The Matrix - Script Teardown - Featured - StudioBinder

The Matrix script served as the blueprint for one of the greatest movies of all-time. The Matrix has some of the best quotes, some of the strongest characters, and a great ending. 

What can we learn from The Matrix screenplay?

The Matrix Script

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WHO WROTE THE Matrix SCRIPT?

Written by Lana Wackowski and Lilly Wackowski

Lilly Wackowski & Lana Wackowski got their start by writing the script for the film Assassins, though it was heavily revised by Brian Helgeland. Their next film was Bound. Their next project was The Matrix, which lead to The Matrix Trilogy franchise. They went on to write V for Vendetta, Cloud Atlas, Speed Racer, Jupiter Ascending, and Sense8.

The Matrix PLOT

Story beats in the The Matrix script

Here is the story summary for the The Matrix screenplay:

Script Teardown

Script Structure of The Matrix

1. EXPOSITION (BEGINNING)

The Matrix script begins with Trinity and Cypher on a phone call that is being traced by an unknown party. We pick up with police storming an apartment where we meet Trinity. They attempt to arrest her, but she escapes to a telephone booth where she disappears into thin air.

2. INCIDITING INCIDENT

Neo follows the white rabbit to the nightclub where he meets Trinity. She tells Neo that he is being watched and that she can help him answer the most important questions he may have. The next day, Neo receives a cell phone in a FedEx package. He is told to escape to a corner office but is captured.

3. CLIMAX OF ACT ONE

Neo meets Morpheus, Trinity, and the rest of the crew who take him to an abandoned apartment. Morpheus gives Neo the opportunity to choose his destiny through the choice of two pills. Neo takes the red pill, and is sucked out of The Matrix and into the real world.

4. OBSTACLES (RISING ACTION)

Morpheus gives Neo a breakdown of The Matrix. We learn The Matrix is a computer program used to enslave humans. We learn about the existential threat from the machines. Neo and Morpheus fight in the Dojo and do the Jump program, but Neo fails, indicating he may not be “The One”.

5. MIDPOINT (BIG TWIST)

Morpheus and the crew take Neo to see the Oracle. Neo learns that his potential isn’t in the hands of anyone other than himself, and that he needed to believe in himself if he would ever be able to make a difference. Cypher then leaves a cell-phone that is tracked by the agents to the crew’s position. They’re ambushed and Morpheus is captured.

6. DISASTER & CRISIS

Cypher gets back to the ship before the rest of the group. He shoots Tank and kills Dozer. As he tells Trinity why he betrayed them, Cypher kills Switch and Apoc. Right before he goes to kill Neo, he is surprised to find Tank is still alive. Tank grabs a gun and kills Cypher. Tank explains that the Agents are attempting to hack into Morpheus’ mind.

7. CLIMAX OF ACT TWO

Neo decides to go back in after Morpheus. He is joined by Trinity. They gear up to go in after Morpheus and then storm the building where a huge gunfight erupts.

8. OBSTACLES (RISING ACTION)

Neo and Trinity fight on the roof of the building. Neo unloads a clip at an agent who dodges all of the bullets. When the Agent returns fire, Neo dodges the rounds in “bullet time”. Trinity and Neo retrieve Morpheus with a helicopter, and Neo saves Trinity.

9. CLIMAX OF ACT THREE

Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus head to the subway station to escape. Trinity and Morpheus make it out, but the phone is destroyed right before Neo can escape. Instead of running, he turns to fight Agent Smith. Neo kills him, but then runs once Smith takes the place of another body. 

10. RESOLUTION

Neo is shot in the chest and dies, but he becomes so enlightened that he’s able to come back to life, stop bullets with his mind, and destroys Agent Smith. He calls The Matrix to tell it that he will free the human race.

The Matrix Script Takeaway #1

The Matrix quotes

The Matrix quotes aren’t just some of the best movie quotes of all time, they’re based around some of the most significant and also confusing philosophical concepts that surround existence and humanity. 

Read the Red Pill Scene in The Matrix

The Matrix quotes range from really great movie lines that the normal movie viewer will enjoy but also some really great explanations of science, computers, the possible future of AI, and call backs to some of the most important stories told about existence and self-imprisonment. 

Some of these quotes come from Morpheus, Neo, and Trinity, but some of the best Matrix quotes actually come from the agents as well.

The Matrix Quotes

Here is a list of the great The Matrix quotes:

“No, Lieutenant, your men are already dead.”

“You ever get the feeling that you’re not sure if you’re awake or still dreaming?”

“What is the Matrix?”

“And tell me, Mr. Anderson, what good is a phone call if you are unable to speak?”

“Do you believe in fate, Neo? No. Why Not? Because I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life. I know exactly what you mean.”

“Welcome to the real world”

“I know Kung Fu.”

“What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you feel, taste, smell, or see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

“My name... is Neo.”

The Matrix Script Takeaway #2

The Matrix Characters

The Matrix characters were conceived as a mixture of various characters from previous stories and historical figures. Let’s take a look:

Neo — Not only is “Neo” an anagram for “One”, but he is also representative of many classic heroes and religious figures known as the bearer of enlightenment.

Read the Main Deck Scene in The Matrix

Morpheus — This name originates from the Greek word for “form” and eventually came to represent the “God of Dreams”. Morpheus often disguised himself as human figures and symbols.

Behind the scenes for The Matrix

Matrix characters are all, in one way or another, inspired by religion, philosophy, The Hero’s Journey, and stories like Alice and Wonderland. In the script, Morpheus is even described to be like the Cheshire Cat.

The Matrix Script Takeaway #3

The Matrix Ending

The Matrix ending is one of the strongest in the history of film, and yet it relies heavily on some magical rules, but that’s okay. Not only has the film done plenty to back up this concept, but we are so immersed in the the character that the plot becomes secondary to Neo’s transformation. 

Read the Ending Scene in The Matrix 

The Matrix ending is also really, really exciting right up until the very end of the film. There is the final fight that features both Kung Fu fighting and Wild West gunplay all set against a science fiction environment.

The Matrix Ending

The Matrix ending also wows the viewer with some really fantastic special effects and a ticking clock that makes us wonder if the crew will make it out, if Neo will make it out, and what comes next.

Up Next

The Dark Knight script analysis

Now that you have a better understanding of The Matrix script, why not continue learning about more screenplays. See our script analysis for The Dark Knight so you can write your own superhero script. 

Up Next: The Dark Knight Script Analysis →
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