Despite a summer box office surge—it’s still lower than usual, but people ARE going back to the movies—Warner Brothers is keeping with their “everything on HBO Max, too” plan, even for their biggest titles of the year, including The Matrix Resurrections. With the first trailer just released this morning, that sort of feels like a mistake, at least for this movie. I know that we don’t know what December will be like re: COVID, and there is every possibility we’re back in lockdowns and what not. What I DO know is that in a normal year, The Matrix Resurrections would crush the holiday box office. (In reality, it will have to compete with Spider-Man: Doctor Strange Did It, but in a normal year these two movies would not open against each other. It’s only happening now because Resurrections will be available at home, too, which will cut into its box office power, clearing the path for Spider-Man.) This trailer is equal parts Matrix nostalgia and “what the hell is happening NOW”, and it’s freaking awesome.
Keanu Reeves is back as Neo, and doesn’t Keanu just always seem to know when we need him? He’s like Punxsutawney Phil except useful, popping his head up out of the ground to bring us good cheer and sometimes even good movies. Though Neo died at the end of The Matrix Revolutions, it appears he “lives” in the Matrix as his Thomas Anderson persona, and Thomas Anderson is having a hard time. He’s in therapy and back on medication, taking “the blue pill” which keeps the façade of the Matrix active. Neil Patrick Harris is his therapist with very cool glasses and a very distrustful mien. Carrie-Anne Moss is also back as Trinity, who is also dead in the real world but still alive in the Matrix, too. There’s a lady with a white rabbit tattoo, a red pill, and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as…new Morpheus? Is Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus the only dead guy who didn’t get to live on in the Matrix?
Obviously, there is a lot about this trailer that seems to rehash stuff from The Matrix, but equally obviously, something else is going on, because how else are Neo and Trinity still in the Matrix? They don’t remember each other, which suggests the machines have done something with and/or to them. Can’t wait to see what awful body horror that is on the other side of this thing (the body horror of The Matrix has always been underappreciated). So the mystery presented by this trailer is what happened to Neo and Trinity AFTER they died, and why is the Matrix still a going concern all these years later?
One thing I really hope to see from a new Matrix movie is the reclaiming of the “red pill” as a cultural touchstone. It’s been completely usurped by mens’ rights assholes, which is especially ironic given that The Matrix trilogy is a trans allegory and the people who talk about “taking the red pill” are not known for their allyship. Earlier in the week, The Matrix website updated with a red pill/blue pill choose-your-own-adventure that suggests Lana Wachowski (working for the first time on this franchise without her sister, Lilly) is going to remind those f-cknuts what The Matrix is really about. It’s not about waking up to a world in which a secret female cabal conspires to keep sweaty fedoras in their mothers’ basements, but waking up to a world in which an oppressive culture keeps people from living their fullest lives as their true selves as understood by the individual, not the regime.
The Matrix has always been about liberation of the self, and now that Lana Wachowski is living as her fullest self, I cannot wait to see what new things she has to say through the world of Neo and Trinity. And also, what IS going on with New Morpheus?
(Lainey: Attached – Keanu in Berlin this week working on the next John Wick. If this is his pick-up, that’s his driver, and of course Keanu would never get in the back seat.)