|“||And tell me, Mr. Anderson, what good is a phone call if you're unable to speak?||„|
|~ Agent Smith's most famous line|
|“||I should thank you, Mr. Anderson, for it was you who taught me the true purpose of life: the purpose of life is to end.||„|
|~ Smith's second most famous line|
Agent Smith is the main antagonist of The Matrix trilogy.
Smith began as an Agent, an AI program in the Matrix programmed to keep order within the system by terminating troublesome programs and human avatars which would otherwise bring instability to the simulated reality. To this end, Smith possesses the ability to take control over the simulated body of any human wired into the Matrix. As an Agent, Smith is able to bend the rules of the Matrix (such as gravity and the limitations of the human body), giving him speed and strength beyond ordinary human capability.
He and other Agents can dodge bullets flawlessly, punch through concrete with their bare hands, and jump impossible distances. Agents also have the ability to communicate with each other instantaneously and perceive what other humans wired into the Matrix do, represented via their earpieces (when Agent Smith removes his earpiece during the first film, he is left unaware of the attack on his building). Smith's weapon of choice in the first film, as is standard with all Agents within the Matrix, is the Desert Eagle, chambered with the high-caliber .50 AE ammunition.
At the end of the first Matrix film, Smith is supposedly destroyed by Neo after a destructive battle; however, in the sequels, Smith is revealed to have been "freed" from the Machines' control, making him a renegade program. Along with his freedom, Smith gains the ability to copy himself onto others within the Matrix, rather than simply having the ability to switch between bodies, effectively making him a self-replicating computer virus. Smith also implies when threatened by Morpheus that by that point, he had self-replicated into enough bodies that, if he retained his superhuman speed, he no longer needed to use it to dodge any bullets fired from a gun ("Go ahead, shoot. The best thing about being me. There's so many of me.").
Unlike his Agent form, he can also invade the real-life bodies of people in the process of disconnecting from the Matrix by making use of the in-Matrix landlines, allowing Smith to live in the outside world. This is seen when Smith takes over Bane's body in The Matrix Reloaded. Smith's real power comes from his abilities to absorb memories and power from his victims, culminating in his form that fights Neo in the final battle of the Matrix series. Smith goes so far as to copy himself into the Oracle and he even tries to control Morpheus, and Neo himself.
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. They dress in dark green business suits lined with a gold fabric, white dress shirts, dark green neckties, and black dress shoes. Agents wear dark sunglasses with corners or smooth angles. The Agents show 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 common Anglo-Saxon names like Brown, Jones, and Thompson. It was mentioned in the Philosopher Commentary on the DVD collection that the names of Smith, Brown, and Jones 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 Isiah 54:16 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."
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.
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. The third represents the only point when he is actually addressing Neo as such, while the first is merely acknowledging it as an alias and the second is likely a matter of convenience (the guard would be unlikely to know Neo by any other name).
In the first film, Smith is one of the three Agents sent to deal with Morpheus. After Neo is successfully removed from the Matrix, Smith arranges Morpheus' capture by bribing Cypher, a disillusioned member of Morpheus' crew with being reintegrated into The Matrix. When Neo manages to free Morpheus, Smith and his fellow Agents engage in a lengthy cross-town chase. He and Neo fight, with Smith dominating most of the fight. Shortly after Neo escapes the fight, Smith guns him down. Neo revives, realizes his power as the One, and enters Smith, to destroy him from within.
The Matrix Reloaded
As a result of his contact with Neo, Smith is "unplugged"; no longer an Agent of the system but a "free man". This is signified by the lack of an earpiece, which he gives to Neo as a message early in the film. 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).
He still possesses the abilities of an Agent, but instead of being able to jump from one human to another, he is able to copy himself over any human or program in the Matrix through direct contact; this includes humans wired into the Matrix, non-Agent programs with human forms, redpills, and humans already possessed by Agents. Smith retains the memories and abilities, if any, of the one over which he copies himself. This ability is much like how a virus replicates, creating an ironic contrast with the first film, where Smith likens humanity to a virus.
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. He tries to copy his programming onto Neo, but when this fails, he and several of his clones attack him, forcing Neo to flee. Later, he and his clones try to stop Neo from reaching the machine mainframe, but this too fails.
The Matrix Revolutions
By the start of the third film, Smith has managed to copy himself over nearly every humanoid in the Matrix, giving him complete control over 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 Smith is Neo's negative, a result of The Matrix equation trying to balance itself. Also, she reveals that if he is not stopped, Smith will destroy everything. For this reason, the only way Smith can be eliminated, is for the equation to be "unbalanced". The Oracle herself is eventually taken over by Smith, granting him her power of foresight, or omniscience, as well as reality-bending powers equivalent to those possessed by Neo.
Near the end of the film, Neo engages in battle with Smith on the Machines' behalf in exchange for Zion's safety. The Smith created from the Oracle battles Neo alone; as he explains, he has foreseen his victory, and has no need for the help of his copies. The two are almost evenly matched, though Neo's combat abilities seem arguably superior to that of Smith, the latter who seems to attack more out of brute force, rather than the technical skill he displayed in the first film. In the midst of this battle, Smith explains to Neo his final nihilistic revelation: "It was your life that taught me the purpose of all life. The purpose of life is to end."
When Neo is near defeat, Smith demands to know why Neo continues to fight, knowing he cannot win. Neo responds, "Because I choose to" and is beaten unconscious by the enraged Smith as a result. Suddenly recognizing the scene from his prophecy, Smith is compelled to deliver the line he said in it: "I say... Everything that has a beginning has an end, Neo". This is the only point in the movie where Smith does not address him as "Mr. Anderson".
Confused by his own behavior, Smith suddenly becomes frightened by the effect Neo has on his words- then, on the effect his words have on Neo. At this point it is not known whether Neo's attrition contributes to his collapse, or it is part of his plot to sabotage Smith's attempt to infect all of the Matrix. In any case, unable to overpower Smith, Neo seems to concede to Agent Smith that he can never win, and thus submits to defeat. Neo's successfully 'sells' his 'defeat' to Smith. Smith, unaware of Neo's subterfuge, absorbs him, and for a moment, believes himself to be the victor; however, after copying himself onto Neo, Smith and his clones explode in a simultaneous flash of white light.
In the alternative ending of The Matrix Revolutions 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 nose bar, but when the MegaSmith actually puts them on, they become the ones Agent Smith wears in The Matrix Reloaded and in Revolutions.
After the fight — consisting of Neo dodging blows and building up power to launch more powerful assaults at MegaSmith, damaging one arm and creating a large hole in his chest —, Neo flies straight into MegaSmith's mouth, causing the Smiths throughout the Matrix to overload and explode. The player is then shown a short scene from The Matrix: Revolutions of the streets shining with light emanating 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 programming) managed to return and made several appearances inside the movie's official continuation, the MMORPG The Matrix Online.
The first infection was noted in Machine mission controller Agent Gray, whose background information confirms that he was overwritten by Smith at some point during the timeline of the second and third films. 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.
Machine liaison officer DifferenceEngine, following a similar scenario to that of the previous Agent Gray infection, also took on the dialect and emotional characteristics of the famous exile agent. Instead of attacking redpills, this instance insisted 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 proceeded to lock down his RSI and return his program to the Source for analysis. His subsequent fate is unknown.
The third victim of infection 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 infected were eventually cleansed and returned to their bluepill lives. Shane Black's troubles continued, as he was one of the bluepills recorded to have first witnessed Unlimited redpills practising their newfound 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 that he had obtained a new and more dangerous form. The nature of this form was never revealed.
While other agents rarely act without consulting each other via their earpieces - they are, in fact, so in sync with each other they are sometimes known to finish each others' sentences - Smith is usually the one giving orders or using his earpiece to gather information for his own ends, signifying he is their leader, which is further proven because he is shown to have the authority to launch Sentinel attacks in the real world. As with other Agents, Smith generally approaches problems through a pragmatic point of view, but if necessary will also act with brute force and apparent rage.
The earpieces represent some form of control mechanism by the machines, or a deep connection. 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, which other agents may disagree with, and so he would want to keep this secret. Ironically, removing his earpiece also led to him missing critical information about Neo and Trinity infiltrating the building.
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 mortal and vulnerable flesh. He compares humanity to a virus, a disease organism that would replicate uncontrollably and eventually destroy their environment if not for the machine intelligences keeping them in check. Ironically, Smith eventually becomes a literal "computer virus", multiplying until he has overrun the entire Matrix.
At the same time, Smith develops an animosity towards the Matrix itself, feeling that he is as much a prisoner of it as the humans he is tasked with controlling. He later develops an immense and increasingly open desire for the destruction of both mankind and machines.
While in his first appearance he was cold, analytical and serious after freeing himself from the machines Smith began to develop a sense of humour. In all of his "life" Smith has never truly felt pain and as such when he downloaded himself into Bane, he began to cut himself, proving that he was masochistic.
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.
He is also shown to be very nihilistic and fatalistic, even compared to the other characters of the series. This is best demonstrated in Reloaded and Revolutions, both when fighting Neo. In the former, he explicitly states that despite Neo effectively "freeing" Smith by making him a rogue agent in the events of the first film, they aren't truly free and implicitly compared the concept of purpose to a prison, and in the latter, he tells Neo that the purpose of life was "to end", and that Neo's life is what taught him this, and eventually enters a vicious rant against Neo when demanding to know why the latter is persisting in his fight, and dismisses the concepts of truth, justice, peace, and even love as being meaningless constructs via the Matrix (though he acknowledges that humanity is the only organism capable of feeling love, describing it as insipid) and even tells him that his attempting to keep fighting is simply pointless.