The Matrix Trilogy
Played by Keanu ReevesThe protagonist of the trilogy, a hacker who eventually liberates humanity from the Matrix. Soft-spoken and reclusive, Neo is initially confused when he is torn out of the Matrix by strangers. Morpheus and his followers look up to Neo, thrust major responsibility onto him, and seem to know all about him, but he has little idea why he has been chosen as the object of their admiration. As the trilogy progresses, Neo becomes more sure of himself as he accepts and nurtures his newfound abilities. Neo is a unique kind of superman: healthy, but not overmuscled; strong, but not especially masculine. He assumes responsibility but gives no lectures on moral goodness, and he doesn’t shy away from violence when it’s necessary. His character develops gradually from passivity toward action, until he finally initiates conflict in order to bring about resolution.
Played by Carrie-Anne MossThe underground hacker who first contacts Neo and later becomes his lover. Trinity is a force of quiet intensity and utter confidence. She plays a crucial role in the first Matrix, when she resurrects Neo from the dead. Trinity is extremely loyal, and she is ready to die for Neo not long after meeting him. Her physical fighting skills are top-notch, and she tends to pilot the helicopters, drive the luxury vehicles, and speed on the motorcycles when in the Matrix. In the Matrix, she always wears black leather or latex, and with her closely cropped hair she appears both androgynous and attractive.
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Played by Laurence FishburneThe brooding and mysterious leader of the Nebuchadnezzar, a renegade ship. A tall, strong presence, Morpheus leads his crew bravely, delivering inspiring speeches and exhibiting utter calm in the face of every challenge. His physical size and rock-solid confidence make him an anchor for the ragtag crew of the Nebuchadnezzar. Morpheus is one of the first people to believe Neo is the One, and, since his faith in Neo has always been strong, Morpheus will go to any lengths to protect him. Morpheus is willing to die for Neo, but Neo is determined not to let this happen. Morpheus sports stylish sunglasses in the Matrix that consist only of lenses and a nose bridge.
Read an in-depth analysis of Morpheus.
Played by Hugo WeavingThe most important Agent, who proves to be Neo’s foil. Able to inhabit any body in the Matrix, Agents Smith, Brown, and Jones are literally no one and everyone. Smith is the most dangerous and powerful, and he proves to be much different from the other Agents. Over the course of the trilogy he develops humanlike anxiety that becomes increasingly desperate and egocentric. Initially he represents only inevitable death, but eventually he develops a personality, a blend of sarcasm and incomprehension of the program in which he’s an anomaly. Smith, like the other Agents, wears a standard gray business suit, sunglasses, and a white earpiece through which he assimilates the information of the Matrix’s code. Smith manages to replicate himself a million-fold, rendering himself Neo’s toughest, most persistent enemy.
Played by Gloria Foster (The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded) and Mary Alice (The Matrix Revolutions)The gentle seer who guides the freed minds through the complex world of the Matrix. In a trilogy filled with stereotyped characters, the Oracle takes on the most stereotypical form of them all, that of the wise and kindly grandmother who bakes cookies in a tenement apartment. The Oracle moves slowly around her cozy green kitchen, drags pensively on her cigarettes, and conducts conversations that are alternately circuitous and direct. She often roots through her purse for hard candy to suck on. She is a source of faith and belief for Morpheus, and of maternal guidance for Neo. The Oracle doesn’t determine Neo’s fate, but she helps him realize for himself what his path should be.
Read an in-depth analysis of The Oracle.
Created by the special effects teamComputer-generated, squidlike robots programmed to seek and destroy humans. The Sentinels are all eyes, slithering pads of searching, red, electromagnetic sensors. Their many surveillance mechanisms make them highly sensitive. Their responses are terrifyingly fast, and their aerodynamic tentacles can either entangle a helpless victim immediately or extend back into a cometlike tail for pursuit. When they appear en masse through the dome of Zion, they resemble plague of locusts, intent on bringing extinction.
Played by Joe PantolianoThe mustached, snakeskin-jacket-clad, traitorous crewmember of the Nebuchadnezzar. The anxious Cypher accepts his role as a traitor over a last supper in the Matrix, savoring his juicy steak. He can no longer tolerate the depressing grind and tasteless gruel aboard the Nebuchadnezzar, and in exchange for betraying Morpheus, he expects to be granted a happy return to the Matrix, with no memory of the real world. He prefers the illusion to reality. His name suggests both the number zero and the act of making or breaking codes. His reptile-skin jacket hints that he is a serpent or tempter, but unlike the serpent in Genesis, he covets blissful ignorance rather than knowledge.
Played by Lambert WilsonThe pompous and refined computer program who was a previous incarnation of the One. A very campy and entertaining character—and a bit of a ham—the Merovingian deliberately overemphasizes his French, delivers portentous lectures on causality, and professes to have lost all faith in all things human. He dresses impeccably in tight, expensive suits and sits as if on a throne, next to his voluptuous wife, Persephone, whom he treats as a trophy. His wife’s name, among other things, suggests that he corresponds to the lord of the underworld in Greek mythology. Having failed in other realms and given himself over to the thirst for power in his own, he is interested only in exploring poetic, subtle exploitations of that power, and in maintaining it. His name refers to a seventh-century Frankish dynasty of suspicious kings who stayed within their own kingdom, distributed power in a hierarchy, and believed themselves to be descendants of Christ. Neo attempts to persuade the Merovingian to help him find the Keymaker.
Played by Randall Duk KimThe apron-wearing entity imprisoned by the Merovingian who holds the key to the Source. Believing that his only purpose is to deliver this key to the One, the humble, big-hearted Keymaker grinds away in a small closet filled with keys, waiting for the day of his calling. When it comes, he fulfills that purpose with serenity, conveying necessary information and organizing the renegades with acumen. Short and hunched, he contrasts with the muscular figures and sleek styles of the rest of the warriors in the Matrix. The keys to practically anything that needs to be started or opened are tangled somewhere around his waist, though he wears the most important key around his neck.
Played by Harry LennixThe hardened military chief in charge of Zion’s home defense. An exasperated, tight-shouldered man, Lock believes in Zion and attempts to defend it the way he was trained, with as much fortification and as clear a plan as possible. He always pursues the proper channels when relaying his orders and voicing his opinions, but he has little room for creativity or hope in his desperate plans. Jealousy over Captain Niobe eventually starts to eat away at his normally confident demeanor.
Played by Jada Pinkett SmithAn expert pilot and captain of Zion’s ship, the Logos. Niobe, whose name refers to a mortal who suffers a tragic fate in Greek mythology (she was a queen of Thebes who had to watch all her children and her husband die), embodies intensity, individualism, and courageousness more successfully than the other captains. She makes her decisions based on her own beliefs and instincts, and she allies with, and is swayed by, no one. She is both a skilled military asset and a source of contention between Morpheus and Lock.
Played by Helmut BakaitisThe dignified, white-suited, and white-bearded creator of the Matrix. A nonhuman figure of vast intelligence, the Architect cannot completely hide either his slight disgust for the weaknesses of humanity or his intense interest in investigating its behavioral patterns. He is so powerful that the mere clicking of a pen completely transforms the wall of monitors behind Neo in his room. As the creator of the Matrix, he strikes a Godlike figure, but the Architect operates on a different plane of morality. In Gnostic theology, Satan, rather than God, created the world and formed its sufferings and burdens to shackle humanity. Since the Architect provokes the coming Armageddon, he likely represents the Gnostic Satan instead of God.
Played by Collin ChouThe tranquil, angelic spirit who protects the Oracle. Seraph first appears in a flowing white shirt, sitting cross-legged in meditation upon a wooden table in a sparse temple room. Seraph is a martial arts expert and tests Neo when he comes to visit the Oracle. His name refers to the seraphim of Christian theology, the highest order of angels. Composed of pure light, the seraphim communicate directly with God, since they are the caretakers of God’s throne. Seraph always wears sunglasses.
Played by Marcus ChongThe initial Operator of the Nebuchadnezzar. A friendly and muscular man, Tank serves Morpheus loyally and believes in his leadership.
Played by Anthony Ray ParkerTank’s more muscular brother and fellow Nebuchadnezzar crew member. When Dozer and Tank appear together, they may obliquely recall James and John, the brothers who were both apostles of Christ.
Played by Harold PerrineauTank’s replacement as Operator aboard the Nebuchadnezzar. Initially a doubter, Link serves as a register of burgeoning faith as he personally witnesses Neo’s increasingly unbelievable achievements. As a volunteer from Zion, Link suggests a connection to the human homeland. He fights for the love of his wife, Zee.
Played by Nona GayeLink’s strong and careworn wife in Zion, and the sister of Tank and Dozer. Essentially stuck in a small, dreary compartment, the winsome Zee exudes a quiet integrity and inner strength after having survived trial after trial. She is superstitious and gives Link a good luck charm when he reboards the Nebuchadnezzar.
Played by Tanveer K. AtwalThe young Indian child who escapes the Matrix through a deal her parents make with the Merovingian. Sati is a program, not a human. Wide-eyed and clear-speaking, she represents the future of humanity after Armageddon. Her parents’ love for her surprises Neo, who had assumed programs were incapable of human emotions such as love. Sati’s name perhaps refers to an Indian widow who bears the burden of following her husband in death at the funeral pyre, forced by the pressures of society or hallucinogenic drugs. At the end of the trilogy, Sati creates a stunning sunrise for Neo.
Played by Bernard WhiteThe father of Sati. Rama-Kandra, a program, makes a deal with the Merovingian to save his daughter’s life.
Played by Tharini MudaliarThe mother of Sati. Kamala, a program, makes a deal with the Merovingian to save her daughter’s life.
Played by Bruce SpenceThe grungy creator and operator of a limbo world in between the Matrix and the real world. Sporting a dirty jacket, long, unkempt hair, and an angular sunken face, the Trainman looks like a homeless derelict but actually reveals himself to be an ingenious programmer who loses himself in his invisible world of subway trains. He sometimes smuggles programs between the Matrix and the real world. His decisions are always contingent on those of his boss, the Merovingian.
Played by Monica BelluciThe Merovingian’s curvaceous, alluring wife. Mostly silent around her devilish and loquacious husband, Persephone wallows in the loss of his human passion and their true love. Jealous of her husband’s attention to a virtual woman, Persephone betrays him by leading Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus to the Keymaker in exchange for a kiss from Neo. In Greek mythology, Persephone became the goddess of the underworld when Hades kidnapped her and took her below. The Merovingian’s Persephone also lurks beside her husband in Club Hell, and she is thrilled by Trinity’s commitment to die for Neo.
Played by David RobertsThe captain of Zion’s ship the Hammer. A gray-haired, drawn-mouthed officer, Roland seems more human than the rest of his inspired captains. He thinks logically, makes mistakes, and changes his mind. He behaves like a kindly career military official.
Played by Matt DoranThe young techno-whiz who creates the Nebuchadnezzar’s training programs. Mouse was an original member of Morpheus’s crew, and his excitability justifies his name. An incredibly intelligent philosopher-savant, he enjoys bringing up human concerns appropriate to his age level, such as sex and the taste of cereal.
Played by Anthony ZerbeThe aging Elder of Zion, fond of prattling good-naturedly. Hamann is a kind of wild card on the Council. His approach to issues balances the wisdom of his age and experience with the irrationality of hope and faith.
Played by Neil and Adrian RaymentThe powder-skinned, white-suited, white-dreadlocked bodyguards of the Merovingian. The shape-shifting Twins remain almost wordless through much of The Matrix Reloaded, but when they do speak, their calm British accents attest to their solidarity with the Merovingian in terms of smooth style and haughty decorum. The Twins look and act like something out of Ghostbusters, and they exemplify the Oracle’s claim that the ghosts and monsters of legend are actually anomalous programs.
Played by Ian BlissThe crewmember of a Zion ship whom Agent Smith replicates himself into to enter the real world. With a goateed, shady face, Bane/Smith speaks with Smith’s considered affect but maintains Bane’s physical exterior. Bane/Smith lurks around the cabin and appears suspicious right from Smith’s first infiltration. His face lends Smith a new mask of terror late in the trilogy.
Voiced by Kevin M. RichardsonThe ultimate spirit at the heart of the Machine City, which takes the form of swarms of metallic insects. A face of light rising above the thick cables of the City, Deus ex Machina, sets up Neo’s final confrontation with Agent Smith when Neo has the courage to address him. Latin for “god from the machine,” the name is likely used ironically in the credits, since the entity is never addressed by name during the film. In Greek and Roman theater, a god would often suddenly emerge from the rafters to resolve a plot that had tangled itself impossibly or save characters who were in hopeless situations. In more recent works, it refers to any contrived or artificial device that ends a story in a manner that doesn’t follow logically from the plot.
Played by Nathaniel LeesThe extremely intense Zionite patriot who battles with his men on the front lines of the dock. With a seemingly bottomless pit of passion, Mifune screams and yells and ripples his biceps throughout much of The Matrix Revolutions.
Played by Clayton WatsonThe eager youngster passionate about Zion’s dock defense. Initially nervous and excitable, the Kid learns to stay calm and get the job done in battle, in the face of dying comrades and swarms of sentinels.
Played by Steve BastoniThe stolid captain of Zion’s ship the Vigilant. Captain Soren admirably volunteers with Niobe to ascertain the fate of the Nebuchadnezzar.
Played by Belinda McCloryAn original crewmember of the Nebuchadnezzar. In contrast to the rest of the Nebuchadnezzar’s crew, Switch wears crisp, clean, all-white suits and sports a spiked blond hairdo.
Played by Essie DavisThe red-haired medical advisor on the Hammer. Maggie is murdered by Bane/Smith.
Played by Robyn NevinThe regal and authoritative director of Zion’s Council of Elders. Dillard’s poise speaks to years of experience, and the respect she commands on all sides is a further testament to the central position she holds in deciding Zion’s future.
Played by Dr. Cornel West, author and Princeton University Professor of Religion and African-American StudiesThe funkiest, most soulful member of Zion’s Council of Elders.
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