Early in The Matrix, Neo learns that his life as he knows it has been an illusion, a computer-generated world beyond anything even his own computer-hacker sensibilities can comprehend. He gets over his shock swiftly and undertakes the task of liberating others from the virtual fate that’s been forced on them. Neo’s path to enlightenment is quick and smooth. He is sought out by those who already understand the truth and given the choice to learn the truth or return to a life of falsity. He chooses the red pill—the choice that opens his eyes and changes his direction from lazy hacker to hero of the universe. Neo never shows much emotion, and we get a sense of his growing self-confidence mainly by watching his increasingly shocking and skillful fighting moves.

As he embraces his role, Neo becomes a Christ figure in the trilogy. Morpheus, the Oracle, and other characters in the Matrix trilogy call Neo “the One,” and they are certain he is the man who will liberate and save them. Several parallels exist between Neo and Christ. Neo is resurrected from the dead at the end of The Matrix, a feat that cements his role as savior of the human race. Christ was both earthly and godly, and Neo, once he fully understands who he is, can see the Matrix’s code covering everything around him, which demonstrates his own ability to transcend the division between realms. Even Neo’s Matrix name, Thomas Anderson, suggests a parallel with Christ. “Anderson” literally means “son of man,” a phrase used to describe Christ in the Gospels. “Thomas” suggests the New Testament figure of the disciple Thomas who won’t believe in Christ’s resurrection until he sees proof with his own eyes. Neo makes this same connection between believing and seeing, and he doubts himself and his abilities until he begins to actually accumulate experience. Neo is not meant to actually represent Christ, but these suggested connections elevate his status in the films and underscore the important role he plays in the battle to save the human race.