Why Agents In The Matrix Resurrections Don't Look Like You'd Expect

This post contains spoilers for "The Matrix Resurrections."

In "The Matrix Resurrections," the simulated reality inside the Matrix has undergone some changes since moviegoers last caught up with it around the turn of the millennium. One of those changes relates to the antagonistic Agents and the nature of their appearance.

When viewers first entered the Matrix back in 1999, Agents were easily identifiable by their Men in Black attire. They wore dark suits with shades and earpieces, and anytime they took over someone's body, that person's face would spaz out and morph into an Agent with sunglasses.

This is no longer the case in "The Matrix Resurrections." Now, anyone can become an Agent without their appearance much altering beyond their eyes. The movie doesn't linger long on the explanation for this, except to mention briefly that Agents now have the ability to graft a "normal skin" onto their digital appearance. It's part of a general pattern of upgrades to the Matrix, which also makes it so that Neo (Keanu Reeves) and other new characters like Bug (Jessica Henwick) "don't have to run to phone booths anymore" to exit the system.

The Perils of Swarm Mode

The new Agents are able to blend in easier, which, in principle, makes them more dangerous. As Neo and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) learn, you can't always see them coming or even see them when they're right in front of you.

Toward the end of "The Matrix Resurrections," the Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris) reveals that a mechanic who works in Trinity's garage has been an Agent hiding in plain sight all along. Moreover, Trinity's husband, "Handsome Chad," played by Reeves' four-time "John Wick" director, Chad Stahelski, is an Agent who quickly turns on her after she refuses to go back to her blue-pill life as a mom named Tiffany.

In "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions," Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) had the ability to replicate himself like a virus, taking possession of people and turning them into clones of himself. "The Matrix Resurrections" sees Jonathan Groff assuming the role of Smith, who regards himself as "even more perfect," having retired his sunglasses in favor of a fresh young face, more casual clothes, and a more casual demeanor. Now, he calls Neo "Tom" instead of "Mr. Anderson."

The movie puts a new twist on Smith's old cloning trick by introducing the concept of "swarm mode," whereby the Analyst or Smith can activate a swarm of Agents within a crowd of people, sending them after Neo and Trinity. They can even turn people into human dive bombers, making them drop out of windows onto the street as Neo and Trinity are speeding by on their motorcycle.

Next time you're out on the street — or in the Matrix — watch for falling pianos and falling Agents, as well as people with weird, computer-like eyes.

"The Matrix Resurrections" is playing in theaters and streaming on HBO Max now.