Agent Smith

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Agent Smith
The Matrix character
Warner Brothers VIP studio tour - Matrix mannequins (2862323128).jpg
Smith and other agents mannequins
First appearance The Matrix
Created by The Wachowskis
Portrayed by Hugo Weaving
Ian Bliss
Voiced by Christopher Corey Smith (The Matrix: Path of Neo)
Information
Species Computer program
Occupation Agent, later virus

Agent Smith is a fictional character in the The Matrix franchise. He is portrayed by Hugo Weaving (and briefly Ian Bliss) in the films and voiced by Christopher Corey Smith in The Matrix: Path of Neo.

In 2008, Agent Smith was selected by Empire Magazine as the 84th Greatest Movie Character of All Time.[1] In 2013, Weaving reprised the role for a General Electric advertisement.[2]

Overview[edit]

Smith began as an Agent, an AI program in the Matrix programmed to keep order within the system by terminating human simulacra which would bring instability to the simulated reality, as well as any rogue programs that no longer serve a purpose to the Machine collective. To this end, Smith possesses the ability to take control over the simulated body of any human wired into the Matrix. As an Agent, Smith is able to bend the rules of the Matrix (such as gravity and the limitations of the human body), giving him speed and strength beyond ordinary human capacity. He and other Agents can dodge bullets flawlessly, punch through concrete with their bare hands, and jump impossible distances. Agents also have the ability to communicate with each other instantaneously and perceive what other humans wired into the Matrix do via a type of shared consciousness, represented visually via their earpieces (when Agent Smith removes his earpiece during the first film, he is left unaware of the attack on his building). Smith is armed in the first film with the Desert Eagle, chambered for high-caliber .50 AE ammunition, as is standard with all Agents within the Matrix.

At the end of the first film, Smith appeared to have been deleted by Neo; however, in the sequels, Smith is revealed to have been "freed" from the Machines' control, preventing him from being forcibly sent to the system source where he and other programs would be deleted. This process makes him into a renegade program, effectively making him a self-replicating computer virus. Along with his freedom, Smith gains the ability to copy himself onto others within the Matrix, rather than simply having the ability to switch between bodies as normal agents are able to. By copying himself into a human in the process of disconnecting from the Matrix by making use of the in-Matrix landlines, Smith is able to insert himself into the outside world. This is seen when Smith takes over Bane's body in The Matrix Reloaded. Smith's real power comes from his ability to absorb memories and power from his victims, culminating in his form that fights Neo in the final battle of the Matrix series. Smith goes so far as to copy himself into the Oracle and he even tries to control Morpheus, and Neo himself.

Design[edit]

All Agents (other than Agents Perry and Pace from The Matrix Online game) are Caucasian males, as opposed to the population of Zion, which contains people of many ethnic groups. Agents wear square sunglasses and near-identical dark green business suits, except for Smith who later wears a black suit and angled sunglasses. The Agents show blandness and an apathy for the human race with communication earpieces, exception of Smith and his acute disgust with humanity. In the first film, he expresses a desire to leave the Matrix to escape its repulsive taint, and reasons that with Zion destroyed his services will no longer be required, allowing him in some sense to 'leave' the construct. This at least partially explains his extreme antagonism towards Neo, who fights relentlessly to save Zion.

Other Agents have common Anglo-Saxon names like Brown, Jones, and Thompson. It was mentioned in the Philosopher Commentary on the DVD collection that the names of Smith, Brown, and Jones may be endemic to the system itself, demonstrating a very "robotic" mindset on the part of the Machines.

Neo's solitary role as the One is contrasted by Smith, who, by replicating himself, becomes "the many." When Neo asks the Oracle about Smith, the Oracle explains that Smith is Neo's opposite and his negative.

Unlike the other characters in The Matrix, Smith almost always refers to Neo as "Mr. Anderson." He calls him "Neo" only once in each part of the trilogy: the first time when he is interviewing Neo about his double life, the second when he is dropping off an Agent earplug in a package for Neo, and the third when he is repeating a line of his vision to Neo.

Personality[edit]

Agent Smith is significantly more individualistic than the other Agents from the start. While other agents rarely act without consulting each other via their earpieces, to the point where they often finish each other's sentences, Smith is usually the one giving orders or using his earpiece to gather information for his own ends. Smith also appears to be the leader of other Agents in the first film, as he has the authority to launch Sentinel attacks in the real world. As with other Agents, Smith generally approaches problems through a pragmatic point of view, but if necessary will also act with brute force and apparent rage, especially when provoked by Neo.

The earpieces represent some form of control mechanism by the machines. It is notable that when he is interrogating Morpheus, he sends the other agents from the room, then removes his earpiece, releasing himself from the link to the machines before expressing his opinion of humanity. Early in the second film, Smith's earpiece is sent to Neo in an envelope as a message from Smith, representing Smith's newfound freedom.

Agent Smith complains to Morpheus that the Matrix and its inhabitants smell disgusting, "if there is such a thing [as smell]". Smith has an open hatred of humans and their weakness of the flesh. He compares humanity to a virus, a disease organism that would replicate uncontrollably and eventually destroy their environment were it not for the machine intelligences keeping them in check. Ironically, Smith eventually becomes a computer virus, multiplying until he has overrun the entire Matrix.

At the same time, Smith develops an animosity towards the Matrix itself, feeling that he is as much a prisoner of it as the humans he is tasked with controlling. He later develops an immense and increasingly open desire for the destruction of both mankind and machines.

He was also shown to be a nihilist, which eventually culminates in his statement that the purpose of life is to end, and crediting Neo's life for his determining this.[3] During his final showdown with Neo, Smith angrily dismisses causes such as freedom, truth, peace, and love as simply human attempts to justify a meaningless and purposeless existence, and is completely unable to comprehend why Neo continues to fight him despite the knowledge that he cannot win.[4]

The Wachowskis have commented that Smith's gradual humanization throughout The Matrix is a process intended to mirror and balance Neo's own increasing power and understanding of the machine world.[citation needed]

Character history[edit]

The Matrix[edit]

In the first film, Smith is one of the three Agents sent to deal with Morpheus. After Neo is successfully removed from the Matrix, Smith arranges Morpheus' capture by bribing Cypher, a disillusioned member of Morpheus' crew, with reintegration into The Matrix. When Neo manages to free Morpheus, Smith and his fellow Agents engage in a lengthy cross-town chase. He and Neo fight, with Smith dominating most of the fight. Shortly after Neo escapes the fight, Smith guns him down. Neo revives, realizes his power as the One, and enters Smith, to destroy him from within.

The Matrix Reloaded[edit]

As a result of his contact with Neo from the first film, Smith is "unplugged" in the second film, no longer an Agent of the system but a "free man". This is signified by the lack of an earpiece, which he sends to Neo in an envelope as a message early in the film. His appearance has changed in the second film as well; his sunglasses now have an angular shape different from the Agents' oblong lenses, approximating the shape of the ones Neo wears. His suit color, as opposed to the greenish tint from the first film, is now jet black. He still possesses the abilities of an Agent, but instead of being able to jump from one human to another, he is able to copy himself over any human or program in the Matrix through direct contact; this includes humans wired into the Matrix, non-Agent programs with human forms, redpills, and other Agents. Smith retains the memories and abilities, if any, of the one over which he copies himself. This ability is much like how a virus replicates, creating an ironic contrast with the first film, where Smith likens humanity to a virus.

He makes the claim that Neo has set him free. However, he believes there is an unseen purpose that still binds him to Neo. He tries to copy his programming onto Neo, but when this fails, he and dozens of his clones attack him, forcing Neo to flee. Later, he and his clones try to stop Neo from reaching the machine mainframe, without success.

Smith copied himself onto Bane (Ian Bliss), a crew member of the Zion hovercraft Caduceus. While waiting to leave the Matrix with a message from The Oracle, Bane was attacked by Agent Smith, who overwrote Bane's mind.

The Matrix Revolutions[edit]

Movie poster for The Matrix Revolutions, featuring some of the numerous copies of Smith

By the start of the third film, Smith has managed to copy himself over nearly every humanoid in the Matrix, giving him complete control over the "Core Network" (the underlying foundation of the inner workings of the Matrix), thus rendering him immutable by even the Machines themselves. The Oracle explains to Neo that he and Smith have become equal in power and that Smith is Neo's negative, a result of The Matrix equation trying to balance itself. Also, she reveals that if he is not stopped, Smith will destroy everything. Unfortunately, the Oracle herself is eventually taken over by Smith, granting him her power of foresight, or omniscience, as well as reality-bending powers equivalent to those possessed by Neo, such as the ability to fly. Meanwhile in the Real World, Smith, who had copied himself into Bane, tries to kill Trinity and Neo; he burns Neo's eyes making him blind, but is then killed by Neo.

Near the climax of the film, Neo offers a deal with the Machines to get rid of Smith in exchange for Zion's safety, warning them that Smith is beyond their control and will eventually spread to the machine city, which will result in destruction of both mankind and machines. Knowing that Neo is right, the Machines agree to his terms and command all Sentinels attacking Zion to stand down and wait for orders. They later give Neo a connection to enter the Matrix to stop Smith on their behalf. Although the Matrix is now populated exclusively by Smith and his clones, the Smith that has obtained the Oracle's powers battles Neo alone; as he explains, he has foreseen his victory, and has no need for the help of his copies. The two are almost evenly matched as the fight begins, though Neo's combat abilities seem arguably superior to that of Smith, the latter attacking more out of brute force, rather than the technical skill he displayed in the first film. As the fight continues, however, it becomes clear that Neo cannot win with his finite stamina against the tireless Smith, who begins to dominate Neo in the fight; by the end of the fight, he is able to brutally beat Neo into near defeat. In the midst of this battle, Smith explains to Neo his final nihilistic revelation: "It was your life that taught me the purpose of all life. The purpose of life is to end."

When Neo is near defeat, Smith demands to know why Neo continues to fight, knowing he cannot win. Neo responds, "Because I choose to" and is beaten unconscious by the enraged Smith as a result. Suddenly recognizing the scene from his prophecy, Smith is compelled to deliver the line he said in it: "I say... Everything that has a beginning has an end, Neo".

Confused by his own behavior, Smith suddenly becomes frightened by the effect his words have on Neo. Unable to overpower Smith, Neo understands that he cannot beat Smith physically, and knows what he must do to win. Thus Neo opens himself to assimilation, apparently submitting to defeat. What follows is open to interpretation. Smith copies himself onto Neo and believes himself to be the victor, but does not know that Neo is plugged directly into the source. As a result, Smith "returns to the source," and is thereby able to be deleted by the machines, as evidenced by all of the Smith clones exploding.

Another such interpretation is that the 'equation' is completed. This is mentioned by the Oracle, as stated earlier, that Smith is the opposite of Neo, who was himself an aberration of the ultimate formula of the Matrix. Once Neo and Smith cancel one another out, the Matrix is allowed to be 'restarted', complete and without error.

A third is that the machines overload the newly assimilated Smith with power, causing him to effectively short circuit, and creating a chain reaction that completely destroys Smith. What is clear is that outside of the Matrix, the Machines have honored their promise to Neo, as the Sentinels peacefully retreat from Zion and reboot the Matrix. The ending however does not indicate whether or not a long term peace has been reached, and includes many unanswered questions.

The Matrix Online[edit]

Despite his destruction at the end of the film series, Agent Smith (or at least the remnants of his programming) managed to return and made several appearances inside the movie's official continuation, the MMORPG The Matrix Online.

The first infection was noted in Machine mission controller Agent Gray, whose background information confirms that he was overwritten by Smith at some point during the timeline of the second and third films. This infection had somehow survived the reboot at the end of the third film and rose to the surface once again during chapter 1.2, The Hunt For Morpheus. The Agent, in both a storyline related mission and live event, showed signs of uncharacteristic speech and emotion and eventually led an assault against Zionist redpills declaring 'their stench unbearable any longer'. As a result of his actions the agent was apprehended by his fellow system representatives and scheduled for a 'thorough code cleansing'. He has shown no signs of direct infection since.

Machine liaison officer DifferenceEngine, following a similar scenario to that of the previous Agent Gray infection, also took on the dialect and emotional characteristics of the famous exile agent. Instead of attacking redpills, this instance insisted on finding 'Mr. Anderson'. In the end, the human/machine head relations liaison, Agent Pace, was made aware of the program's infection and subsequent crusade; she proceeded to lock down his RSI and return his program to the Source for analysis. His subsequent fate is unknown.

The third victim of infection was the notorious bluepill Shane Black. This man was an unfortunate victim of the Smith Virus who, once infected, gained the ability to spread the code to others. This quickly led to a small scale outbreak, with several more bluepills becoming infected and joining forces in their hunt for power. He and the other infected were eventually cleansed and returned to their bluepill lives. Shane Black's troubles continued, as he was one of the bluepills recorded to have first witnessed Unlimited redpills practising their newfound powers at the Uriah wharf. This triggered a resurgence of the memories formed during his Smith infection and he soon became volatile and insane. He is reported to have been mercifully killed shortly afterwards.

The most recent appearance of the Smith virus was during the third anniversary events. The virus manifested itself in the form of black-suited men (although they lacked the distinct likeness of Smith). As redpills began to fight back using specialist code from the Oracle, the virus vanished suddenly, stating that he had obtained a new and more dangerous form. The nature of this form was never revealed.

The Matrix: Path of Neo[edit]

The Matrix: Path of Neo, a video game covering the events of the entire film trilogy, features a different ending than that shown in The Matrix Revolutions, with a new final boss: the MegaSmith. The MegaSmith was used for gameplay reasons, because though the Wachowskis thought the martyr approach suitable for film, they also believed that in an interactive medium such as a video game (based upon the successful completion of goals), this would not work. So, described by the siblings as "A little Hulk versus Galactus action", this character was created to be the more appropriate "final boss" of Path of Neo. The MegaSmith is composed of destroyed buildings, cars, and parts of the road, with the "spectator Smiths" standing around the crater and in the streets acting as the MegaSmith's muscles, resulting in Smith not only becoming the city's people, but the city itself.

After Neo knocks Smith into the crater in the level "Aerial Battle", Smith is sent flying through the ground and up through the street. As Neo relaxes, the surrounding Smiths walk away from the crater. Neo gets out of the crater, and dodges a car which flies through the air and lands in a pile of debris. Neo looks on as Smiths tear up chunks of the road and throw cars into this pile. A truck then speeds into a building and blows it up. Smiths can be seen holding the debris together as it takes on a thirty-story tall humanoid form which is then struck by lightning, powering it up. Neo flies up to watch as the giant humanoid lowers its head onto its shoulders. The giant Smith then pulls a pair of giant Smith Shades from a billboard and puts them on. As an interesting aside, the glasses on the billboard are the same ones Agent Smith wore in the first Matrix film, with the curved nose bar, but when the MegaSmith actually puts them on, they become the ones Agent Smith wears in The Matrix Reloaded and in Revolutions.

After the fight—consisting of Neo dodging blows and building up power to launch more powerful assaults at MegaSmith, damaging one arm and creating a large hole in his chest—Neo flies straight into MegaSmith's mouth, causing the Smiths throughout the Matrix to overload and explode. The player is then shown a short scene from The Matrix: Revolutions of the streets shining with light emanating from the destroyed Smiths.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters| 84. Agent Smith | Empire". www.empireonline.com. 2006-12-05. Retrieved 2012-07-24. 
  2. ^ Connelly, Brendon (April 13, 2013). "Agent Smith Returns – A General Electric Commercial Set In The World Of The Matrix". bleedingcool.com. Retrieved April 13, 2013. 
  3. ^ The Matrix Revolutions
    Agent Smith: I must thank you [Neo]. After all, it was your life that taught me the purpose of all life. The purpose of life is to end.
  4. ^ The Matrix Revolutions
    Agent Smith: Why, Mr. Anderson? Why, why? Why do you do it? Why? Why get up? Do you believe you're fighting for something, for more than your survival? Can you tell me what it is, do you even know? Is it freedom or truth, perhaps peace - could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Anderson, vagaries of perception. Temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose! And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself. Although, only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love. You must be able to see it, Mr. Anderson, you must know it by now! You can't win, it's pointless to keep fighting! Why, Mr. Anderson, why?! why do you persist?! / Neo: Because I choose to.

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