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Six Degrees of Neo

My mom and I used to play a game called “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon”, a popular game at parties and on road trips. The gist is you pick two actors or filmmakers at random and see how long it takes you to connect them to one another. I taught this game to my husband, and it has evolved into connecting movie universes though the roles an actor plays. Sometimes they get pretty wild. But none as wild and mind blowing as the theory my husband just presented to me of the incarnations of Neo.

Let’s begin.


Constantine: #1

In the first genesis, Neo comes in the form of Constantine. Here, Constantine is fully cognizant of everything about the Matrix, er… world. He knows that there is a physical world and one of spirit, or dreams. He knows that Angels and Demons (Agents/Programs) recognize him on sight, approaching him with either fear or admiration. And in the body of Constantine, Neo is able to command both the real world and the “spirit” world. Did I mention he has a lovely lady Angela Dodson, an LAPD officer who can also see Angels and Demons (Agents/Programs). In the grand finale, in true Neo fashion, he sacrifices himself in order to save both the girl and the world. Because of his sacrifice, the creator/Architect grants him a second chance, much to the everlasting frustration of the Devil/Agent Smith who is about to drag his ass back into the Matrix/Hell.

The Devil’s Advocate: #2

When direct contact with the agents and programs doesn’t go well, the Architect recognizes he needs a more subtle approach, particularly with how agents and programs appear to humans. So he gives them forms that make sense to humans, like evil corporate despot. The Architect designs Neo as a power hungry lawyer who would be dedicated to serving the matrix. Enter Kevin Lomax the high-stakes attorney who likes to win and introduce him to a program, in the form of Al Pacino. The program manipulates him into making choices that don’t actually benefit Kevin/Neo or his family. Think of the way the Merovingian manipulates everyone, but in particularly Neo and Trinity. The Devil/Program takes Neo/Kevin to town, including using his love to manipulate his choices. After confronting the Devil/Program… Neo wakes up from a dream. Was any of it real?

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure: #3

My guess is by now the machines are getting frustrated. They’ve lost whole crops by giving humans exactly what they want in two separate Garden of Eden scenarios, and the chosen one keeps escaping their plans. Perhaps their mistake was letting the population be aware of good and evil, or at least the chosen one.

Complete disaster.

This time the Architect goes for a version ten years before the discovery of AI rather than a utopian or authoritarian society. And I’m sure I’ll make some fans mad because nowhere in the Matrix does it discuss time travel. However, there are multiple versions of the Matrix making time irrelevant to the population.

So think about it. In the Matrix, how do we get in and out of the matrix? A phone. In particular, a land line, typically in the form of a phone booth. What do Bill and Ted use to travel between past and present? A friggin phone booth! Meanwhile they pick up strange travelers (programs) and the Three Most Important People in the World (the Architect, the Oracle, the Key Maker) along the way. Of course Bill & Ted keep messing up the system by sheer dumb luck and “excellent” aptitude for being in the right place at the right time.

Johnny Mnemonic: #4

Holy criminy, the machines have had it. Enough messing around with letting these people make choices for themselves. Let’s just TELL them they don’t get a choice. In fact, we’re going a step further by implanting computers into their brains. Thus the basis for Johnny Mnemonic, where he has a cybernetic implant designed to store sensitive information. What? Sounds an awful lot like the computer-generated la-la-land to me.

This is the first time the Architect takes on a human form in the body of Takahashi. He is ever present, all knowing and desperate to make sure no one else has access to the information locked inside Johnny’s head. He escapes with the help of Jane, a cybernetically-enhanced bodyguard… Hello, Trinity. She takes him to her friend Spider, a doctor who possesses the knowledge to help Johnny extract the data from his computer implanted mind. Wait, could that be the Oracle? J-Bone, the other associate of Jane, has the same ultimate message for Johnny- that only he can hack/free himself. A hacker who teaches Johnny how to free his mind… Where have I heard that before?

John Wick: Version #5

The rules in the world of John Wick are so steadfast that might as well be a computer-generated program. No particular person/program can make a choice that breaks those rules. So no matter what he does, John/Neo must follow the rules.

The rules are laid out by the High-Table, which makes a lot more sense if you’ve seen John Wick: Chapter 2. *duh, spoilers* They work together as this governing entity, deciding the rules for each region within the world they rule. Rules. Structure. Management. That sounds like an Architect to me. While John/Neo isn’t currently participating in the world created by the High-Table, he is still a part of it because no one leaves the Matrix. It takes one snot-nosed prat named Iosef (white rabbit) to call John/Neo back into the world making even the most powerful programs in the system say “oh…” John is lovingly referred to as babyaga, the boogeyman. I imagine programs and agents alike would fear this ass-kicking rule abider, not to mention they would have a rad name for the One like “the boogeyman.”

Throughout both Chapter One and Chapter Two, John is very bound by the rules and the choices they present. He can seek revenge on the Russians or let it go. He can go to work for Santino or suffer the consequences. Rules, rules, and more rules. John follows them, even the laws of physics and counting that say no, there are not a zillion bullets in this clip so I need to get creative. By the end of Chapter Two John makes the choice to breaks the rules of Continental much to the heartbreak of the Oracle/Winston. By the end of Chapter 2, we realize that all of the program/assassins hold John Wick in reverence, but the rules require his death, because he broke the rules. We’ll see just how thoroughly he dismantles their rule bound system in chapter 3.

The Matrix: #6 because everything that has a beginning must have an end

The last Genesis of Neo. This is the first time that the Architect got it right. Neo does not have a lot of faith in himself and is incredibly susceptible to injury.

In the final installment of the Matrix trilogy, we learn that Neo is the 6th version of himself, and the one who got to where he is the fastest. That means that there are 5 other versions of Neo at different times, but we are never given any idea of who or what they might have looked like. What we do know is that the machines don’t like change, so when they make changes, they are incredibly subtle. So it’s safe to assume that Neo wouldn’t change physically that much from version to version, just the world around him.

* * *

Keanu Reeves has so many other roles that could be interchanged for just about any of these geneses of Neo. My husband and I debated for a good long while on Point Break and weather Bohdi was Morpheus or Agent Smith. Speed, Babes in Toyland, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and The Lake House could also be fun to explore. My point is this: have fun and let me know what sort of fan theories you have.

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