Even the most die-hard Matrix fans cringe at the thought of one scene in particular. You know the one. In The Matrix Reloaded, when Neo encounters an entire horde of Agent Smiths and attempts to fight them, there’s a moment when the action suddenly shifts from live-action to CGI graphics on-par with a PlayStation 2 cutscene — which was pretty advanced at the time!
For almost two decades, fans and critics alike have dismissed Reloaded’s courtyard scene as a low point for the trilogy, but what if it’s actually proof of a Matrix-bending power possessed by Neo we'd never considered before? Sure, the One can dodge bullets and even stop machines in the real world, but is he also capable of controlling the visual quality of the Matrix itself?
Neo’s new Matrix-altering power
A new fan theory from Redditor u/Thin_Guarantee_5653 argues that in The Matrix Reloaded, Neo purposefully lowers the resolution of the Matrix to avoid additional lag to the simulation caused by all those extra Agent Smiths. This would explain why the movie seamlessly shifts between live-action and full-blow computer animation.
It’s a bit like a Call of Duty player purposefully lowering the resolution to avoid lag. Bad graphics might be annoying, but a physical delay can mean the difference between winning and losing.
But that’s not all. The theorist also points to several other clues. When Agent Smith first appears he’s surrounded by crows, but after Neo blinks, the crows are gone. (Coincidence? Or Neo removing extra details from the simulation on purpose?) Finally, we never see a reflection in Neo’s sunglasses during the scene, which is another small detail a game developer might remove to focus computing power where it matters most.
Why this matters in The Matrix 4
It’s one thing to look back at an 18-year-old movie and find new details. It’s an entirely different thing when there’s a sequel coming out later this year.
The Matrix Resurrections is already set to challenge everything we know about this franchise. So is it possible that when Neo returns, he’ll have even more control over the simulation than he did in the original trilogy? Or, to put it another way, will Neo make better use of his old powers in Matrix 4 than he did in the last three films?
"What the viewers will come to understand is that there are many rules of the Matrix," he said. "Age, appearance, the things we identify as real, can be manipulated in that world. The Matrix is where anything is possible."
Abdul-Mateen is specifically talking about his character, but his quote extends beyond just Morpheus. The Matrix has always been malleable, and it seems Neo was just scratching the surface of his powers in the original trilogy.
When Neo returns in The Matrix Resurrections, he may have an incredible new tool at his disposal: the ability to lower anyone’s resolution at will.
The Matrix Resurrections premieres in theaters and on HBO Max on December 22.