67

In The Matrix Reloaded the following dialogue happens between Trinity and Morpheus during a car chase:

Trinity: You always told me to stay off the freeway.

Morpheus: Yes, that's true.

Trinity: You said it was suicide.

Morpheus: Then let us hope that I was wrong.

What's Morpheus's reason to stay away from the freeway?

  • 52
    If you stand back and really think about freeways, they're full of strangers driving multi-ton hunks of metal at speeds that can easily kill themselves and several others in moments. They also have limited access, so you're effectively trapped between exits. To be as unsafe among a group of people standing around, you'd practically need to give them all guns. – Nick T Jul 26 '17 at 21:04
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    I always assumed it was a joke, to the audience, about freeway traffic in general. Without needing an in universe explanation. "Traffic was killer today!" – Byran Zaugg Jul 26 '17 at 22:48
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    You do realize that the quoted dialog precedes one of the most violent and expensive in-matrix scenes in the entire trilogy, right? That quote is a self-fulfilling prophecy. – user9311 Jul 27 '17 at 14:32
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    I'm surprised the events that transpire in the movie don't adequately answer the question of why the freeways are dangerous for humans who have been woken up. Also I think there's a hidden joke in there because the real-world freeways of Los Angeles have a well-deserved reputation for being terrible places one should always avoid. – Todd Wilcox Jul 27 '17 at 14:53
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    @ToddWilcox To underline your point as someone from LA, WELL DESERVED. – Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica Jul 27 '17 at 15:08
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Since agents can inhabit any "bluepill" person in the Matrix, the freeway poses a few issues. Yes, you can move quickly from one distant point to another, but that's of no benefit to Trinity, Morpheus, or any other awoken Matrix users. On the freeway you're locked into a narrow corridor with exits only every mile or more, and any car near you can become a weapon in the hands of an agent.

In the first film, we see that the preferred movement method of Morpheus, Trinity & friends is to keep their business relegated to places in the dense city, and when escaping agents, try to lose them in alleys or maze-like building interiors. Going up roofs or around corners, their goal is to put obstacles between them & the agents as quickly as possible, because all they need is a spare moment to find an exit while the agents are busy trying to find them again.

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    Your answer is logical and I cannot agree more. But isn't that even obvious to Trinity ? I mean I thought there is some story behind freeway and Morpheus. – Rahul Jul 27 '17 at 5:10
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    @Rahul: It might be obvious to Trinity, that isn't explicitly contradicted by the quote. You can read it as she wants to remind Morpheus that it's a bad idea. Add to it that she hasn't any experience herself, she might be wondering if Morpheus knows something she doesn't. – Chris Jul 27 '17 at 6:39
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    The movie uses visual cues to give you exactly that trapped feeling: high concrete walls, frequent wide overpasses that cover you in. They're effectively in a tunnel positively congested with enemies, potential enemies, and the normal obstacles of traffic. – Jason Jul 27 '17 at 14:43
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    @Harper When the movie came out they made a big deal of it (in the extras) about how they tried to make the freeway more intimidating than a normal freeway, yet there are many places where freeways are naturally like this, often large due to attempts to abate noise to nearby houses. – Michael Jul 27 '17 at 22:49
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    @Rahul It will be obvious to Trinity now. She's speaking in past tense for a reason. While the age cut-off for extraction from the Matrix is never specified, new recruits are presumably fairly young and will have received extensive training during which "Stay off the freeway" was likely drilled into them just like "Never fight an agent" and "Free your mind" would have been. – user15995 Jul 28 '17 at 10:40
28

I think that what @Ross said was the most accurate:

Yes, you can move quickly from one distant point to another, but that's of no benefit to Trinity, Morpheus, or any other awoken Matrix users. On the freeway you're locked into a narrow corridor with exits only every mile or more, and any car near you can become a weapon in the hands of an agent.

But I'd also like to add a few points of my own. In the first movie, hidey-holes and sewers are where they prefer to hang out. In a world where any earthly force can be turned against the "red pill-ers" without repercussion, a long, exposed stretch of road, driving vehicles that are several ton weapons in the wrong conditions, and are moving too quickly to maneuvre well, it's basically a death trap. Anything from shipping trucks to the armed forces can be leveed against them. In fact, we see two agents, when hand to hand and weapons combat fail, take over the shipping trucks and crash them into each other in order to kill the "red pill-ers." There are also no hard lines from which to escape the Matrix, which is the only proven way of "winning" against the Agents.

Combine all this, and it's easy to see where an exposed highway full of strangers is suicide.

  • “can only go one direction” – can-ned_food Jul 30 '17 at 8:09
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Well, its probably mostly to add to the drama of the movie, however we can also consider that the agents move a lot faster than the plugged-in humans, and would therefore have a lot quicker reaction times ("You moved like they do") And you tend to drive fast on a freeway. Secondly, its easy to get killed on a freeway, and the agents are not afraid to dies. Thirdly, its easy to get on a freeway, and block someone in, as it becomes a bit of a rat maze/trap.

11

The movie uses visual cues to give you the answer to your question: they're trapped by high concrete walls & frequent wide overpasses that cover you in. They're effectively in a tunnel positively congested with enemies, potential enemies, and the normal obstacles of traffic. The freeway wouldn't be suicide if they were on it covertly, but when you're being pursued in a world fully controlled by your pursuer, your only escape is exit (land-lines, not accessible in a car chase), solitude (the opposite of a congested freeway), or anonymity (which is already out the window).

Morpheus' advice to Trinity was to not think of escape in spacial terms, i.e. getting "away", because inside the Matrix there is no "away". We're instinctually geared to think in terms of outrunning predators, so if you're not careful, in the heat of the moment you could head onto the freeway thinking that pure speed is your ally. But it's not, it means nothing in the Matrix. The only advantage people have is unpredictability, to make a choice that can't be planned for and reach safety before they can cut you off. The freeway is the opposite of that.

5

It could be that you are farther from an "exit" (out of the matrix) when you are on the freeway. As I recall, all exits require land lines.

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    The motorways in the UK have hardwired emergency phones every mile. Is this not the case in North America? – Burgi Jul 27 '17 at 8:29
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    @Burgi A mile is quite a distance when being hunted by an agent. And it's a mile with absolutely no cover, and no way to hide. – Luaan Jul 27 '17 at 8:41
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    The furtherest you could be from an emergency phone is half a mile. I take your point about cover though. – Burgi Jul 27 '17 at 8:50
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    @DewiMorgan CalTrans is retiring them in all but the most critical locations, because they cost a lot to maintain, and everyone has cell phones and waving your arms will cause dozens of citizens to call 911 (112/999). Even where they are kept, they are solar powered and cellphone based, so, not even maintaining the hard-lines anymore. I'm sure this is Morpheus's fault somehow. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jul 28 '17 at 4:12
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    @Harper CalTrans is controlled by agents. So... – Michiel van der Blonk Jul 30 '17 at 21:58

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