One of the more unexpected sequel announcements of recent years was the news of a fourth entry in the Matrix franchise. The first movie, released in 1999, was and remains a fairly entertaining combination of dorm-room-level philosophizing, cool-looking special effects, and well-choreographed action. There are some entertaining moments in the two sequels that followed, but . . . for the most part, they weren’t great. And, more relevant for sequel purposes, they seemed to end the story of The Matrix: Neo (Keanu Reeves) had ‘died’ defeating the rogue program that had taken over the fake world of the Matrix, and the machines trapping humans in that fake world while trying to kill them in the real one had relented.
But . . .
Anyone who had the misfortune of making it through the end of The Matrix Revolutions knows that Neo’s ultimate fate had been left slightly ambiguous. And that ambiguity apparently left enough room for a sequel, The Matrix Resurrections, to be released in December of this year. A trailer for it just came out:
The choice of “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplaine as backing music for this is perhaps the most inevitable accompaniment in trailer history, given the Matrix movies’ obsession with pills and distorted reality and whatnot. Beyond that, though, what we seem to have is a classic ‘reset’ scenario, often used by sequels released long after the movie that preceded them. That is, to justify their existence, such movies must somewhat undo the resolution achieved by a prior entry (or series) and resubmit beloved characters into familiar travails. If this trailer is any guide (which it may not be), Reeves’s Neo, now going by his original name of Thomas Anderson once again, is still alive (or alive again?) but has forgotten who he is (or was?), thanks to a steady diet of reality-suppressing blue pills (as opposed to the reality-uncovering red). Amusingly, one scene appears to show peoples’ obsession with digital devices keeping them unaware of the fact that reality itself is digital. The Matrix Resurrections is likely to show Anderson becoming Neo (again). “After all these years, to be going back to where it all started . . . back to the Matrix!” as one character in the trailer metafictionally asserts.
Whether this movie is more than just a rehash or a nostalgia trip (Reeves is not the only actor from the original trilogy to return; he’s not even the only actor performing a character thought killed to be returning), and whether it actually proves novel and good enough to be worth doing remain to be seen.