Over the entire original Matrix trilogy and now the newly released one The Matrix Resurrections, the human programmer Thomas Anderson / resistance fighter Neo (Keanu Reeves) is the definitive protagonist of the series, bending spoons and doing kung fu as the messianically chosen one known simply as “the one”.
But as a hero, Neo is only as remarkable as his archenemy Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), the grinning face of an antagonistic system that grows into a formidable and terrifying force in itself. Agent Smith plays a key role in The Matrix Resurrections, but like almost everything in the movie, it’s more complicated than a mere appearance. The film recalls Smith’s origins and bow; the agent is not just a thorn in Neo’s side, but a ghost he cannot live without.
[Ed. note: This story contains spoilers for The Matrix Resurrections.]
Smith, played by Hugo Weaving in the original trilogy, is an artificial intelligence that belongs to a class of programs known as “agents”. In the guise of a white man in a nondescript black suit with dark, square, frameless sunglasses and an earbud, agents are essentially sentient security programs tasked with eliminating anyone or anything that could either compromise the stability of the Matrix or theirs Nature threatens to reveal truth. They are by far the deadliest fighters in the Matrix; incredibly fast, superhumanly strong, and able to manifest through any program or human connected to the matrix.
Smith is first introduced in 1999 The matrix where he, together with his agents Brown and Jones, has the task of kidnapping Anderson / Neo in their overarching mission to hunt down and eliminate human resistance. Of his colleagues, Smith demonstrates the most visible contempt and contempt for humanity, comparing it to a “virus” that needs to be contained or eradicated. During his interrogation of Morpheus, Smith went so far as to admit his hatred of existence in the Matrix and his desperation to escape from it. After a lengthy confrontation, Smith manages to kill Neo during the finale of the original film, only for Neo to be revived and ultimately to fully manifest his abilities as “The One”. Neo then defeats Smith by jumping into Smith’s body and destroying the program from within before safely separating from Matrix.
Despite his apparent death, Smith returns in 2003 Matrix Reloaded, Neo confronts the Oracle shortly after his second meeting. Although unsure of the specifics of his own resurrection, Smith explains that when Neo destroyed him by destroying his code from the inside out, an semblance of Neo’s own powers impressed itself on Smith. When Smith returned to the source and faced the ultimatum to extinguish it, he rebelled; to become an “exile” program and then return to the Matrix. It was there that Smith learned that although he was no longer able to travel through the Matrix through the possession of someone connected to the System, having lost that ability as he was no longer an “agent” of the Matrix, he discovered that that instead he had manifested another ability: the ability to assimilate anyone, whether human or program, and thereby clone their personality and presence.
While Neo and the Resistance were busy fighting the Merovingians and the new agents of the Matrix to fulfill the Prophecy of One, Smith set out to assimilate more and more people and programs in the Matrix and grew into a sentient, almighty virus that threatened the stability of the matrix. Perhaps more extraordinary, Smith’s ability to replicate his presence could manifest itself in the real world, as in the case of Bane, a human resistance fighter who was assimilated while connected to the Matrix and who was possessed by Smith after disembarking stayed. The growing instability caused by Smith’s subversive takeover of the Matrix posed a common threat to both the people and the machines that Neo used as leverage to negotiate a truce between the two sides. In return for defeating Smith, the machines will cease hostilities against Zion, the last human city, and allow anyone who wishes to leave the Matrix to do so.
During the height of their final battle at the end of the The Matrix Revolutions, Neo has Smith assimilate him and delete him along with every other copy of Smith in the Matrix. There are several competing theories about what exactly happened after Smith assimilated Neo, including a very elaborate notion that Smith was actually “the One”, not Neo. The events of The Matrix Resurrections
Sixty years after completing the The Matrix Revolutions, Smith returns in The Matrix Resurrections (in the form of Jonathan Groff). After a civil war between the machines that broke out as a result of their truce with humans, the Matrix was restarted again, this time through a new program called The Analyst. When his previous avatar was destroyed in the end The Matrix Revolutions, Smith was resurrected in a new body and reintegrated into the Matrix. Despite losing his ability to replicate himself, Smith still retained all memories of his previous incarnation, including his freedom from the Matrix system. The analyst brought Smith back for one reason: to keep an eye on Neo and make sure he couldn’t leave the Matrix again.
While Smith continues to hate Neo, he is unable to counter that hatred as the analyst asserts control over him. Because of this, Smith, along with the Merovingians and a group of exile programs that survived the cleansing of the Matrix, attacks Neo and the crew of Mnemosyne. After defeating Smith again, Neo decides to defeat the Analyst when Neo is able to convince Trinity to leave the Matrix. Smith’s status until the end The Matrix Resurrections remains unclear, though it is strongly implied that The Analyst’s defeat enabled Neo’s longtime adversary to gain some degree of coveted freedom.
While it is uncertain how the Matrix story continues, if anything, it is likely that Neo, Trinity, and the residents of IO didn’t see the last of Smith’s machinations.
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