The Matrix 4 has puzzled me ever since it was announced a few months ago. I was content living in a world where there were only had three Matrix films. One that was superb, another that was ambitious, and a third that saw the neutering of Morpheus and… well, it was an ending. It’s funny, when I was in college I loved the Matrix films. I was borderline obsessed with the Matrix films. A buddy and I were once involved with some extracurriculars one viewing and I swear to God that we literally solved the second movie. We’re talking some deep level talks that transcended the whole ignorance is bliss motif. We saw the Architect and we figured it allllll out and it was such a rewarding experience. Until it was gone the following morning because extracurriculars don’t always result in retention. I’ve searched for finding that meaning again each time I watch the movie, which isn’t very often anymore, never to reclaim that level of clarity. Sigh.
About a year ago I stumbled upon an essay I was writing my junior year, just for me because I didn’t have a website then, about superb character development and had focused mainly on the Matrix series… and the Berserk anime oddly enough. Two things I was heavily into during the college years. Needless to say, I cringed a little. The writing most certainly needed some work but the subject matter didn’t just seem outdated but kind of silly and misguided. I don’t think the Matrix films were delivering on all the hyperbole I was projecting on to them. Berserk certainly did but that’s a story for another day. Sometimes obsession makes you blind to what’s actually in front of you. Just ask Joe Goldberg about that.
With the announcement of a fourth Matrix film, I was initially curious. There were reports of rebooting the franchise with Michael B Jordan and I was all in for that. Sure, let’s revisit the Matrix. Why not? There’s no way that the truce that was reached at the end of the third film was going to last because robots are going to robot and humans are going to constantly think that robots are trying to replace us. From there though the wheels kind of fell off. Logic has never been a strong sense of the Matrix trilogy, especially when concerning the sequels. That seems to hold true when it comes to news breaking for the fourth film.
Let’s start with the return of Keanu Reeves and Carrie Ann Moss. Two characters that are essential to the Matrix franchise but are also very much dead. Trinity dies outside of the Matrix which makes her extra dead while Neo goes full Jesus and sacrifices himself for the greater good dying both within the Matrix and outside. You remember all those tiny robots carrying his lifeless body toward the robots that make that strange babyface in the sky? Dead in both worlds. I get wanting to cash in on Keanu Reeves, he had a hell of a year last year, but at what point does his involvement negate the film that came before it? Unless he becomes the heart of the Matrix-like some sort of Wizard at the end of the Yellow Brick Road. But if that’s the case then wouldn’t you think that Neo would maintain the peace between the robots and the humans because he’s the One? Also isn’t he the Matrix now? As for Trinity, I honestly don’t know. It’s not like the chemistry between Neo and her was jumping off the screen. If Neo is the Matrix now maybe he creates a Trinity program because he misses her? There are far too many questions here and none of them really make me interested in getting the answers.
Of course, Morpheus will be returning which makes complete sense considering he is the only one of the main characters who lived in the end, but I don’t think we live in a world where Morpheus is still offering people the red or blue pill. Especially since the third film ends with the human race allowed the choice of real-life existence or the Matrix. And considering the state of the real world, no sun and such, I would choose the Matrix. What?! I don’t mind being self-aware and at least in the Matrix I can get a tan and eat something that isn’t grown in an underground cave because the surface level is toxic. Don’t forget that Morpheus had his legs taken out from under him in the third film, what purpose does he serve now? Giving terrible Zion speeches? Wearing kind of awesome post-apocalyptic sweaters? Reminding people that Neo was the One and he died so we could choose between harsh reality and self-aware ignorance? Yeah, sign me up for that movie.
This week it was also announced that Hugo Weaving would not be reprising his role as Agent Smith due to a scheduling conflict. Of all the characters to bring back, Smith would be on the top of my list. Granted, him becoming the main villain of the Matrix was a little shoehorned, a little convoluted, and maybe a tad bit forced, but if there is one take away from the sequels it’s that Weaving steals the show. He’s clearly the actor having the most fun. So much fun that even Ian Bliss’s impersonation of Agent Smith outside of the Matrix is a blast. So now you have a movie with Neo (how?), Trinity (what?), Morpheus (why?), and no Agent Smith. Sounds… fun?
The problem with the Matrix sequels is people forget how cursed the filming of those movies was. Carrie Ann Moss broke her leg. Aaliyah died in a plane crash while already filming scenes. The original Oracle died in between the movies and had to be recast which lead to a strange explanation as to why the new face. Tank quit and then filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros because a breach of a verbal contract. It seemed very apparent that the universe didn’t want these films made or maybe that’s just our robot overlords interfering. Honestly, we’d have no way of knowing if we’re currently inside a Matrix-like simulation right now. That concept has always been the one thing that tripped me out about these films yet somehow gets buried with the more confusing aspects of the universe like The Architect, the whole purgatory train station which exists within the Matrix even though Neo is in a coma in the real world, the Merovingian, and whatever was up with that guy with all the wristwatches.
I know it’s becoming a popular concept dipping into the nostalgia pool and reviving properties that maybe should just lay where they are. Hell, Bad Boys just did it to great success. The Matrix has always been a franchise that has captured the imagination of its audience, redefined the way we see action in movies, and left many of us with nosebleeds trying to figure out just what in the hell was happening. Is this something we really need to revisit? Especially when the casting makes for so many frustrating questions. Don’t get me wrong, this could be The Matrix sequel we’ve been waiting for but it seems like that ship has sailed and this is an attempt on cashing in on all things Keanu. I hope it’s more than that but I’m not holding my breath. The Matrix just doesn’t seem like a relevant property anymore and maybe the nostalgia will be strong but is that sustainable? As of right now, I’m opting to take the blue pill until this thing actually takes shape. Ignorance is bliss after all.