Fan-favorite superstar Keanu Reeves was the perfect choice to play the iconic Neo in the sci-fi pop culture phenomenon known as the Matrix. Neo became a window for audiences to see through the heavy symbolism and themes of the films, while encouraging them to ask questions about the nature of reality.
In some ways, Neo was the everyday ordinary guy, and in other ways he was a Messiah figure who would lead humanity to salvation. It’s hard to tell which side saved the day, and even the character himself had trouble figuring that out. Nevertheless, Neo remains one of the coolest protagonists in any science fiction film to date, and here’s ten quotes that prove it.
10 “How About I Give You The Finger, And You Give Me My Phone Call.”
The man known as Thomas Anderson flew largely under the radar, but he was already engaged in practically every illegal hacking crime known to man (and machine) at that point. His sense that the world wasn’t right was born straight out of the so-called “anomaly” that affected less than one percent of the Matrix’s inhabitants.
Agent Smith tried to play on this realization when he learned that Morpheus had been in contact with him. He attempted to recruit him in a bid to wipe his hacking charges clean, but Neo wasn’t having any of it. He dropped this hilarious quote and stood in total defiance to his machine overlords for the first time.
9 “I Know Kung-Fu!”
Upon awakening from his long sleep, Neo found himself in a dystopian future world ravaged by a war with the sentient machines. After struggling to come to grips with the “the desert of the real,” he began to accept things as they were. First duty was to get Neo up to speed on how to handle himself in the Matrix, and Tank was all-too-keen to start with combat training.
After going at it for ours, Neo amassed a huge sum of information on everything from weapons training to martial arts skills. Upon absorbing the latest download, he awoke to find Morpheus standing over him, and uttered this quote which went on to become part of the pop culture lexicon.
8 “Guns. LOTS Of Guns.”
Realizing that it was only a matter of time before Morpheus’ mind would crack under pressure from Smith and his Agents, Neo decided to go all in on one massive assault on the building they were holding him in. Trinity joined him, unsure of whether she’d just signed her own death warrant or not.
Meanwhile, a highly reluctant Tank began setting the two up for insertion into the Matrix, and he asked Neo what they needed, besides a prayer. Neo quickly responded with this quote before two huge shelving units rushed in loaded with enough firearms to level a decent-sized country, three times over.
7 [Trinity] “Neo, No One Has Ever Done Anything Like This.” [Neo] “That’s Why It’s Going To Work.”
While stocking up on weapons, Trinity demonstrated her trepidation at taking on what should have been a suicide mission from the very first moment. Neo replied back to her with this quote to bolster her spirits by finally taking charge of his own destiny as it pertained to the Matrix.
The key factor here was choice, a theme that would pop up repeatedly throughout the Matrix trilogy, right until the final curtain. Neo was told he wasn’t good enough to be The One, but it was up to him to believe it or not. Regardless of his personal feelings, Neo was willing to put faith in himself.
6 “I Don’t Know The Future. I Didn’t Come Here To Tell You How This Is Going To End. I Came Here To Tell You How It’s Going To Begin.”
Upon assuming the awesome powers of The One, Neo was instantly able to mold and bend the Matrix to his own will. He demonstrated this by exceeding the limitations of the fearsome Agents and destroying Smith in the process. Finally, he had come to understand what being The One meant.
After the day was won, Neo sent a message to the Matrix overlords by sending a transmission via phone call that was half-threat, half-revelation. The One had arrived, and he was about to undo the Matrix by showing people the totalitarian control method it really was.
5 “Hiya’ Fellas.”
The opening act of the second Matrix film started with a bang during a secret meeting with the human resistance members. When Agents caught wind of the meeting, they arrived at the location and busted down the door, only to find Neo on the other side.
No longer the regular human that wouldn’t stand a chance against these frightening killers, Neo calmly stood his ground and greeted all three with confidence and a complete lack of anything resembling fear. He knew who was in charge.
4 “Hmmm, Upgrades.”
The battle with the Agents began with one thinking he could take Neo on single-handedly, which didn’t pan out quite the way he thought. However, he was able to catch one of Neo’s wrists before landing a punch, signifying that the Matrix had given the Agents a new set of upgrades.
Neo wasn’t perturbed, but amused by the fact that the Agents might actually pose a challenge for him. All three attacked, and Neo handled it with grace and accuracy, knocking every single one of them down.
3 “If I Were You, I Would Hope We Don’t Meet Again.”
When Neo finally met the Architect of the Matrix, it opened his eyes in a way he did not expect. What should have been a simple mission to end a war had soon turned into a revelation that the entire thing was orchestrated by the Architect as a means of perpetuating the Matrix’s control over humanity.
Neo was given an ultimatum that would either lead to Zion’s destruction, or its salvation. The anomaly in the mixture was Trinity’s life, which was hanging in the balance at the moment. Before leaving to save her, Neo issued this threat to the Architect.
2 “The Program Smith Has Grown Beyond Your Control. Soon He Will Spread Through This City, As He Spread Through The Matrix. You Cannot Stop Him. But I Can.”
Realizing that the war between Zion and the machines would end in humanity’s defeat, Neo pulled out the last ace up his sleeve and headed towards the Machine City. He capitalized on the rise of Agent Smith to strike a deal with the machines in exchange for a ceasefire.
This quote summed up not only Neo’s powers, but his purpose as well. The machines were unable to root out Smith’s virus-like presence from the Matrix without a backdoor, and Neo was the one who could provide it. In the end, it would cost him his own life.
1 [Agent Smith] “Why, Mr. Anderson? Why? Why Do You Persist?” [Neo] “Because I CHOOSE To.”
The battle between Neo and Smith was brutal and climatic. Each hit landed released explosive amounts of kinetic energy that shattered windows and rattled buildings down to their foundation. The two battled on land and in the sky before Smith managed to gain the upper hand.
Broken and exhausted, Neo rose up to stand his ground until the last breath, prompting Smith to ask why he kept persisting even in the face of defeat. The recurring theme of choice returned one final time in Neo’s reply, demonstrating what the entire trilogy was all about.
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