Keanu Reeves wearing sunglasses as Neo in 'The Matrix'

Things We Saw Today: The Matrix 4 Now Has a Title and a Lot of New Details

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Did you forget that we were getting a fourth installment of The Matrix franchise? You’d be forgiven, because we’ve been short on updates for the movie, which is slated to be released around Christmas 2021 in theaters and on HBO Max. But now a whole lot of data about The Matrix 4 is about to flood our neural pathways.

This week at CinemaCon, attendees were treated to a title reveal and a first look at footage from the film. The Matrix 4 is officially titled The Matrix Resurrections. This fits nicely with the movies’ themes as well as their “R” naming patterns to date (the last two movies were The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, and there was the direct-to-video The Matrix Revisited).

Resurrections is written and directed by Lana Wachowski. Her sister Lilly Wachowski, who co-wrote and directed the other films with Lana, could not be involved because of commitments elsewhere, but has expressed her best wishes for the project, saying she hopes that it’s “better than the original.”

Here is The Hollywood Reporter’s breakdown of the footage aired at CinemaCon. It appears that in many ways we’re staring back at the beginning:

The trailer began with Thomas Anderson (Reeves) in therapy, telling his therapist (Neil Patrick Harris), “I had dreams that weren’t just dreams. Am I crazy?” He senses something is not quite right with the world, but he has no memory of what The Matrix is. Later, he runs into a woman (Moss) at a coffee shop. They shake hands, and there seems to be something between them, but neither one remembers the other. Meanwhile, Reeves’ Thomas spends his days taking prescription blue pills, and wondering why everyone in his world is glued to their phones — looking around and realizing he’s the only one on a crowded elevator not looking at a device.

Eventually, Reeves’ Thomas runs into a man (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) who is reminiscent of Morpheus, the freedom fighter played by Laurence Fishburne in the original trilogy. This mysterious man hands Anderson a red pill, and soon we see footage of him with powers, seeing The Matrix for the fake reality that it is. The footage followed some similar beats of the original, including Neo (Reeves) fighting the Morpheus-like figure in a dojo, and an image of Anderson in an incubator. There’s also a shot of Neo looking in a mirror and seeing an older version of himself. Neo also seems to have a few new powers from the last time, with the trailer including a shot of what looks like him controlling a missile through telekinesis to prevent it from hitting him.

io9’s Germain Lussier saw the CinemaCon footage and also had an excellent, detailed write-up of the action. Here’s a bit more:

Neo and the person with blue hair walk through a mirror. He’s in a café. Then he’s in a very serene dojo, which is on a lake, with Abdul-Mateen’s character. “The only thing that matters to you is still here,” he says. “You’ll never give up.” They begin to perform martial arts, and when Thomas hits Abdul-Mateen’s character hard in the chest and he flies out of the room.

Thomas and the blue-haired person are on a train. A bullet from a sniper is shot from far away and it flies through the train toward them. Tons of action scenes now cut very quickly. We see the fields of people plugged into the matrix. Trinity being unplugged in the matrix. The blue haired person jumping over a car in slow motion. Thomas holds bullets in the air. A helicopter fires a missile at Thomas and Trinity, and Thomas changes its direction mid-air and shoots it into another helicopter. Then, Thomas is in an office with a man in a business suit played by Jonathan Groff. “You’re going back to where it all started,” he says. “Back to the Matrix.” Then the title: The Matrix, which fades away, and then Resurrections.

You very much get the sense that everything that happened before with Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus is happening again, just with minor changes. Characters fated to live the same stories over and over again. Or… something like that. We don’t really know. But damned if it didn’t look as big and action-packed as we’ve come to expect.

Well, this certainly sounds a lot like a Matrix movie! It’s hard to believe that the original Matrix came out in 1999—I’m showing my age here, but it was such a massive phenomenon that shifted the paradigm of movie-making, and it still feels as part of popular culture as ever. There’s a whole cottage industry dedicated to examining the philosophy and theories of the films. The movies did vital things like universalize a trans experience for many watching and serve as a “trans metaphor,” to quote Lilly Wachowski. There were also some unsavory unintentional cultural side effects. As Emily VanDerWerff wrote for Vox on the 20th anniversary of the first movie:

But everything about it that replicates what the trans experience is like prior to coming out — and, thus, made it so appealing to trans viewers — simultaneously tapped into some other zeitgeist entirely and became a weapon of some of the worst people on the internet.

These worst internet people seized upon the concept of “taking the red pill” and co-opted its usage via groups with misogynistic and/or conservative and/or conspiratorial agendas, though this did lead to one of the best Twitter interactions of all time:

It’s exciting that Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are back for this go-round—if everything in Hollywood must be revived, at least we get to see Neo and Trinity together again. The new film also stars actors we love to watch like Jada Pinkett Smith, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, and Jonathan Groff. And I imagine that the action scenes are going to be next-level.

We now live more technologically-based lives than even The Matrix could have predicted, and The Matrix Revolutions came out back in 2003. I for one can’t wait to hear what Lana Wachowski has to say about our world today through the prism of Neo’s story.

Resurrections will return us to bullet-time on December 22nd, 2021.

(via io9, image: Warner Bros.)

Here are some other things we saw today:

  • Letitia Wright, who plays Shuri, “sustained minor injuries” during a stunt for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. (via Variety)
  • “How Sony Tarnished Jeopardy! and Alex Trebek’s Legacy” (via Vulture)
  • Two Congressmen took an unauthorized trip to Kabul, Afghanistan in the midst of ongoing evacuations. (via Washington Post)
  • Game of Thrones’ Jacob Anderson, who played Grey Worm, has been cast as Louis in the TV adaptation of Interview with the Vampire. (via Screenrant)
  • Info on Magic: The Gathering’s Lord of the Rings crossover. Sounds like a match made in card heaven. (via Polygon)

  • And finally:

What did you see out there today?

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Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.