The Matrix is one of the most influential action movies of all time, but by mixing stylish gun-fu fight scenes with cyberpunk themes, it built to a trilogy that may have left a few moviegoers a little confused. Now that we've got some distance from the climactic installment, let's take a look back at the movies' meaning and break down the conclusion. Here's the ending of the Matrix trilogy explained.
One major theme that came to the fore as the series reached its conclusion had to do with the similarities between humans and machines. In the original, they couldn't seem more different, but by Revolutions, programs in the Matrix are portrayed as being almost more human than our heroes, loving and happy individuals, as worthy of existence as any person. Further, characters from the first film who were firmly human or machine are portrayed in the sequels as having a little bit of both.
The similarities go in both directions. Agent Smith, a program, copied his consciousness onto a human form, entering the real world through the vessel of a resistance fighter named Bane. Neo, a human, reached the Source to discover that being the One was his destiny because it was programmed into him.
The humanizing of the Machines and the complimentary mechanization of Neo made for a storytelling turn that audiences weren't really ready for. People who saw The Matrix couldn't be faulted for expecting an ending that saw Neo winning by doing his Superman thing and eradicating humanity’s robot overlords. Instead, Neo triumphed by becoming a bridge between man and machine, sacrificing his own life for the sake of securing the future.
He also made Hugo Weaving’s head explode, but that wasn’t quite as important.
One widespread but inaccurate theory about the sequels is that the “real world” is actually a second Matrix. While the reasons why this isn't true are explained in the movies, they're also relatively easy to misunderstand.
The real world isn't another level of the Matrix, but it is involved in another system of control. As the Architect explains at the ending of The Matrix Reloaded, each version of the Matrix is propped up in the real world by a controlled rebellion. With each new iteration of the Matrix, a select portion of the population is freed, allowed to live in Zion. There, they help to liberate people still inside the Matrix, searching for the One.
Finding the One, the human rebels rally behind them, supporting them until they reach the Source. There, the One discovers that they are not meant to destroy the Matrix, but rather restart it. At this point in the cycle, the Machines attack Zion and destroy it, killing the rebellion.
The One, having reached the Source, is made to choose between either reloading the Matrix and selecting a handful of survivors to build a new Zion, or walking away, supposedly causing a system crash, leaving the humans inside and outside of the Matrix all dead.
Up until Neo, every One made the choice to restart, perpetuating the system of control. Because Neo loves Trinity, he chooses to sacrifice everything to be with her. This is the choice that makes him special. Keep watching the video as we explain the rest of The Matrix.
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The man and the machine | 0:23 Desert of the real | 1:40 I see you | 2:57 The virus | 3:54 Mecha | 5:11 The anti-virus | 6:09 The plan | 7:21 The meaning of Sati | 8:43 Version 7 | 10:02