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“Millions of people just living out their lives…oblivious.” Those are the words first spoken by Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith while interrogating Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) in the original Matrix from 1999. They’re the same words repeated to Keanu Reeves’ Neo 20 years later in The Matrix Resurrections, only it isn’t Weaving delivering the monologue this time, but the sinister villain played by Jonathan Groff (Mindhunter).
It’s one of many deja vu moments teased in the sequel’s new trailer, which is full of easter eggs and callbacks to the trilogy that saw Neo freed from the Matrix and later save the rest of humanity from vicious, reality-altering machines. Every character in this movie — whether it’s Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), Jessica Henwick’s acrobatic Bugs, or Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s younger Morpheus — seems to rhyme with a character or event from the past. It may all have something to do with the “strange, repeating loops” that Morpheus claims we’re all trapped in.
But while the other deja vus introduce more questions than they answer, the Groff/Smith moments seem as clear as day: Neo’s archnemesis seems to have found a way once again to enter the Matrix, this time with a shell that looks a lot like a certain Broadway star.
If you haven’t already, check out the new trailer before we talk Smith:
So, there are a few clues throughout the trailer that Groff’s character is a new version of Agent Smith, one as ready to kill Neo as Hugo Weaving’s obsessive bad guy…
We’ve already covered Groff’s familiar line, so let’s talk about how it’s possible Smith could look like someone else 20 years later. The Matrix Revolutions set the precedence that a program’s digital shell (physical appearance) could be compromised or altered. In that movie, the Oracle’s shell was stolen after Sati‘s parents traded that particular bit of code to the Merovingian in exchange for their daughter’s life. This bit of in-universe lore was used to explain why the Oracle looked like Mary Alice in Revolutions and not the late Gloria Foster, who played the character in the first two movies.
It’s possible that Smith’s demise at the hands of Neo and the Machines only deleted his shell and not his entire code, allowing the villain to once again rebuild himself over time — but in a new, younger form (who also seems to have a corner office at the top of a giant skyscraper in Resurrections).
The skyscraper setting where Neo and Groff will later have a showdown in the trailer also rhymes with the Morpheus interrogation and rescue scenes from 1999. But we’ll get there in a second.
Here’s another clear sign that Groff’s character has at the very least a deep knowledge of Neo’s past history with Smith. Groff removes the mouth from his own face, mirroring the scene where Smith did the same to Mr. Anderson in The Matrix while trying to get him to rat on Morpheus. It’s a shocking moment of body horror that Groff is happy to replicate for his adversary here, likely as a way to startle him.
Back to the way Neo’s meeting with Groff-Smith rhymes with the Morpheus scenes from the first movie. At some point, the building’s sprinkler system will be activated as Neo and Groff fight, which is very reminiscent of the very wet, chaotic skyscraper rescue scene from 1999 when Neo blasted away the agents with a turret.
You can hear this new version of Smith once again dead-naming Neo, calling him “Mr. Anderson” with so much hatred on his face. We see him pull out a pistol and take a shot at Neo, a moment that likely connects to a scene from the first trailer where we see Reeves kneeling before a gun pointed at his head. How is this going to play out?!
We know Neo’s fight with Groff won’t be isolated to a single executive’s office. They’ll also fight in what looks like a dilapidated bathroom that evokes not only their very first battle in the city’s subway system but also Morpheus’ sacrifice in the second act of The Matrix. There too the captain of the Nebuchadnezzar gets his ass kicked by Smith in an old bathroom. But we know from the final moment in this trailer that Neo can still hold his own, declaring to Groff that he still knows kung fu. Here are your member berries, aren’t they delicious?
But as we’ve learned throughout The Matrix saga, not all is always as it seems. Is it possible that the Groff scenes in the trailer are just a misdirection? After all, the Groff/Smith connection does seem oh so obvious, while so many of the other loops are far more mysterious. What if Smith is actually wearing a completely different face?
For months, fans have been asking what the hell is going on with Abdul-Mateen’s Morpheus. How can Morpheus be so young again when Neo, Trinity, Niobe, and the Merovingian have all aged both in and outside the Matrix? Well, is it possible that’s not really Morpheus at all but someone else wearing a familiar face to trick the good guys?
In a previous teaser also themed around the concept of deja vu, The Matrix Resurrections offers a very intriguing possibility. At one point, as Trinity warns Neo about the danger of deja vus in the teaser, Weaving’s face slowly transforms into Abdul-Mateen’s, whose Morpheus is also wearing a very familiar get-up…
We first saw Morpheus dressed as an agent in the first trailer. He can be seen running down a hallway with Bugs as other agents chase after them. It was easy to assume then that this was somehow Morpheus in disguise, pretending to be an agent in order to infiltrate some enemy holdout or other. But the aforementioned teaser suggests that the rabbit hole goes much deeper than that.
Could Morpheus actually be Smith disguising himself in order to hit Neo where it’ll hurt the most? It certainly would add new meaning to their scenes inside the dojo where Morpheus goads Neo into fighting for Trinity.
What are your Smith theories? I’d love to read them in the comments!
The Matrix Resurrections opens in theaters and on HBO Max on Dec. 22.