Who The Agents Work For & How Their Powers Work


The agents of The Matrix made for effective villains throughout the sci-fi trilogy, but how did their powers work and who were they working for?

The agents of The Matrix made for effective villains throughout the sci-fi trilogy, but how did their powers work and who were they working for? Beginning with the release of The Matrix in 1999, the Wachowski Sisters’ Matrix trilogy was a trio of era-defining cyberpunk dystopia movies that blended sci-fi pop philosophy with intense action sequences to create a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience.

The directors have since gone on to explain that the Matrix movies were a metaphor for throwing off enforced social conventions where taking the ‘red pill’ reveals the illusory status of these seemingly immoveable norms, but many interesting elements of the trilogy remain shrouded in mystery nonetheless. For example, few viewers understand the powers wielded by the Matrix trilogy’s identical Agents, minor villains who recur throughout the franchise, or who they are working for in the series.

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Related: Matrix 4 Theory: Jonathan Groff Is Playing The New Agent Smith

The Matrix movies have a complex (some might say convoluted) mythology which requires some dissection to understand the lore of the movies. Inspired by both technological advancements and a combination of Eastern and Western philosophy, at is core, the Matrix movies are the story of Neo, a hacker who is shown the truth behind his world’s simulated reality in the first film. The world as he knows it is revealed to be a mirage created by sentient machines who mine energy from unconscious humans to keep themselves running. Where do the agents fit into this story? Universally well-dressed white males, the agents are computer programs whose use their super-strength and speed to eliminate any chance of the eponymous matrix’s human inhabitants discovering that they’re living in a simulation. As elements of their software simulation, the agents work for the machines to maintain the comfortable false consciousness of their captive human batteries.

Agent Smith Was Supposed To Return For The Matrix 4

As advanced software, the agents have plenty of powers such as the aforementioned super-strength and super-speed. Most famously, they can dodge oncoming bullets as seen in The Matrix‘s famous “bullet-time sequences.” However, their powers are also limited by the fact that they are only part of The Matrix‘s machine-controlled computer simulation and as such must abide by the rules of their constructed reality, meaning they are unable to fly or walk through walls (unless they’re the superpower virus agent Smith, for whom the rules don’t apply, since he’s a virus). As the machines harvest human energy, agents work to ensure the humans never realize their status as batteries and as such compromise the operation.

Like so much real-life software, the agents don’t work all that well, since there is an entire underground resistance movement populated by humans who are working to overthrow the machines. But by and large, the agents act in the employ of the machines, save for (spoilers for the less-liked, issue-ridden Matrix sequels), the primary antagonist of the series, the aforementioned eventual virus Agent Smith. A literal rogue agent, Smith becomes a law unto himself and eventually causes so much chaos he unintentionally brokers a peace deal between the humans and machines solely so they can take him down. Before this development though, the rest of the agents who appear throughout The Matrix mythology are working for the machines, and so their abilities are limited to bullet-dodging, super-strength, and speed.

More: Why Modern Sci-fi Movies Owe A Debt To A Cronenberg Body Horror Classic

Key Release Dates

  • The Matrix 4 (2021)Release date: Dec 22, 2021

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Updated: November 29, 2020 — 2:08 am

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