Throughout the history of the Matrix franchise, we have seen Neo do amazing things. As one of the most powerful characters in the series, he has been shown to do things and feats that no other character was able to do – flying being one of them. But why can Neo fly and other characters in the movies can’t?
Nao is able to fly because he has, within him, the Prime Program, which gives him the ability to freely manipulate the simulated reality of the Matrix. This manifests itself through various superhuman powers, among which is flight. Other characters don’t have access to the Prime Program and, thus, cannot manipulate the reality of the Matrix.
In the continuation of this article, we are going to elaborate further on this answer, giving you more background and in-universe information about Neo’s ability to fly. You’re going to find out more about his other powers and abilities as well, all in order to fully comprehend why Neo is so special within the franchise.
Why Is Neo the Only One That Can Fly?
Neo has carried the source code of the Matrix, known as the Prime Program, with him since his creation. This eventually gave him the ability to freely manipulate the simulated reality of the Matrix, similar to the authority a system administrator has over any system under his control. He manifests these abilities as various superhuman powers throughout the franchise.
The power Neo most often displays is telekinesis, as he seems to be able to manipulate any object in the Matrix through his will alone, as was most famously demonstrated when he stopped a barrage of bullets. When he focuses this ability on himself, he can fly at amazing speeds and jump great distances.
While his speed is never specified, he can fly from Merovingian’s mountain palace to the highway “500 miles south” in no time. (Well, it was about 13 minutes, but in a symbolic way – it’s really no time at all.)
His high-speed flight is further emphasized by his ability to escape explosions. The sonic boom he leaves behind has the power to knock down two rows of heavy vehicles and debris.
When he captured Trinity, his sonic boom nearly destroyed an entire city block. He has used this ability several times to stop several bullets mid-flight, first against the agents and then again against Merovingian’s minions.
How Fast Does Neo Fly?
While the exact information was never revealed in the movies, we have enough information to calculate Neo’s exact speed. Namely, when Neo calls Link he informs him that Morpheus and Trinity (and the Keymaker) are located “500 miles, due south.” It takes Neo about 13 minutes to get to them. This means that we can easily calculate the speed of Neo’s flight:
13 minutes / 60 = 0.2167 hours (this number is needed for the final calculation)
Now, knowing that speed = distance / time, we get:
500 miles / 0.2167 hrs = 2,307mph
Knowing that the speed of sound is ~761mph, we can also conclude that Neo is able to move at a speed that is 3.031 times the speed of sound, which is simply amazing.
Why Can’t Neo Fly in The Matrix Resurrections?
After his resurrection and rediscovery of his true nature in The Matrix Resurrections movie, Neo’s powers have slowly returned to him over time, though he was initially unable to use them all. For example, he could not fly when he tried, which was a direct consequence of the brainwashing he was exposed to and his “death” in The Matrix Revolutions.
However, he was even then able to send out powerful telekinetic shockwaves with a simple flick of his wrist. He could also still stop bullets, but his telekinesis seemed to be weaker, as Neo had to exert more effort than before.
When Neo and Trinity confront the Analyst again, Neo’s powers seem to have fully returned, including his ability to fly on his own, as he is seen flying across the sky alongside Trinity.
Why Can’t Agent Smith and the Others Fly?
Knowing the answer to the first question, it is quite easy to deduce why the others, including Agent Smith, cannot fly – they don’t have access to the Prime Program.
That seems to be the prerequisite to manipulating the reality of the Matrix and since Neo is the only one with direct access to that code, he is the only one who can manipulate it to such an extent that he can actually fly.
What Are Neo’s Other Powers?
Now that we have further elaborated on the main question, let us see what else Neo can do thanks to the Prime Program. In addition to everything we have said above, Neo has superhuman strength and agility and is invulnerable to most forms of attack. His reflexes are great enough to dodge bullets.
Although he was able to deflect a sword with the edge of his hand, he suffered a minor cut, indicating (as The Merovingian noted) that he is still human despite his powers.
His stamina is also limited: When confronted by a large number of Smith clones, Neo was forced to flee rather than continue fighting, and when he left the Matrix he looked visibly tired.
He can also walk through walls. This ability was first shown in The Matrix when he entered Agent Smith’s body and deleted him, and a Sentinel passed through his body in Machine City in The Matrix Revolutions.
Neo was also able to revive the recently deceased Trinity by gently applying pressure to the heart, making it functional again. However, the extent and limits of his revival abilities in the Matrix are unknown.
A less-emphasized application of Neo’s ability is his heightened awareness of the simulated nature of the Matrix, allowing him to easily detect Agents, Exiles, and other anomalous phenomena (such as the presence of explosives). He is even capable of a limited form of precognition. The Oracle has described this as “seeing the world without time”.
In addition, Neo (like the majority of redpills) utilizes the Resistance’s combat programs, which give him combat skills equivalent to those of a martial artist with decades of experience. Neo is capable of executing an unprecedented number of these programs simultaneously.
He is, therefore, a master of all known martial arts and fighting styles, including Kung Fu and Kempo, Jujitsu, Karate, Eskrima, Drunken Boxing, and Taekwondo (the Nebuchadnezzar’s ship operator, Tank, uploads each of these martial arts programs into Neo’s brain during his training in the first movie).
During the fight against the Merovingian Exiles, the resurrected Neo discovers that he still has these implanted martial arts skills, commenting during the fight, “I still know Kung Fu.”
In the real world, Neo has none of the aforementioned skills, which makes complete sense. Neo is wirelessly connected to the Matrix system to some degree: He eventually learns to sense the presence of the machines and even interfere with their functioning. This ability initially overwhelms him after he incapacitates a squad of guards, causing him to collapse and be sent to limbo without the equipment normally used by the resistance.
The Oracle says, “The power of the Chosen One extends beyond the Matrix. It reaches back from here to where it came from”. Apparently, due to his status as The One, he has a direct connection to The Source and can therefore influence everything connected to it.
After being blinded in the battle against Smith/Bane, Neo begins to perceive everything connected to The Source, including Machine City itself, as silhouettes of golden light.