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Agent Smith

Agent Smith (later merely "Smith") is a fictional character featured in the Matrix film series and multimedia franchise, played by actor Hugo Weaving. The struggle between Neo and Smith becomes the main conflict underlying the events of The Matrix: which makes Smith the primary antagonist.

As an Agent of the System

Smith is an Agent, an artificial intelligence manifested in the Matrix and possessing extraordinary powers to manipulate his surroundings (including superhuman strength and the ability to flawlessly dodge incoming bullets). However, Agents still have limitations, being "based in a world that is built on rules". Consequently, he cannot fly, walk through walls, or perform any other actions outside the boundaries of his programming. Like all Agents in the Matrix, he was originally programmed to keep order within the system by terminating troublesome programs and human avatars which would otherwise bring instability to the simulated reality. To expedite such tasks, he and other Agents have the ability to take over the simulated body of any human that is a part of the Matrix, converting it into a copy of their own. If that body is killed, or an Agent needs to change his location quickly, he can assume the shell of any other human hard-wired to the Matrix in a matter of seconds. Agents also have the ability to communicate with each other instantaneously, represented via their earpieces (thus, when Agent Smith removed his earpiece during the first Matrix movie, he briefly severed his link with the other Agents).

Stylistic genealogy

The look and manner of Smith and his fellow Agents seem to be drawn from American pop culture. One influence appears to be the popular image of federal law enforcement agents as ruthlessly efficient automata who carry out their duties with cold precision and General American accents. Smith sometimes draws out words, or takes unnatural pauses in speech (example: "Mis...ter Anderson"), perhaps because he is a program, and needs to premediate, or 'figure out' what to say.

All Agents are Caucasian males (with a minor exception of female Agent Pace from the Matrix Online game), which also provides a dynamic compared to the majority population of Zion, containing many diverse cultures and walks of life. Agents wear dark sunglasses with corners or smooth angles. The Caucasian male Agents simply show a blandness and an apathy for the human race, with the exception of Smith's obsession with destroying Neo and his general hatred of humans.

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

In addition, the name "Smith" is explicitly attributed (as "IS 5416" on the license plate of Smith's car in The Matrix Reloaded) to in the Old Testament:

"Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy."

In creating such a program to carry out menial tasks, the Machines lay the foundations for their own destruction, a direct parallel to the creation of AI by humankind.

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.

Smith's weapon of choice, as standard with all the Agents within the Matrix, is the Desert Eagle, chambered with the high caliber .44 Magnum (determined by the number of rounds fired from the gun) ammunition. All his clones carry this weapon as well. In the first film, Smith is shown killing Neo with the gun, however the number of times he fires it in this scene exceeds the actual capacity of the .50AE Desert Eagle, which is seven rounds.

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 his face.)

Departure from the norm

Smith is significantly more individualistic than the other agents from the start. Other agents rarely act without consulting each other on the earpieces the agents use to communicate. Smith far more often uses his to issue orders or gather information before acting on his own direction. The earpieces also 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.

Agent Smith complains 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 literal virus, multiplying until he has overrun and remade the entire Matrix.

During Morpheus' imprisonment:

I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had, during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you aren’t actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with its surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we... are the cure.

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

Smith also appears to be the leader of other Agents, in that he has the authority to launch Sentinel attacks in the real world. As with other Agents, Smith generally does approach problems through a pragmatic point of view, but if necessary will also act with brute force and apparent rage.

The Wachowski brothers 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.

Free Agency

As a result of being partially overwritten by The One, Smith also begins to exhibit stronger, more virulent human behaviors and emotions such as unpredictability and dry humor (this is a clear departure from his stern demeanor in the original movie). He makes the claim that Neo has set him free, indicating that he now has not only the vision but also the ability to break free of the machines' control and exist as a singular being. He is now allied with no one but himself, rendering him an outlaw to both the Matrix and the human minds which populate it. Being free of burden, however, Smith is also compelled to feel that he is still crushed by the weight of purpose. He essentially correlates purpose with imprisonment, and because he still exists within The Matrix, there is an unseen purpose which binds together Neo and himself.

The idea of Smith's transformation from being an Agent of the System into becoming a "free Agent" is similar to Satan's Fall from Grace. In both cases, a former Agent of the System (in the two sequels, Smith is no longer referred to as "Agent Smith", but simply as "Smith") becomes able to move freely, and comes to have a dangerously rebellious and opposite nature. The virus-like qualities he gains may also be a reference to this, as one of the traditional titles of a demon is Legion, for they were many.

Revelation of purpose

Agent Smith appears to have been destroyed by Neo at the end of the first movie in The Matrix trilogy, but he makes a calculated return in The Matrix Reloaded with somewhat altered abilities and motivations, in addition to dropping the title "Agent". His appearance has changed from the first movie as well; his sunglasses are of a different, more angular shape than the square ones the Agents wear and his suit is now black instead of dark green (Matrix code): physical signs of his connection with Neo. Smith also lacks the earpiece most Agents wear on their right ear, showing he is now "unplugged". Smith loses his ability to phase into any body connected to the Matrix at will, as he is no longer directly a part of the system. Instead, Smith is now infectious through touch; by jabbing his hand into the body of another being in the Matrix, a Smith can convert that being into another Smith, replicating himself in much the way a computer virus might.

  • Although Smith gains the power to copy other Agents, in truth Smith only copies the body the Agent was possessing at that time. The program of the Agent can move to another body, as demonstrated in The Matrix Reloaded. However, this was nullified when Smith and his clones dominated the entire population of the Matrix.
  • Smith is also able to copy over redpills, something regular Agents cannot do. When he does copy over redpills, he can inhabit their physical bodies when he jacks out of the Matrix, as in the case of Bane. Luckily, most redpills were in Zion at the time of Smith's return, making Bane the only one possessed by Smith. However, Smith was nearly successful when he attempted to absorb Niobe and Ghost, two other redpills in the game Enter the Matrix. Like Neo, they were able to repel the attack and managed to elude Smith. Also, he is briefly seen attempting to copy over Morpheus, but is stopped by Neo.
  • Keeping in the theme of machines, Smith's behavior is very similar to a computer virus, which also copies its programming into or over other files. This is somewhat fitting; Smith notes in The Matrix he considers human beings a "virus", and in the process of becoming more human, Smith has also become a virus. In a bizarre irony, he becomes what he hates most about humans: something which consumes all resources before moving on and acting without reason or logic.

Against the Anomaly

In The Matrix Revolutions, Smith's presence in the Matrix has consumed all of 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 for Smith to be eliminated, the equation must be "unbalanced". Smith has already begun absorbing all the inhabitants of the Matrix; every single human being plugged into it, and every single program functioning inside it, including the Oracle. When he absorbs the Oracle, the process apparently granted him her powers of foresight, as well as reality-bending powers equivalent to those possessed by Neo. Towards the end of the movie, Neo engages a single Smith, in a seemingly endless struggle between two forces of equal might. The other Smiths do not participate, because Oracle/Smith explains he has foreseen that he is the Smith that will beat Neo. In the midst of this battle, Smith explains to Neo his final nihilistic revelation, he has come to learn from Neo ("It was your life that taught me the purpose of all life.") that "the purpose of life is to end." Smith also intended to conquer the real world as well, and had Neo not defeated him he would have succeeded in escaping the Matrix, taking over the machines, and destroying Zion itself.

After an arduous battle in midair, Neo is smashed into the ground by an enraged Smith, making a large impact crater. Smith asks why Neo fights when he knows he will lose: "Is it freedom or truth? Perhaps peace? Could it be for love?", reasons which he believes are

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. 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?
Smith is enraged by Neo's simple and irrational answer: "Because I choose to".

Ultimately, Smith prevails, beating Neo unconscious. Suddenly recognizing the scene from the prophecy, he stands before Neo and says, "Wait... I've seen this... This is it, this is the end! Yes, you were lying right there just like that and I... I... I stand here, right here and I'm... supposed to say something..." In a moment of confusion, Smith reveals that he is merely following what the prophecy tells him he should do. In spite of his gaining the oracle's vision, he remains blind. He continues on, regaining his composure.

"I say... Everything that has a beginning has an end, Neo". This is the only time that Smith does not call him "Mr. Anderson" to his face , and Smith displays noticeable confusion after this, apparently not knowing what he has just said. This suggests that it is the Oracle within Smith and not Smith himself who speaks here. Unable to overpower Smith, Neo understands that he will never beat him in this way. He surrenders to Smith, who absorbs him, seemingly conquering his enemy.

The "absorption" is not one-sided, with either force conquering the other. Rather, there is a union of opposites, of thesis and antithesis, leading to the synthesis of the new beginning, in which the Matrix, with its equation of oppression and control, is unbalanced. Because Neo has been connected to the Matrix by the "god of machines" itself, the union between Smith and Neo results in Smith's being directly connected to the machine god, allowing him to finally be deleted.

MegaSmith

In The Matrix: Path of Neo, the final boss is the MegaSmith. The MegaSmith was used for gameplay reasons, because though the Wachowski Brothers 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 brothers 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 nosebar, but when the MegaSmith actually puts them on, they've suddenly turned into the ones Agent Smith wears in The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions, with the straight nosebar and a different shape.

After the fight, Neo flies straight into MegaSmith's mouth, causing the Smiths throughout the Matrix to overload and explode. We then cut to a shot seen in The Matrix: Revolutions of the streets shining with light from the destroyed Smiths.

The Smith Virus in The Matrix Online

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

Chronologically the first 'infection' was noted in Machine mission controller Agent Gray whose background information confirms that sometime during the timeline of the second/third films was, like so much else, overwritten by Smith. 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.

Secondly there was the case of Machine liaison officer, DifferenceEngine. Following a similar scenario to that of the previous Agent Gray infection the machine program too took on the dialect and emotional characteristics of the famous exile agent. However, what was notable about this case was the liaison's insistence 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 then proceeded to lock down his RSI and return his program to The Source for analysis. His fate since is unknown. Third 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 infectees were eventually cleansed and returned to their bluepill lives. However, Shane Black's troubles weren't over yet as he was one of the bluepills recorded to have first witnessed Unlimited redpills practising their new found 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 he had obtained a new and more dangerous form. What this form is remains to be seen, though it evidently means Smith will return to attempt to retake the Matrix.

Powers

Agent Smith is initially a regular agent program in the Matrix. Like other Agents, he can also jump from one bluepill's body to another, a technique which he uses to chase Neo during a pursuit in the first film.

After being freed from the control of the machines, Smith learned that he can copy his programming into bluepills, redpills and other programs, thus making numerous clones of himself. Smith used these copies to battle Neo and other redpills on multiple occasions. This power leads to him being the arguably most powerful program towards the end of the series. His different forms are shown to have vastly different abilities as to reflect the original programs/persons that he had overwritten. This is most clear through the extremely powerful Smith originating from the Oracle who beats Neo in a one on one combat. Smith seems to keep some memory from the original subject during the copying process as he quotes Sati.

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