It's time to take the red pill back to Wonderland in the first trailer for The Matrix Resurrections. Lana Wachowski helms this long-awaited continuation of the Matrix saga, which originally concluded back in 2003. We assumed it was all done and dusted – then along comes this eye-popping new teaser promising visual majesty, trippy chronology and mind-melting fight sequences by the dozen.
Keanu Reeves is back (somehow) as our hero, Thomas 'Neo' Anderson, the man who was originally tasked with liberating humanity from the diabolical machines. The machines used the computer simulation known as the Matrix to pull the wool over people's eyes, making them think they were living an ordinary existence when, in reality, their bodies were being used as batteries to power a terrifying futuristic world.
Answers aren't exactly forthcoming in this spectacular new trailer – but there are intriguing questions aplenty. Here are the ones we want answered.
1. How did Neo and Trinity end up back in the Matrix... if it even is the Matrix?
You'll remember (or maybe not) that at the end of 2003's The Matrix Revolutions, Neo became an obvious allegory for Jesus Christ. He essentially died to redeem mankind, destroying Smith (Hugo Weaving) and leading to a schmaltzy, rainbow-adorned finale in which mankind emerged triumphant over the machines.
How, then, is Neo alive at the beginning of the trailer for The Matrix Resurrections? He appears to be living the kind of 'real world' existence that would have once passed for a simulation within the Matrix. Nevertheless, Reeves' body language communicates that something is subtly off (and we're not talking about the rubber duck on his head when taking a bath). More perplexingly his former beau Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), who also died in Revolutions, is alive as well, and seems to think they've both met before.
As Alice would say in Alice in Wonderland (Carroll's classic book makes a none-too-subtle trailer cameo): "Curiouser and curiouser..."
2. Is Yahya Abdul-Mateen II playing young Morpheus?
This isn't spelled out directly, but we can guess from the cosmetic dress sense alone that Abdul-Mateen II is playing the youthful incarnation of Laurence Fishburne's character (it's those unmistakable clip-on shades that sell it for us). More significantly, Abdul-Mateen's character is skilled in the kind of kung-fu arts that Morpheus imparted to Neo in the first Matrix movie (released in 1999). His character definitely appears to know who Neo is, and, after offering him the signature red pill back to Wonderland, indicates why the latter continues to fight.
One might imagine that the use of 'fight' in this instance has allegorical and spiritual overtones: maybe Neo, within the context of his new Matrix existence, is psychologically calling out for his lost love Trinity?
3. Is there an older Neo?
This is a brief shot (one that echoes the fluid mirror effect from the first film), but we can definitely see an aged Neo reflected in the surface. Time appears to have gone haywire in the fourth Matrix movie, leaving us with questions within questions. Has Neo's seeming retreat into the Matrix helped him retain a youthful appearance? Is Neo actually alive and ageing in the real world that exists beyond the simulation? How has Morpheus (if it is indeed he) seemingly done a Benjamin Button and aged backwards?
4. Is that a younger Oracle?
The woman who presents Neo with Alice in Wonderlans may or may not be a younger incarnation of the Matrix's greatest sage, whom we last saw at the close of The Matrix Revolutions. There's no official cast credit for the Oracle, but we imagine the filmmakers are keeping things firmly under wraps.
5. Is the blue pill a placebo?
We're sensing some evil new conspiracy at work here. Within the parameters of the Matrix, Neo is seen popping a familiar blue pill that appears to have psychotropic effects (we clearly see his iris enlargen). Nevertheless, the timing of the visual imagery with the accompanying lyrics from Jefferson Airplane's 'White Rabbit' makes us suspect something else is happening. ("One pill makes you larger, one pill makes you small, and the ones mother gives you don't do anything at all.")
Maybe Neo has been conditioned to take these pills? And maybe they're blinding him from the absolute truth, the truth being that the world as he sees it isn't real. We get a shot of the pills being dumped down a sink, so reality clearly comes calling before long.
6. Where does Jessica Henwick's character fit in?
The Game of Thrones actor is a prominent new player in The Matrix Resurrections. But we can't spell out much about her – she doesn't even have a name yet. However, she appears to be a freedom fighter who alerts Neo to the boundary between the worlds of the imagined and the actual (effectively a substitute for Trinity's role in the original movie).
7. Is Neo fighting for Trinity's soul?
Look closely in this shot and you'll see that Trinity's cheek is resonant with lines of glowing green code, the classic signifier of the Matrix. Has her soul become trapped within the simulation after the events of The Matrix Revolutions? And has Neo been realising this on a subconscious level during his new Matrix existence? Maybe that's why the powers-that-be have got him hooked on the blue pill. 'Morpheus' says to Neo: "The only thing that matters to you is still here," which we think rather backs up our theory...
8. Are we getting flashbacks to young Morpheus discovering the Matrix?
Remember Neo poking the mirror in the first Matrix movie? We get a mirroring of that in the trailer for the fourth, as Abdul-Mateen's character discovers a glassy surface behaving in an odd way. Given his shocked reaction, he clearly hasn't seen this before. This makes us wonder whether the fourth Matrix movie will be, at least in part, an origin story for Morpheus, how he discovered the Matrix and how he came to lead the rebellion against the machines.
9. Are Sean Patrick Harris and Jonathan Groff playing villains in disguise?
Always mistrust the bookish, seemingly bland individuals within the Matrix universe. Sean Patrick Harris seems to be acting as Neo's shrink (those lurid blue glasses are, perhaps, an indication that something isn't right – maybe they're colour-aligned with the pills?), while Jonathan Groff seems to know that Neo is headed "back to where it all started... the Matrix". That last sentence implies that Neo's current reality isn't a computer simulation, or at least not the one with which we became familiar in the original movie trilogy.
Perhaps the machines have risen up again and adapted the Matrix technology to ensnare a new generation of unwitting human hosts? Where Neo fits into it though is anyone's guess at this stage.
The Matrix Resurrections is scheduled for release on 22nd December 2021. What did we miss in the trailer? Let us know @Cineworld.