1999 was a very interesting year to experience; the Euro was established, grunge music was all the rage, the anti-establishment movement was in full swing and everyone thought computers would bomb the earth because they couldn’t count from 1999 to 2000. In the midst of it all, The Matrix premiered on May 24, 1999. Referring to The Matrix solely as an action film isn’t just an understatement; it’s an insult. This movie revolutionized filmmaking, elevated fight scene choreography and challenged the sorts of themes you could include in a blockbuster.
The last two films in The Matrix Trilogy (The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions) both premiered in 2003 — and both admittedly received very polarized reviews. Almost 20 years later, Lana Wachowski will transform The Matrix Trilogy into a tetralogy. The Matrix Resurrections will premiere on December 22, 2021. Die-hard fans will finally be able to re-enter The Matrix, while newcomers will follow the white rabbit for the first time. To celebrate the return of this beloved series, we’re recapping the story so far and combing through hidden details you might have missed in the first full-length trailer for The Matrix Resurrections.
What’s the Story Behind The Matrix?
The Matrix (1999) follows Neo (Keanu Reeves) as he learns that he’s living in a simulated reality. Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and the Nebuchadnezzar Crew help Neo break free from the Matrix. Neo starts to train, learns about the despotic Machines and the prophecy of “the One.” Tragedy strikes, and Morpheus is captured by Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). Neo and Trinity risk everything to rescue Morpheus. They succeed, but Agent Smith sets his sights on Neo. On the brink of defeat, Trinity expresses her love for Neo. Neo finally becomes the One, defeats Agent Smith and flies off to “a world where anything is possible.”
The Matrix Reloaded (2003) picks up six months later. Neo struggles to liberate the rest of humankind, despite his newfound power. The Oracle (Gloria Foster) tells Neo to find the Source of the Matrix. Agent Smith reemerges as a rogue program and now wages war against both humans and machines. The stakes escalate, and alliances are forged and broken. Neo, Morpheus and Trinity rescue the Keymaker (Randall Duk Kim), allowing Neo to finally reach the Source. There, he meets the Architect (Helmut Bakaitis) and learns a startling truth: The One is just another part of the Matrix’s grand design. Neo rejects the grim choices laid out before him and rescues Trinity from the brink of death. Neo and his allies flee — with Agent Smith hot on their trail.
The Matrix Revolutions (2003) begins with Neo trapped inside of a subway station in the Matrix. As Morpheus and Trinity work to free him, Agent Smith assimilates the Oracle, and the Machines prepare to attack Zion — the last remaining human stronghold. Neo reaches the Machine City, though Trinity dies in the process. Heartbroken, Neo presses on, brokers a peace treaty with the Machines and confronts Smith one last time. Evenly matched, Neo sacrifices himself to defeat Smith once and for all. An uneasy truce is forged between humans and machines — one that the Oracle believes will endure for “as long as it can.”
What Will the Fourth Matrix Be About?
The Matrix Resurrections (2021) seems to be full of surprises. Neo is back, though he seems unaware of his past exploits as the One. Chugging blue pills like candy, Neo encounters Trinity — who also seems ignorant of their past together. Friends old and new remind Neo of his legacy, and of the unresolved conflict between people and machines. The Matrix Resurrections will likely follow Neo as he tries to rescue Trinity, become the One again and bring an end to the Matrix. Series veterans like Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss will reprise their iconic roles, while newcomers like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Neil Patrick Harris will round out the roster.
At least, that’s what we’ve initially gleaned. Nothing is ever so cut and dry when it comes to The Matrix films — or even the novels, video games and animated shorts based on them. The devil is in the details when it comes to decoding this cryptic franchise. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the first trailer for The Matrix Resurrections — literary allusions and callbacks to the original Matrix Trilogy are scattered everywhere.
- The Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris) calls Neo “Thomas” — as in Thomas A. Anderson.
- A black cat appears shortly afterward. Black cats are synonymous with “glitches in the Matrix.”
- There’s a close-up on Neo’s balled-up fist — a reference to his final battle with Agent Smith.
- Neo’s “real” body appears during the flashing sequence. Machines are crawling all over it, possibly hinting that Neo’s original body is still in the Machine City.
- Neo and Trinity grab each other’s hands. Light shimmers between them, similar to the light that destroyed Agent Smith.
- Bugs (Jessica Henwick) recreates the opening scene from The Matrix (1999).
- “Tubed” Neo wakes up in a red room, surrounded by gigantic machines.
- Someone wearing an ornate ring snaps his fingers. The Merovingian wore a ring on his left hand, and Lambert Wilson is reprising his role.
- Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” plays throughout the trailer. Lyrics alluding to Alice in Wonderland, pills and the titular white rabbit fill the song.
- Neo downs blue prescription pills. “Bluepills” are people who choose to live in the Matrix.
Hidden Details Reloaded
- Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ character closes an Alice in Wonderland book.
- Neo sees an older version of himself in a mirror. Mirrors will play a pivotal role in this film, as will the concept of manipulating time.
- Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) offers Neo a red pill and says “Time to fly.” Flight was among Neo’s greatest abilities as the One.
- Neo and Morpheus spar in a simulated dojo — a direct callback to the legendary dojo scene in The Matrix.
- Harvesters pick through a Fetus Field — one larger than we’ve ever seen before.
- We see a brief shot of the “real” world, evident from the scene’s blue tint and the ravaged buildings.
- Neo and Trinity stand atop a skyscraper, likely a callback to the climax of The Matrix.
- An Agent, likely Agent Thompson (Daniel Bernhardt), possesses a police officer…
- Someone else, possibly Agent Smith, holds a black Desert Eagle to Neo’s head.
- SWAT officers storm a room as strange footage is projected onto a wall — footage of the first time Neo “woke up” from the Matrix.
Hidden Details Revolutions
- Morpheus fires two guns as he marches through a hallway — a possible allusion to the “lobby shootout” from The Matrix.
- Neo and an Agent battle underground, similar to the first fight between Neo and Agent Smith.
- Neo’s wardrobe shifts numerous times throughout the trailer. Scenes that feature Neo in a long coat may be scenes where he’s become the One again.
Lana Wachowski and her team have done an excellent job enticing fans without giving away the entire plot of The Matrix Resurrections. This first trailer keeps us guessing, which is something all three films in the original trilogy accomplished long before and long after they premiered. This trailer also gives us yet another film to look forward to this fall.