# A minor error in The Matrix: Reloaded (a few spoilers)

Yes, there will be a few spoilers. You’ve been warned, so I’m not using the black boxes.

In the scene near the end (which is foreshadowed at the beginning in Neo’s dream) when Trinity jumps backwards out of a glass window, and then the agent jumps after her, both shooting at each other, I think the law of gravity is shown incorrectly. Their horizontal momentum should have no effect on their vertical momentum (just as a bullet shot off a cliff and a bullet dropped off a cliff should hit the ground at the same time) so to simplify the problem assume that they both start at speed 0. Trinity jumps out the window and accelerates at 32 ft/sec[sup]2[/sup]. Some time later (it’s hard to tell how much later with all the slow-motion shots) the agent jumps out the window. Let’s say it’s one second later. At that moment, his speed is 0 ft/sec and hers is 32 ft/sec. Now, both of them are in free fall, so they’re both accelerating at the same rate (32 ft/sec[sup]2[/sup]) which means that the distance between them should be increasing. In fact, the recoil from their guns should increase the distance even more. But it seemed like the distance between them remained constant, which I believe to be a mistake.

I can think of a few ways to solve this problem.

[list=1]
[li]I was simply mistaken. This seems most likely, since I only saw it once, and the shots were pretty close up.[/li][li]The agent temporarily changed the laws of physics, because his goal was to shoot and kill Trinity, which would be easier if he fell faster than normal. I’m not sure whether an agent can do something like this.[/li][li]Both of them reached terminal velocity. I doubt this, because they fell a relatively short distance. I think you’d have to fall from much higher to reach terminal velocity, but I really don’t know.[/li][li]This was actually a mistake in the movie. It’s a slip-up that they didn’t catch.[/li][/list=1]

What do you think?

“It’s the Matrix!” is very much the same as “It’s the Force!” answer for the Star Wars films.

I doubt this would be correct. One of the premises of the films is that the agents must abide by the ‘rules’ of the program that govern the world. They can move fast and so on but not beyond the bound of physics…the agents are ultimately bound by the rules of the program. Humans on the other hand should be able to rise above these artificial rules which is what Neo eventually achieves (he can effectively manipulate the physics of the Matrix universe himself which far surpasses what the agents can manage).

Frankly I’d say this is just a movie thing that 99.9% of the public wouldn’t pick up on so they don’t care. I’d be surprised if they thought of it themselves…probably never occurred to them and if it did it just didn’t work with the script so they ignored it.

As for the time it takes to reach terminal velocity it sin’t as much as you might think. Roughly 5-6 seconds (dependant upon many variables and assuming a 120 MPH terminal speed). You will travel around 500 feet in that time so jumping out of a sufficiently large building will see you reach this speed.

Have you ever seen an action movie where they did get the kinematics right?

Seriously, I don’t know how you could tell the distance between Trinity and the Agent with any sort of accuracy, but assuming you could, you’ll have to take something else into account. The Agent is probably a bit more dense than Trinity is. Plus he’s diving while she’s kind of spread out. This would mean that she would have a greater upward acceleration due to air resistance (and a lower terminal velocity), so this would reduce the effect of separating them.

[nitpick]
Density has nothing to do with it. Everything falls at the same rate. Granted in air things that are more dense fall faster than things that are less dense (e.g. a rock vs. a feather) but I doubt the difference between Trinity and the Agent is that great.

Spread out vs. diving counts more though but still…likely just the movies not caring enough about physics vs. visuals.

Air resistance is exactly what I was talking about, although density is not exactly the right word. If Trinity is 50 kg and has a frontal area of 1 m[sup]2[/sup], while the Agent is 100 kg and has a frontal area of 0.5 m[sup]2[/sup], he’ll experience four times as much upward acceleration as she will.

Geez, I thought you’d talk about the bullet holes already being in the back of the semi before Trinity veered around it…

Well, the whole scene is in slow motion. Keep that in mind, so it’s probably only a few seconds of falling. Not enough to make a noticable difference in the distance. (as a guesstimate, I’m not doing the math now…)

Well, hell. Any slowdown in time in which you can track bullets, you’d never see a human move an inch. Even with a very high rate of fire machine gun, the bullets are NOT close to each other.

This is movie math. It’s just like when someone races off in a car as fast as they can, and someone gets in their car to follow two minutes later. The very next shot, you see the racing cars bumping into each other. Feh.

More importantly, the scene where Trinity and the Keymaster drive a motorcycle off of a truck is a slap in the face to relativity. The bike would have to accelerate to a speed faster than the truck on which it was being transported in order for the pair to zoom away as they did. They might’ve been going about 20 mph when they reached the front edge of the truck. In real life, once they hit the ground, the truck would’ve run them over unless they had the bike up to a speed faster than the truck. You don’t just magically start going fast just because… oh wait, it’s the Matrix.