The Story Structure of “The Matrix”

This was created for internal structure reference, but I am posting it here for general viewing:

Act I

Sequence 1 (Will Neo discover what the Matrix is?)

The film opens with a teaser: Agents and police pursue Trinity, who vanishes after barely making it to a phone booth in time. Besides introducing Trinity, this scene sets up the tone as well as several of the rules of the film, namely that certain individuals (Trinity, the Agents) have almost superhuman abilities, but others (the cops, in this scene) are oblivious and relatively powerless. It also sets up the idea that people can vanish using telephones (although we don’t know where to, yet), and also plants the existence of an informant.

We then meet Neo in his nominal life in a dingy apartment, and he is cryptically told by his computer to “follow the white rabbit,” which leads him to a club where he meets Trinity and is left with more riddles about the Matrix.


Sequence 2 (Can Neo escape the Agents and meet Morpheus?)

Neo receives a phone call from Morpheus, who tells him that he is about to be apprehended by authorities that have just entered his office.  With Morpheus’ help, Neo makes it to a ledge, but gives up when it becomes too dangerous. Neo is then captured and interrogated by Agent Smith. After refusing to cooperate, a “bug” is implanted in him.

Neo wakes up and meets up with Trinity (and friends). They extract the bug and take him to Morpheus, who offers him a red pill (knowledge of truth, understanding) and a blue pill (ignorance). He takes the red pull and plunges “into the rabbit hole.”


Act II (Dramatic question: “Will Neo master the Matrix and become The One?,” and emotional needs/wants: Neo wants to understand the secrets of the Matrix, and needs to be the master of his life.)

Sequence 3 (Can Neo adapt to life outside the Matrix and discover his purpose in the real world?)

Neo enters the “real world”: he wakes up in a “pod” and is disconnected and brought aboard the Nebuchadnezzar. Morpheus shows Neo “the construct” as a demonstration of how the Matrix works. There are indications that Neo was brought out of the Matrix because everyone expects him to be something extraordinary. Morpheus begins Neo’s training: After having combat tactics uploaded into his brain, Neo fights Morpheus in a training simulation. Neo shows promise but fails a critical test. Despite this initial failure, Morpheus’ faith in Neo is unwavering: he tells Neo that he when he is ready, he will be more powerful than even the Agents.


Sequence 4 (Will the Oracle confirm Neo’s purpose?)

The Nebuchadnezzar barely escapes a group of malicious drones. Cypher tells Neo that everyone thinks he is there to “save the world,” but that Morpheus would have taken him to see the Oracle by now if that was really true. We learn that Cypher is collaborating with the Agents in order to reclaim his ignorant bliss. Neo and the crew enter the Matrix and go to meet the Oracle, who tells Neo that he “has the gift” but is not The One, despite Morpheus’ beliefs.  The Oracle tells Neo that he will soon have to choose between saving Morpheus’ life or his own.


Sequence 5 (Can Neo (and friends) get out of the Matrix alive?)

The usual exit route back to the “real world” is besieged by Agents and their police henchmen. During their escape, Morpheus is captured. Back on the Nebuchadnezzar, Cypher attacks and immobilizes Tank and Dozer. Cypher reveals to the helpless crew inside the Matrix his collaboration with the Agents and his hatred of the “real world.” Cypher unplugs and kills two members of the Nebuchadnezzar crew before being killed by Tank. Trinity and Neo finally make it back to the Nebuchadnezzar. With a total death count of three, Morpheus captured, and Neo believing that he is not The One, they are in a bad way.


Sequence 6 (Can Neo and Trinity rescue Morpheus?)

The Agents continue to interrogate Morpheus. Tank says that they should pull the plug on Morpheus to prevent the Agents from extracting information from him. Neo makes a stand and says that he will instead go in and rescue Morpheus. After a huge lobby shootout, followed by a huge rooftop shootout, Neo and Trinity rescue Morpheus via helicopter using moves that “nobody ever has seen before,” proving to everyone (except, perhaps, Neo himself) that he is The One. Morpheus clarifies that the Oracle earlier told him “what he needed to hear.” Trinity and Morpheus escape back to the ship, but Neo is trapped behind.



Sequence 7 (Can Neo escape the Matrix?)

Neo fights and defeats Agent Smith, but Smith regenerates into another body, and (along with other Agents) chases Neo. Meanwhile, the Nebuchadnezzar is again attacked by drones, but the crew can’t use their primary defense, the EMP, because it would disconnect and kill Neo. The chase inside the Matrix comes to a halt when Agent Smith unloads a clip into Neo’s chest, flat-lining his body back on the “real world.” Trinity tells Neo that he cant be dead because the Oracle told her that she would fall in love with The One. Neo comes back to life and comes into full focus… he stops bullets and destroys Agent Smith from the inside out.  He escapes the Matrix just in time for the EMP to go off and destroy the drones.


Sequence 8 (Essentially an epilogue… the new “normal”)

Neo is seen in his new life, liberating people from the Matrix as Morpheus did for him, and attaining a new power and mastery.








© 2012 Benjamin Kantor. All rights reserved.