18 years after the release of The Matrix Revolutions and it’s back down the rabbit hole for fans of the Wachowski sisters’ groundbreaking science fiction trilogy — a franchise that went on to define the shape of action cinema in the 21st century. Clad in black leather with small, dark spectacles, the punk aesthetic of The Matrix and its two sequels would become iconic, and the likes of Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving, launched into industry prominence from which they will likely never climb down.
The four-time Oscar-winning film released in 1999 would make history with its revolutionary special effects, utilising a technique they donned ‘bullet-time’, which involved multiple cameras and the adoption of a unique slow-motion effect. ‘Bullet-time’ became a technique synonymous with the series itself as it was used again for both sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.
Now, after 18 years, and a total lack of Matrix content, the team behind the original film are back for The Matrix Resurrections, a sequel and semi-reboot of the trilogy, starring Keanu Reeves, Carrie Anne-Moss and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II.
With fans eager to discover the truth behind this brand new universe and find out how it ties into the previous trilogy, we’ve done the legwork and put together ten things you need to know about The Matrix Resurrections before you step through the pearly gates of your local cinema.
10 things you need to know before watching The Matrix Resurrections
A brand new Matrix
The technological faux-world of the Matrix may be back, but it may not return exactly how we’d left it in The Matrix Revolutions, in keeping with the Oracles final line in the film in which she says, the current version of the Matrix will survive for “as long as it can”.
This, along with several other key clues, suggests that the brand new version of the Matrix is entirely different from the one we’ve seen before. Neo (Keanu Reeves) sacrificed himself at the end of the original trilogy for the benefit of the rest of the human race, though we’re not entirely sure what the new world that he sacrificed himself for looks like. The new version of the world certainly looks a little shinier and more technologically advanced.
A new verdict on modern culture
With a new technologically advanced version of the Matrix than we’ve seen before, The Matrix Resurrections may look to comment on the revolution of handheld media that has occurred since the release of the original film in 1999.
Several shots in the latest trailer for the film allude to this reality, with many citizens of the Matrix fixed to the screens of their mobile devices. This would fit in very nicely with the carefully laced subtexts of the original films that aimed their targets at capitalism and overpowering corporations. With the innovations in technology since the release of the trilogy, this would be a fascinating route for the films to go down.
A new cast of characters (and some old faces too)
The original Matrix trilogy was pretty eclectic in its range of characters, embracing all nationalities, identities and styles in its diverse illustration of a revolutionary human race.
Whilst the likes of Neo and Trinity (Carrie Anne-Moss) are back in action, they are joined by a new iteration of Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) as well as a whole host of new faces including, Sati (Priyanka Chopra Jonas), Lexy (Eréndira Ibarra) and Bugs (Jessica Henwick). Let’s hope the brand new characters assimilate themselves into the world as easily as our original heroes did.
Neo is back, but in disguise
Surprisingly, despite sacrificing himself for the benefit of the rest of humanity in The Matrix Revolutions, Neo is inextricably alive in the latest film and presumably ready to kick some digital ass on his way to further salvation.
When Neo looks into a mirror in a brand new trailer for the film, the man who looks back at him isn’t Neo at all, suggesting that the latest iteration of humanity’s saviour could be on the run, but why? We also see Neo living a new, normal life in the movie, alluding to the potential of a brand new Matrix where he is once again addressed as Thomas Anderson. Neo’s not the only one with a new identity either.
Morpheus is back (but not as you know him)
An icon of the original Matrix film, Morpheus, played by Laurence Fishburne, joined Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie Anne-Moss) as the leading trio of the trilogy, leading the revolutionaries to victory over the machines.
Though, whilst Reeves and Moss return as Neo and Trinity, Fishburne has been omitted from the cast, with Morpheus instead being recast. Now played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, it seems as though the new iteration we’ll be getting in The Matrix Resurrections will exist in an entirely new reality to that of Fishburne’s character. Though Morpheus does not die in the original trilogy of films, he is killed off in the video game The Matrix Online, released in 2005, which bizarrely is considered canon.
Lana is back without Lily
The sisters who brought the original Matrix trilogy to life are ‘doing a Coen brothers’, splitting up for the very first time, with The Matrix Resurrections being directed by just Lana Wachowski.
Speaking on the programme, Work in Progress, Lilly Wachowski commented on turning the film down, stating, “[Lana] had come up with this idea for another Matrix movie, and we had this talk, and it was actually – we started talking about it in between [our] dad dying and [our] mom dying, which was like five weeks apart”.
Continuing, she noted, “And there was something about the idea of going backward and being a part of something that I had done before that was expressly unappealing”.
A brand new style
With Lana helming the fourth instalment of the series on her own, you can expect the latest film to take a slightly different tone stylistically, shifting away from the steampunk of the original series to depict an all-new world.
In conversation with The Hollywood Reporter, Neil Patrick Harris told the magazine that the new film possesses a brand new style that differs from the previous films. As Harris told the publication, “I think [Lana Wachowski] has a great inclusive energy and her style has shifted visually from what she had done to what she is currently doing”. Expect more of the same high-flying action with a slight shift in artistic expression.
More of the same
Though we hope this is indeed a brand new, innovative addition to the franchise, it looks as though plenty of iconography from the original trilogy has been carried over the fourth film.
From the brand new trailers for the film, we have already seen a return of the iconic red and blue pills that allowed Neo to leave the Matrix, as well as the looking glass which took our protagonist on a physical and psychological rebirth. To bring the franchise to a new generation of viewers, many of these callbacks are necessary but let’s just hope they’re not overused by Lana Wachowski.
The Matrix Resurrections is a sequel, not a prequel
Though from the outside it may look to be a prequel, especially with the fact that Morpheus is a younger version of his old self, The Matrix Resurrections is crucially a sequel of the original trilogy.
This detail was, once again, gathered from the new trailer in which we see Neo with his eyes branded shut after the events of The Matrix Revolutions that saw a possessed Bane (Ian Bliss) scold Neo’s eyes with a red-hot poker. With the sight of this incapacitated Neo in the trailer, we can gather that the film is indeed a sequel.
If there’s one thing you need to know before you see The Matrix Resurrections, it’s when the film itself comes out, to avoid the total disappointment of rocking up to the cinema only to see you’ve booked tickets for Clifford the Big Red Dog.
The Matrix Resurrections is released in the US, UK and Canada on December 22nd, 2021, with many other parts of Europe, including Spain and France also receiving the film on the same day. Meanwhile, the fourth Matrix film will hit New Zealand on December 26th, before finally being released in Italy on January 1st, 2022.