gun to his head. She bluntly told him: "Dodge this!" and shot him dead. Expired and on the ground, Agent Jones transformed back into the dead pilot.

Tank uploaded a pilot-flying program into Trinity, so that she could take the controls of the parked B-212 helicopter - it was to be used for Morpheus' rescue and for their escape. In the room where Morpheus had been detained, the three Agents turned to the wall of windows on one end of the room to see the helicopter dropping down in front of them. Neo raked the windows and the Agents with blasts from a mounted machine-gun on the chopper, sending empty bullet casings flowing in a cascade. Crashing glass allowed Neo to get a clear view of Morpheus chained to his chair, and he called out: "Morpheus, Get up. Get up!" The delirious and dazed Morpheus slowly opened his eyes, snapped his handcuffs, rose up, and dove through the opening toward the helicopter, but midway, he was shot in the leg by Agent Smith. When Neo realized that Morpheus wasn't going to make the jump, he leapt from the helicopter and grabbed Morpheus in mid-air. Both collided and then dangled from the end of an umbilical cord-like rope attached to Neo's harness that was also attached to the helicopter. Neo was able to reach down and grab Morpheus' wrist as Trinity piloted them up and away. Agent Smith took aim and shot at the copter, puncturing the fuel tank and causing an alarm to sound. With Neo and Morpheus still dangling from the end of the rope, Trinity attempted to land the distressed, smoking chopper. She was able to deposit each of them safely on a rooftop, but her own life was in jeopardy. Neo also came to Trinity's rescue from certain death when the helicopter crashed in a fireball, and he was able to extract her and pull her to safety.

Witnessing all of this, Tank came to the realization: "I knew it. He's the One." Morpheus was also assured that Neo was the One: "Do you believe it now, Trinity?" And he reminded Neo of his future destiny, no matter what he thought the Oracle had guided him to do:

"She (the Oracle) told you exactly what you needed to hear. That's all. Neo, sooner or later, you're going to realize just as I did, there's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path."

Frustrated by their escape, the Agents ordered a 'real world' strike on the Nebuchadnezzar to commence. The group was exiting the Matrix at a grimy, graffiti-covered subway station at State and Balboa, when Trinity paused to confide in Neo that everything the Oracle had told her so far had come true - except for one thing that was yet to happen. However, before finishing her sentence, she was interrupted by the loud passage of a subway train, the ringing of the phone, and an ambush by Agent Smith, who rendered himself onto a homeless person sleeping on the platform. Neo found himself face-to-face with the threatening Agent Smith. Trinity barely escaped from the Matrix, and left behind a splintered phone receiver dangling in the booth from Smith's gunfire.

Neo's Final Confrontation with Agent Smith - His Death and Revival:

Neo and Agent Smith commenced a climactic confrontation in the abandoned, underground subway station. The two stood face to face at a distance from each other for a quick-draw contest, as in a western gunfighter shoot-out on a dusty street. They soared toward each other and engaged in a long kick-boxing struggle (involving some gravity-defying mid-air conflict, vicious, furious and rapidly-delivered karate-kicks and fist jabs, dodging of bullets, and more "bullet-time" acrobatics). Neo refused to give up (and face "inevitability" and death), although he was severely pummeled by the Agent, and held in a choke-hold and head-lock as a speeding subway train approached toward them on the tracks. Enraged by being repeatedly called "Mr. Anderson," Neo responded with rage: "My name is Neo!", and turned the tables on Agent Smith. He jumped up, released Smith's grip, backflipped off the tracks onto the platform, and left Smith to be run-over by the oncoming train that screeched to a halt -- but then the Agent reappeared from the last train car when he stepped onto the platform. Neo fled from the station on foot, stole a Businessman's (Jeremy Ball) phone, and called Tank for an exit: "Mr. Wizard, get me the hell out of here."

Proximity warnings and red alerts sounded, with only five-six minutes of time left before the Nebuchadnezzar would be forced to fire its emergency self-destruct system (EMP), to fight off a convergence attack of Sentinels. Morpheus knew he must stall until Neo emerged from the Matrix, although the Sentinels were beginning to breach the hovercraft's thick hull.

Neo was instructed to find another Matrix exit at Wabash and Lake, but was furiously pursued by a group of agents led by Agent Smith through an open market with vendors and crowds of pedestrians. He ran down an alley, kicked in a back door to a tenement building, chased up some stairs to a hallway, entered an elderly tenant's apartment, and jumped down from a fire-escape into a pile of garbage, but he couldn't shake the Agents. He was finally able to reach the Heart O' The City Hotel, where he scrambled up the exterior metal fire-escape. Smith shot directly at point blank range into Neo's chest as he entered Room 303 on the third floor (where a phone was ringing), and the single cartridge shell noisily fell to the floor (in close-up). Neo looked down at his bloody fingers after touching the hole in his chest. A second shot propelled him backwards into the hallway and against the wall. Smith then emptied his revolver, point-blank, into Neo's body and he slumped to the floor. His mind was still alive, but he was dying.

Onboard the hovercraft in the real world, Neo's body shook as he was hit, and monitors reported that he was dead. And in the Matrix, after Neo's heartbeat was checked, an Agent pronounced: "He's gone." Smith spoke: "Goodbye, Mr. Anderson," as the agents departed down the hallway. But Neo's love interest Trinity refused to believe his death - she whispered to 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."

A kiss from Trinity's lips miraculously revived him in the Matrix, his heartbeat was restored, and his vital signs returned. His eyes flickered open as he regained consciousness. She commanded him: "Now get up!" He stood up, raised his arm, and the palm of his hand effortlessly resisted and repelled more of the Agents' bullets in mid-air, who had turned and were firing at him. Reborn as the One, Neo finally understood that the bullets were not real - the bullets, frozen in mid-air, dropped harmlessly to the floor of the hallway. He saw the Matrix as it really was -- solely downward-streaming columns of green computer code (or 'digital rain').

In the film's climax, Neo finally realized that he was actually the One, who could singlehandedly conquer, vanquish, and literally destroy Agent Smith. Neo thwarted the Agent's goal to stop him from getting out of the Matrix, by literally entering into him and bursting his code. The Matrix could now be controlled. When the remainder of the Agents realized that they were defeated, they fled. Neo was able to reach the ringing phone and leave the Matrix just in time - to return to the Nebuchadnezzar as the menacing "Sentinel" machines were attacking and destroying the hovercraft. The crew disabled the Sentinels by deploying the ship's Electro-Magnetic Pulse weapon. It produced a blinding blast of white light to repel and kill off the Sentinels before they could completely damage the craft. In the stillness, Trinity and Neo again kissed.

Epilogue:

In the film's short epilogue, a green cursor moved on a black screen, as Neo made a telephone call from a phone booth in a busy part of the downtown area, within the green-tinged Matrix, to the machine masters who were imprisoning humans. During the ominous call (considered an anomaly), it was automatically being traced.

In voice-over, Neo threatened to expose the machine masters, and promised to save the people imprisoned in the Matrix and create a new world. His words were visible as racing columns of descending green code. During the call, the screen froze with a warning: "SYSTEM FAILURE" - and as he continued to speak, the words enlarged during a slow zoom-in:

"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'm going to hang up this phone, and then I'm going to 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."

At the end of the call, the camera pulled back from a close-up of the holes in the mouthpiece of the phone. Neo hung up the phone, stepped out of the booth, observed the pedestrians moving about on the street, donned his sunglasses, looked up, and unbound by the rules of reality, flew off straight up into the sky, like Superman - with his trenchcoat trailing behind him.


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