After my first viewing of The Matrix, I was wondering why the Oracle lied and told Neo he wasn't The One. I eventually hypothesized that she needed to lie to him so that the proper sequence of events could be set into motion. It was only upon a later viewing that I realized that her actual words, "Your next life, maybe. Who knows." were completely correct, since Neo had to die first before becoming The One. —Onigame
The Oracle: Now here's the part where I go hmmm, aaahhh, interesting. And here's the part where you say...
The Oracle: But you already know what I'm going to say.
Neo: ... I'm not the One.
The Oracle: Sorry, kid. You got the gift. No doubt about it. But it looks like you're waiting for something.
Neo: For what?
The Oracle: Your next life, maybe. Who knows.
For Trinity to love him. To give him purpose. And Neo doesn't fully become the One until after he's died. So he was waiting for his next life. - Saintheart
It also explores the theme of belief. Morpheus believes Neo is the one. Neo doesn't believe he's the one. Trinity comes to believe Neo is the one. It doesn't matter what Morpheus or Trinity believed, it matters what Neo believed. Trinity confessing her love and the Oracle's prediction finally allowed Neo to believe as he came back to life. Remember the Jump program? "Free your mind" indeed.
The Oracle told Neo that he isn't The One, so that he would not set his own life over Morpheus', in a situation later in the movie, where Morpheus is in danger. She needs Morpheus to live on, and knows Neo will only save him if he knows he is not the One. "Fuck it, might as well risk my life for this guy, The Oracle said I wasn't The One anyway". — Merzer
Literally just realized that, in The Matrix, Agent Smith's story of how the first Matrix was a perfect reality but was rejected for the painful world exactly mirrors the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden and Adam/Eve's rejection of it. They, like the humans in the Matrix, were condemned to an imperfect world because they couldn't accept paradise. — Long Ranger 2
Eat the apple-colored pill and be cast from the Matrix. You aren't allowed knowledge of the Matrix until you're outside of it. Sounds familiar?
At the end of The Matrix Revolutions, Smith demands of Neo, "Why, Mr. Anderson?! WHY DO YOU PERSIST?" to which Neo calmly responds, "Because I choose to." Now, the entire 'conversation' up to that point had been about purpose, and it just seemed like the logical flow, from a dialogue and plot standpoint, would be for him to say "It's my purpose." And it is, that's what the One is there to do (his Karma, as a program explains earlier), it's his purpose in this vast system, to eliminate his negative (Smith) and balance the equation. However, upon closer inspection, the question of how choice affects purpose is brought up many times, especially in reference to this vast scheme of the Oracle's. So, while it is indeed his purpose to continue fighting Smith to the very end, he continues to do so not because he must but because he chooses to. (Indeed, 'to the end' only means to a finish. A purposeful end would have also included Neo being defeated. The choice is also partially that he choose to pursue victory.) It also helps to highlight the differences between Neo and Smith: Neo chooses to continue fighting until his inevitable corruption, Smith has no choice, he cannot deny his purpose at all. See Smith's earlier comments in Reloaded about why he went rogue: "I knew what I was supposed to do but I didn't. I couldn't. I was compelled to stay...", he never says he chose to stay. -Jarl
"A man chooses. A slave obeys." Neo, by choosing to continue to fight instead of giving up, proved that he was better than Smith, because he still had the ability to choose, despite Smith saying that he wasn't free to in the second movie. In essence, this is throwing the middle finger to Smith yet again.
It's also worth pointing out the reasons each combatant had for entering that final fight in the first place. Smith was simply obeying the vision he saw via the Eyes of the Oracle; Neo, however, CHOSE to go to the machines and fight Smith. Smith is utterly incapable of doing anything outside of 'the programming'; he sees the visions as the 'way it should happen'. Neo just wanted to beat up on Smith.
An additional shred of Fridge Brilliance that is somewhat controversial is that Smith can be guessed to possess the Eyes of the Oracle by the final fight, and thus can perceive the future as long as he understands the choices that are made (even the Oracle cannot see past her own choices if she doesn't understand them, however). By choosing to continue fighting after the outcome is inevitable, Neo is making a choice Smith does not understand and because he does not understand it, he cannot perceive that continuing will be the doom of them both.
In a bit of Fridge Brilliance of my own, I always thought that it was kind of stupid for the Oracle to just allow the Smith Virus' assimilation, and then try and pass it off as self-sacrifice when she knew Neo would win. When you said Gambit Roulette, I realized: The Oracle might not know everything. In the second movie, we see the Architect's lair with the hundreds upon hundreds of recordings of all the different Neos, each presumably watching a wall of recordings of other Neos. Either there's only one Neo and many, many things going on at once, or the Oracle's going to die anyway and has died hundreds of times before when the Matrix rebooted. Either way, the Oracle didn't have any idea what was going to happen, and really, all it could do was make a few educated guesses. The bit where the Oracle was taken over was symbolic (either intentionally or causally) of the sudden change between preordination and "because I choose to." The sequels don't suck quite so much any more. -JET 73 L
If I remember correctly, the Oracle said that "no one can see past a choice they don't understand, and I mean no one." Which probably included the Oracle herself. Which choice she couldn't see past is up for debate, but it's possible that that choice was Neo's last choice. She couldn't see past it, just how to get there. So it really was a Batman Gambit by the Oracle. She may not have known what Neo was going to do in the end, but she probably had a pretty good idea.
That's explicit in the film. The Architect calls her out on it at the end of the Revelations: "You've played a dangerous game." "Change always is."
The brilliance of the ending really dawned on me when I realised that at its heart, it's still all about choice and free will. The whole setup by the Architect is built on predictability, purpose and hardcore logic. But Neo chooses a path that defies this logic by making an irrational choice that the Architect can't understand (he admits this himself - this is why the Oracle was needed to make the Matrix function). This choice led to the Matrix trying to balance the equation by creating the opposite to Neo: Smith. Where Neo represents choice, Smith represents lack of choice (cue ramblings about purpose). Where Neo wants peace for everyone and everything, Smith wants everyone and everything to die. Now, the really interesting thing is that in the creation of an opposite to Neo - the literal personification of humanity's free will and emotions - we see that the machines, despite their seeming differences to humanity, are not actually the opposite to what Neo and the humans stand for - Smith is. And Smith wants both the humans and the machines destroyed. This is the moral message of the whole trilogy: that the humans and the machines are not so different after all. They both want to live, to exist (in Smith's logic a choice that defies the purpose of all things, which is to end). The Oracle, being a program who understands the human psyche, understood this profound similarity and thus orchestrated events to create peace between man and machine by showing them their common enemy: Smith. Smith represents lack of freedom, lack of free will, and ultimately lack of existence. The similarities between man and machine are further illustrated by the very "human" program Rama Kandra as well as the conversation with Councillor Hamann about the codependency between humans and machines. Returning to the core idea of free will versus fate, it is heavily implied that the Oracle's ability to predict events is based entirely on understanding the causality behind choices (she blankly states that no one can see beyond a choice they don't understand, not even her). When you put it all together, we see the ultimate philosophical message of the trilogy: choice/free will/freedom is what defines our existence, and this is ultimately what makes us - and the machines - human. It's simply beautiful.
Which makes the dialogue between the Oracle and Smith seem more sensible. The Oracle calls Smith a bastard, because it created him (the mother) without a father program, and Smith even calls her "Mother"
I figured out that Neo really was The One after watching Reloaded several times. He's the real One - the person who will save humanity from the Matrix - because he's hard-wired to make a different choice than all the others. Previously, none of the Ones had been in love, so they were willing to follow the Architect's plan. The Architect tried to tell Neo that by defying him to save Trinity, Neo doomed all of humanity. However, Neo had to make the choice to return to the Matrix in order to break the pattern, and therefore had to love Trinity. This is why the Oracle made sure Trinity knew she would love The One, because otherwise, there was a chance that Neo would never break the pattern.
Speaking of the Matrix, it's the only film in which bottomless magazines do not annoy me. Why? Because the world is a virtual simulation that the characters are hacking. They're simply using the infinite ammo cheat. - Sordid
OMG! Infinite Ammo is usually the most common and most frequently-used cheat in video games, which would mean that anyone in the matrix who had the slightest understanding of how it worked would know of that cheat and be using it! Which is why everyone's got infinite ammo!
Except for: "You're empty." "So are you." So it's more likely a case of magazine capacity of plot than a conscious decision to give the characters infinite ammo.
Because they could only have one cheat active at once. Okay, that's getting into Fan Wank territory.
I figured they ran out of bullets because of Neo's subconscious preference for a hand to hand fight at that point. By now he's really starting to hate Smith, maybe he wants to feel him die...and causes both their bullet supplies to dry up at the psychologically appropriate moment. If so this explains Smith's moment of discomfiture at Neo's riposte - his expression is one of momentary confusion.
Except there aren't bottomless magazines...not really. Sure, I can't remember seeing anyone reload once, but that doesn't mean there's an end to the supply. Remember what Morpheus said of the rules of the Matrix. "Some can be bent, others can be broken." You can't put infinity bullets in a magazine, because the computer can't process that, but you can put fifty or a thousand because it's a definite number. So, effectively bottomless magazines. It also explains why they can even move with that many guns and that much leather on - they've set the weight to something equivalent of fighting in your skivvies. And why they can jump across buildings - they can't turn on Noclip, but they can fiddle with their personal gravity settings in real time.
This troper, a professional software developer, notes: Even a planet-girdling computer made of human brains is finite in capacity, and modeling a whole universe in as much detail as necessary means you optimize wherever you can, as for example by not simulating detailed physics for a firearm's magazine, when the weapon is in use and all that actually matters is the number of rounds in the box. Such abstractions offer much broader attack surface than a detailed rendering would; if, when you fire a round, all that happens to your remaining ammo is that the number gets decremented by one, then all you need do to have effectively infinite ammo is hook the weapon code so that either the decrement doesn't happen, or it's immediately followed by an increment which leaves the ammo count where it was before you fired. Similarly, if you don't want to be affected by gravity, just fiddle with the value of your body's velocity vector.
One of the things I loved most about the entire Matrix trilogy was the incredible special effects. Which is why I was so disappointed with the "Burly Brawl" scene in Reloaded. There was a very clear demarcation when the scene switched from being live action to become all CGI (right when Neo picks up the metal post and starts hitting the multitude of Smith clones with it). The faces suddenly become less lifelike, the clothing doesn't look quite real, etc. I later realized, though, that it made perfect sense in context. Everything was CGI, since the entire scene takes place within the Matrix. -Godzillatemple
It goes even deeper than that. Notice how in all the Bullet Time sequences in the film, the background becomes VERY simplified? No more loose debris, the slides on the guns don't go like they should, and all the little details get washed out. Ever played a large multiplayer game on a video game? The processing power needs to be taken up by the "main event" of running and shooting, so the computer will stop rendering little details like headlights on vehicles or individual blades of grass. That's why things look "less realistic" during the Burly Brawl and any other Bullet Time sequence. The processors of the Matrix stopped rendering fine detail in order to save processor power for all the other, more important aspects.
You can take this further. Who observes the Burly Brawl scene? Smith, who is a program and not dependent on detailed visual perception, and Neo, who is hacking into the matrix from an external feed. None of the observers are relevant to the Matrix; thus, the Level of Detail is reduced automatically.
It took me years to understand the scene in The Matrix where Neo has a breakthrough and decides to go rescue Morpheus. The obvious reason is that he sees The Oracle's prophecies come true and thinks that since he is not The One as Tank and Trinity believe, then Morpheus is more important than him and must be rescued at whatever cost. But if you look closely to her words, The Oracle said that "One of you is going to die...", which means that since her words are true, there are two possibilities for Neo: he can either go and save Morpheus at the cost of his life, or he will fail and Morpheus will die, but that means Neo will survive the attempt. Whatever the case, it either won't be suicide as Trinity says, or his sacrifice will not be meaningless. That is also why he doesn't want Trinity to go, because she is the wild card and can end up dead in either case.
Which comes right back around to one of the series' main themes. The Oracle wasn't telling him to go or not to go. She was opening the doors and letting him decide which to walk through. Choice. The problem is choice.
You know, Smith's Hannibal Lecture about how humans are so destructive compared to other animals is aggravating because real animals don't act that way. But considering that Smith has never actually studied animals in the wild, nor has likely had any interaction with them beyond the programs found in the Matrix, he may be speaking from genuine ignorance. You know that paradise world that was the first Matrix? Probably not nearly as awesome as the programs think it was.
'Neo' is an anagram of 'One' - How this didn't occur to me before now is anyone's guess.
Neo means 'new' and Anderson, Neo's name in the Matrix, is derived from the greek Ander, meaning 'man'. So he's basically "the new son of man".
Also:His first name, Thomas, is a reference to the Biblical "Doubting Thomas."
Also Also: Thomas is often translated as meaning "Twin". "Thomas Anderson" is the "Twin of the Son of Man."
This just struck me reading the Wham Line for the Matrix. Neo asks for his phone call, and Smith says "What good is a phone call if you're unable to speak?" Now you tell me, what are phones used for in the Matrix? It's got to be a deliberate parallel to how they use phones to exit the Matrix!
Presumably a telephone, in the Matrix, represents some sort of communication channel
When Morpheus and Neo are seemingly walking down the street together in what appears to be the Matrix, Neo is being jostled by everyone who passes, while Morpheus is not. Makes sense when you learn a minute later that they are in a training program; Morpheus has been in this simulation before, and knows exactly where to step.
It also shows how uneasy Neo is now that he sees through The Masquerade. He was perfectly at ease when he just felt something was wrong, but now that he knows, he doesn't feel like part of the system anymore.
Early on in the first movie, when Thomas Anderson (Neo) is being chewed out by his boss, the boss says: "You think you're special, that the rules don't apply to you." Watching the first time, you think it's just standard angry boss lines and only later is the dramatic irony revealed that he really is special and the rules don't apply to him.
Everything anyone in the Matrix says other than an Agent or someone who has been unplugged is foreshadowing. Remember the guy who bought the software from Neo. "You're my savior, man. My own personal Jesus Christ." "This never happened. You don't exist." "You need to unplug, man."
Even some things that Agents say are foreshadowing too. When Smith is talking to Neo about his double life, he tells him, "One of these lives has a future...and the other does not." He was right about that; he was just wrong about which life had the future.
The Oracle is pretty much the embodiment of this trope. Everything from the first movie onwards keeps coming back to her.
Switch calls Neo "copper-top" early on, before being ejected out of the Matrix. Copper-top used to be the Catch Phrase for Duracell batteries, which Morpheus shows when he explains the Matrix.
If it's your first time seeing the movie, or you just don't get the Duracell reference, you could be forgiven for assuming that Switch was just hurling random insults at the naive civvie for being a pain in the ass. Actually, it goes deeper than that: it's Switch's way of saying that she thinks rumors about the One are just B.S., and that the errand to recruit Neo into the Resistance is a waste of time. To her, he's just another one of the Machines' batteries, and that's all he'll ever be.
It's sort of a shame they didn't dye Keanu Reeves' hair red for the role.
In the first movie, Smith curb-stomps Morpheus. In the second movie, despite being unable to last two minutes against Smith, Morpheus takes on one of the upgraded Agents and does much better. So does Trinity, for that matter. This makes no sense...until you remember that Smith was already losing his shit in the first movie. While he was doing a better job of hiding it then, his anger at his situation was already driving him, giving him an edge over both the old and new Agents, who have no motivation of their own.
On top of that, Smith uses a more varied fighting style than the newer Agents. Why? Because the "upgrades" may be stronger and a bit faster or more used to the resistance's reality-bending fighting styles, but they sure as hell aren't more creative. After Smith went rogue, the Machines probably downgraded the Agents' initiative.
Indeed, but remember Neo even addresses the agents as upgrades after they make that specific block.
Except Smith wasn't plugged into the Matrix at that point (or however the Agents are connected), and was a rogue. Unless— Smith ate an agent that had been upgraded and stole the upgrades for himself.
I think it's fairly well established that the One is a blatant Expy of Jesus Christ, but this is not because the Wachowski Brothers ripped off the Bible, but the Machines did. Think about it - religion is one of if not the most long-lasting complex memes; of course they'd use it as the basis for their control scheme.
Actually, the most long lasting complex meme the machines ripped off is the Hero's Journey. The One is not just Jesus, he's Gilgamesh, Apollo, Ramayana, Buddha, Luke, Frodo, etc. etc.
My head just exploded.
I just realized that the second movie is actually a Randian individualistic statement; when the Architect pushes Neo to do as all the others have done and go through the door to the right (or left, I forget) he is persuading him to join the mold of all the others and continue as it has always been. But Neo instead chooses to save Trinity and do the unusual thing that no one (ha- one) else has done. It's like Ayn Rand that he chooses to break the mold and be an Individualist. Cool.
But he's motivated by altruism, like a real hero...
Objectivism does not deny altruism, but for its own sake. Not because others want you to be altruistic. It is about doing what you view is best for yourself.
He's motivated by love, not necessarily altruism. Every time Ayn Rand uses the word "love" in reference to people, she sure makes it sound like a pejorative.
You remember thinking how people as energy source does go against everything you learned about Physics? Well, where do you get your Physics from? Rule one of Science: How do you know what you know? Because you learned it in school, in the Matrix. Everyone thinks it is so, in the Matrix. Also you can test it, in the Matrix. Well people, Computer Simulations run on mathematics, I can't say the same about the universe.
Even if perpetual motion machines are possible in the really Real World outside the Matrix, there are still better options than using humans. Cows (and an endless simulated sea of grass) are often mentioned. Face it, the original idea (pre-Executive Meddling) was just better, though slightly harder for Joe Bluepill to understand.
Assuming that our world is the "real world" in the movie, I can say this: The universe shows a incredibly great predisposition for Mathematics. If our world is the Matrix, then *shrug*
There is a simpler explanation. Others have said that humans provided the processing power for the Matrix with their brains. But what is the energy source for the brains upon which the Matrix relies for processing power? Humans.
Humans aren't an "energy source" unless you pile them up and burn them, and they're not a very good one then. You eat food, don't you? Food, of which a relatively small fraction ends up as a relatively permanent part of your body's structure; the rest you use to power your life functions and eventually radiate as waste heat, which is why your body runs at a temperature so much higher than ambient.
Expanding on that: The "power source" explanation, for why humans are installed in the Matrix, has never made sense, and I think is best understood as an artifact of the general ignorance likely endemic in the machines' new dark age; the only way to take any energy at all off a running human body, for use in powering other processes, is as heat, and that's both vastly inefficient — you'd get more heat by just burning the food directly than by dumping it into a human body — and inconsistent with the atrophied state of newly disconnected humans — a human body generates maximum waste heat during strenuous exercise, which would lead to muscle development. The "brains as processors" hypothesis, conversely, is consistent with all observed facts regarding the state of Matrix-installed humans, leaving only the question of why the machines bother keeping any humans alive in the first place, but presumably that's either addressed later in the series or ignored as part of the later films' general disintegration into trivial allegory.
The whole "humans as batteries" thing left me perplexed at first, and I was quick to dismiss it as a goof or the result of Executive Meddling. Then I realized that the fact that it does not follow the laws of thermodynamics may have been intentional! The laws of thermodynamics we know are valid within the Matrix; in the real world, they may be entirely different! This would also explain how the entire Neb crew does not freeze to death, nor does the vapor they breathe out condense into fog, when they are forced to abandon the ship before it blows up and they walk around an environment that has not received any heat for centuries: because thermodynamics works differently in the real world than it does in the Matrix.
The Earth receives heat from the Sun, even during "nuclear winter" conditions; even a largely opaque atmosphere can only reflect so much. Between that, waste heat from the gigantic machines girdling the planet, any functioning leftovers of human infrastructure, and the planet's quite ample geothermal heat, it's plausible that deeply buried tunnels would be warm enough for breath not to condense. (Also, where was it suggested that the movie's audience was made up of Matrix inhabitants?)
The fact the Neo has special abilities outside the Matrix bugged me for a long time, until my Brother-in-law told me his theory that the world outside the Matrix is a second virtual reality; blowing my mind. A second virtual reality solves all the problems that the machines have with the few people that reject the Matrix. This second virtual world could be a mirror of reality in the XX(X?)th century, just as the Matrix is based on the real world of the late 20th/early 21st century.
This is the Matrix within a Matrix theory, and it's a longstanding one. There's arguments there are Matrices 'all the way up'.
In the first film, I wondered why the Sentinels didn't kill off the remaining crew of the Neb right away, instead dilly-dallying around as they did long enough for the humans to set off the EMP. I watched the entire trilogy the other day and it just now hit me: The Machines had set up Neo to be The Chosen One and repopulate the Matrix, so they were unable to kill off everyone on the Nebuchadnezzar; they were maybe even becoming confused and unable to act due to a lack of instructions/instructions against action when they got inside the ship.
Why exactly do the Agents, despite having upgrades, suddenly start getting the shit kicked out of them in the sequels? Morpheus got his ass handed to him by Smith in the first but in the second he conducts a fight on a moving semi against an upgraded agent and pretty much wins. Then it hit me that while the redpills like to think they are freed, when they enter the Matrix they are still bound by some of its rules, because only Neo can seem to have his mind completely 'freed'. Until Neo they believe that the agents are unbeatable and thus they are, Neo beats an Agent and suddenly everyone realizes that maybe they can be defeated. Your Mind Makes It Real indeed. When they believed that they could win, because a Messianic figure proved it was possible, suddenly they could. Woah.
All the scenes filmed inside the Matrix have a green-ish hue. Just like the green Matrix Raining Code.
This tint also makes the rain during the scene under the bridge look like falling code.
When still inside the Matrix, Neo is contacted through his computer by Morpheus who tells him to "Follow the White Rabbit." When Choi and Dujour (and friends) visit Neo soon after that, we find out that the "White Rabbit" is represented by a tattoo on Dujour's shoulder. When Neo tells Choi that he's late, Choi says "I know. It's her fault," blaming it on Dujour ... the White Rabbit ... As in "I'm late! I'm late for a very important date!"
It's a measure of how good the Wachowskis are at establishing a visual metaphor - especially for a viewer who comes to the movies with a little Genre Savvy - that when Agent Smith casually removes his earpiece to talk to the suspect off-the-record, This Troper sat bolt upright and whispered, "wait, can he do that?" A seemingly mundane action has vast implications for what this particular program is capable of.
The exact time period inside the Matrix (i.e. Is it always 1999?) has been a subject of debate among fans for a while, with many people raising the question of why the Machines specifically chose the year 1999 for their simulation. Agent Smith seems to think that it's because the end of the 20th century was "the peak of human civilization" (which is debatable), but it was also the last period before the internet took off and became a major presence in human life. The internet would make it much harder to safeguard the truth about the Matrix, since people all around the world could openly discuss the world's apparent artificiality.
The old question of "Where do babies in the Matrix come from?" is utterly trivial. Humans are known to interact directly through the medium of the Matrix. Humans are also known to have physical bodies outside the Matrix. When two humans conceive, their gametes are combined in vitro and the resulting zygote implanted in the female of the pair, by means of techniques developed by trivial extension of those known to modern medical science as in-vitro fertilization. From there, gestation and parturition proceed as they ordinarily would, and the pregnant woman's sensorium is extended to include whatever information is necessary for verisimilitude; a woman pregnant in the Matrix is also pregnant outside the Matrix, and her mediated sensorium feels pregnant either because the sensations of her physical body are being piped to her mind, or the Matrix is synthesizing a suitable equivalent accurate to her physical situation. Once birthed, the newborn is removed from its mother's pod and installed in a vacant one, and the relationship proceeds again as it would outside the Matrix, subject to the Matrix's usual mediation of all parties' sensoria. (For example, if the newborn is surplus to the machines' requirements, perhaps it's euthanized and reprocessed as feedstock, while the parents observe their infant dying by accident or illness.)
Oh, well, I mean, sure, you could take at face value all that nonsense about robot baby farms, if you're untroubled by the trivially obvious implication that the machines are blatantly stupid — there is no other adequate adjective to describe the choice of such an incredibly wasteful and failure-prone technique as that depicted over Morpheus' narration, when there's a much cheaper and more reliable alternative available, one which has stood the test of millions upon millions of years worth of time, and which also offers the not inconsiderable benefit of greatly enhanced verisimilitude. The only evidence of robot baby farms is Morpheus, early in the first movie, saying that they exist; I don't assume he was wrong, or lying, but it's quite possible that the robot baby farms, like the "Garden of Eden" initial design for the Matrix's user interface, were merely one of possibly very many failed experiments which informed the Matrix's evolution.
The two cities are never directly mentioned together in the same sentence at any point in the series, but at some point you realize that the Humans and the Machines both live in single cities called "Zion" and "Zero One". When written out, the two names actually look surprisingly similar: both begin with a "Z" sound and end with an "N" sound, and the middle two letters of the word "Zion" ("I" and "O") actually look like "1" and "0". This subtly hints at the recurring idea that Humans and Machines are really Not So Different.
Smith's complaint in the first movie is that humans act like a virus. When Neo "kills" him, he returns and acts exactly like a virus.
Cypher asks to be returned to the Matrix as "someone important, maybe an actor" and doesn't want to remember anything. Smith assures "Mr. Reagan" that this will happen. This seems like just a throwaway joke until you remember that, by 1999 (the year being observed in the Matrix), Ronald Reagan was in the throes of Alzheimer's disease.
HOLY SHIT! There's more to it than that! Smith called him Reagan BEFORE Cypher told him he wanted to be famous and important; therefore, upon striking the deal, the Machines must have altered the records of their "1999"'s past, giving EVERYONE (except for Redpills and Exiles, who wouldn't care anyway) false memories of Cypher having been a Hollywood actor and a president - and all he really received for his betrayal was the "remember nothing" part.
How about the "The Freeway is suicide" gag in Reloaded? They sure play it like one, with multiple characters talking about how suicidal it is, but when you think about it, when your enemy can take over anyone, a crowded freeway is definitely the last place you'd want to be...
I think one of the Wachowskis put it this way: that by going on the freeway, you were putting yourself in the middle of hundreds of potential agents, each one at the controls of a guided missile. And on top of that, as well as Morpheus and Trinity did, it would still have ended up with Morpheus and their target dead if it hadn't been for Neo.
When Neo comes into his power, he is referred to as "The One" - he is unique and alone in his power. When his opposite, Agent Smith comes into his power, he becomes everyone - the opposite of alone and unique.
A common Fridge Logic complaint is that the Agents' very existence doesn't make sense if the entire rebellion is orchestrated by the Machines. Why should the Agents exist at all when they're just interfering in the process? What if they accidentally kill the One before he can serve his role? It's not until you watch the Architect's scene a few times and parse out everything he's saying that this starts making sense; the more direct control the Machines exert, the more problems arise. The Agents aren't in the loop about what's going on, they have to be real and not just faking it for show.
This troper's interpretation of that has always been the theory that the second and third movie were not genuine sequels of the first; but were primarily based on The Animatrix, which was created after the first film. In other words, you've got an Expanded Universe which is conceptually based on the first film, but isn't actually a direct continuation of the first film's events. This also makes sense, when you consider that the threat of the first film (the Agents getting the access codes to Zion's mainframe) is pretty much redundant when it is revealed in the second that the Machines are planning a frontal assault on Zion anyway, and that they've already destroyed it five times before, presumably without being able to get the codes on any of those occasions either.
You can also argue that it is another level of the illusion. The people who escape think like conspiracy theorists. When you believe conspiracy theories to the extreme, everyone becomes the enemy. The Agents are simply there because we would expect them to exist and if they weren't there it might break the illusion the machines have over us. If you think about it had enough, the machines allow people to escape the Matrix because those that escape wouldn't LIKE being there. They use the real world, which is a set up by the machines as well, as a another layer of that illusion. So basically, not only is the Matrix internally a crapsack world, but the Agents provide more crapsack elements for the escapees simply because that is what the human mind expects to find.
I always figured the agents were in on the joke, and that part of Smith's madness was caused by knowing he could never fulfill his purpose - killing the One.
The problem there is that in this scenario, killing the One isn't Smith's purpose. His purpose would be to act as if he was out to kill the one, not to actually do it.
Here's some Fridge Horror: I was thinking about what happens to people taken over by Agents that don't get killed by the protagonists. Which, after all, was unheard of before the events of the trilogy. Since Agents revert upon death to the people they took over, they really are hijacking their simulated bodies rather than just replacing them, and they would presumably leave when they're done. So imagine you get bodysnatched by an Agent who either loses their prey or succeeds in killing them; you come to in a strange place, possibly in the company of a dead body (and forensic evidence might support the conclusion that you killed them, but then again it might not), and you have no idea how you got there or what you've been doing in the missing time. You might have nonfatal injuries as well if the rebel managed to hurt the Agent before escaping/dying. For the ones who don't wake up at the scene of a crime, this could explain alien abductions.
Could explain how people have blackouts sometimes and why certain people go missing without a trace; since the Agents are so hard to kill, it stands to reason that they would inhabit the same body long enough for the original person to become a cold case. - Ze Mogan
Unless the unfortunate bluepills are aware of what's happening and stuck in And I Must Scream while the Agent chases the redpills down, anyway, which is even worse.
YMMV. Being unable to control your body for a certain time, but at the same time performing superhuman feats and eventually learning mindboggling secrets would still be pretty awesome.
Which is exactly why a person "possessed" by an Agent would be permitted neither to perceive nor to remember it. There are lots of mundane ways in which such "missing time", &c., could be explained; allowing Matrix inhabitants to become aware of Agent possession would all but guarantee at least a few of them would become aware of the simulation, with potentially disastrous results.
Presumably the Agents have some sort of neutral body they can return to, allowing them to return the shanghaied body and ensure the system continues running as designed.
Why assume they need inhabit any body, except when they need a Matrix avatar? Smith, in the first movie, spoke of wanting to leave the Matrix, which would be impossible if he couldn't exist outside a Matrix avatar.
Imagine if two people were having sex, when suddenly the female morphs into an Agent.
And it's not all that likely, either. Agents possess Matrix inhabitants' avatars when they need a body for tactical reasons; having to disentangle a body in the midst of coitus imposes a certain degree of encumbrance, and probably wouldn't be worth it unless there's really no one else around.
There are no cats, maybe even no animals in the matrix. Like the scene A Glitch in the Matrix shows, the cat is just part of the background program. When that program was reset, so was the cat.