The original Matrix trilogy climaxed with Keanu Reeves’s Neo sacrificing himself to save both the human and machine civilisations from the nefarious Smith (Hugo Weaving), after the latter threatened to take down both warring parties. That always struck me as a bit of a cop-out, particularly as it is heavily hinted that our hero will be back at some point in the distant future. Now he is and, in the first trailer for The Matrix Resurrections, it seems that when the Matrix was rebooted at the end of 2003’s middling third instalment, the Neo we once knew also seems to have been wiped from existence.
In his place is a beardy, incredibly well-aged fiftysomething who looks a bit like John Wick, or possibly that brooding weirdo from The Gift. He meets Carrie-Anne Moss’s Trinity in a coffee shop, but fails to recognise her despite all their adventures down the digital rabbit hole. Later he’s seen training in what appears to be a dojo with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s unnamed character, who appears to be fulfilling the Morpheus role of martial arts mentor and guide to the Matrix. Is Abdul-Mateen playing a younger version of the human resistance leader, and if so couldn’t they just have digitally de-aged him, given the entire movie probably takes place inside Adobe After Effects anyway?
The teaser poses further questions. Why is Neo taking blue pills as medication? Does this signal the new Neo’s willingness to succumb to the virtual world that keeps him blissfully ignorant of the horrifying reality? And if so, what’s been going on – didn’t the pesky machines promise to free all humans from the Matrix?
Perhaps our new robot mates failed to come up with an alternate power source and reneged on the deal? Maybe Smith isn’t dead after all (Jonathan Groff’s unnamed character certainly seems sinister). The great thing about Matrix movies is that all usual rules of film-making continuity can be easily placed to one side. Reality can be shifted and reconfigured at every opportunity in the interest of entertainment. This is like the bit in Doctor Who where one Time Lord’s face morphs into the next. For all we know, Reeves could be playing the Mad Hatter and Moss a giant pot plant who just appears to be a human being.
This is both intriguing and, frankly, terrifying. Lana Wachowski – directing solo this time – might easily have pulled us all along for the ride just to see how often she can tell slightly different versions of the same story before anyone notices. Or there could be a genuinely fascinating reason why Neo and Trinity are back and ready to kick machine ass once again. We won’t know for sure until just before Christmas, when the movie hits cinemas.
Are you ready to take the red pill, and step back into wonderland to the sound of a pounding techno beat? Hey, at least it’s 20 years on, we’ve all grown up, and everyone else in the cinema (not to mention on screen in the underground sweat-pits that are sure to crop up) is probably going to be double-jabbed.