A woman is cornered by police in an abandoned hotel; after overpowering them with superhuman abilities, a group of sinister superhuman grey green-suited Agents leads the police in a rooftop pursuit. She answers a ringing public telephone and vanishes.
Computer programmer Thomas Anderson, living a double life as the hacker “Neo”, feels something is wrong with the world and is puzzled by repeated online encounters with the cryptic phrase “the Matrix”. The woman, Trinity, contacts him, saying that a man named Morpheus can explain its meaning; however, the Agents, led by Agent Smith, apprehend Neo and attempt to threaten him into helping them capture the “terrorist” Morpheus. Undeterred, Neo meets Morpheus, who offers him a choice between a red pill that will show him the truth about the Matrix, and a blue pill that will return him to his former life. After swallowing the red pill, his reality disintegrates and Neo awakens, naked, weak and hairless, in a liquid-filled pod, one of countless others connected by cables to an elaborate electrical system. He is rescued and brought aboard Morpheus’ hovercraft, the Nebuchadnezzar.
As Neo recuperates, Morpheus explains the truth: in the 21st century, intelligent machines waged war against their human creators. When humans blocked the machines’ access to solar energy, the machines retaliated by harvesting the humans’ bioelectric power. The Matrix is a shared simulation of the world, in which the minds of the harvested humans are trapped and pacified. All free humans live in Zion, the last refuge in the real world. Morpheus and his crew are a group of rebels who hack into the Matrix to “unplug” enslaved humans and recruit them; their understanding of the simulated reality enables them to bend its physical laws, granting them superhuman abilities. Morpheus warns Neo that death within the Matrix also kills the physical body, and that the Agents are powerful sentient programs that eliminate threats to the system. Neo’s prowess during virtual combat training lends credence to Morpheus’ belief that Neo is “the One”, an especially powerful human prophesied to free humans and end the war.