The Matrix Resurrections Trailer Breakdown: Let's See How Deep The Rabbit Hole Goes

"The Matrix Resurrections" trailer is here, and there's only one word to sum it up: "whoa." Let's take a closer look at Lana Wachowski's grand, visually dazzling, and highly anticipated return to this groundbreaking cinematic universe.

The Matrix is Real(ly Fake Looking)

The very first shot showcases a Victorian-looking building in San Francisco, but as that familiar, metallic, "nails on a chalkboard" sound effect indicates, we're actually back inside the Matrix, the artificial world constructed to fool humans into thinking they're living normal lives when they're actually in liquid pods, serving as batteries for robots in a post-apocalyptic hellscape. Did anyone else think that this shot looks almost purposefully fake? It reminded me of the Amazon Studios animation that plays before that company's movies.

A Glitch

Before we even see our hero, we see a black cat — the symbol of a glitch in The Matrix. "It happens when they change something," Trinity explained in the first film, and as we're about to see, there are plenty of changes since we last saw these characters.

Welcome Back, Mr. Anderson

A twitchy Thomas Anderson, the hacker played by Keanu Reeves who became Neo in the original film more than twenty years ago, sits in a therapist's office. "You seem particularly triggered right now," says a character played by Neil Patrick Harris, and considering how influential the original "Matrix" was, particularly in the realm of online discourse, Lana Wachowski and co-writers David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon's use of the word "triggered" feels like a purposeful meta-textual dig at those "fans" who have misread the original movie's messages and co-opted them for their own means.

"I had dreams that weren't just dreams," Anderson says, and we see flashes of footage of a long-haired Neo diving to knock a bullet out of the air, Yahya Abdul-Mateen I wielding two semi-automatic guns, what appears to be an interior shootout with sprinklers going off, and more. There are also moments that appear to recycle older footage, but upon closer inspection, they may in fact be new versions of scenes we've seen before: Trinity in a pose that looks extremely similar to the one where the cops try to apprehend her in the opening scene of the original film, and Neo waking up in his battery pod with those evil robots gliding around him. Back in the therapist's office, Anderson is unsettled. "Am I crazy?" he wonders aloud. "We don't use that word in here," NPH replies. I'm curious to see if he's playing a guardrail type of character — a part of the Matrix designed to keep Anderson from remembering his past.

"Have We Met?"

Anderson meets a much more suburban-looking version of Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and when the two shake hands, there's an instant connection. There's something funny about the two of them meeting in broad daylight in a coffee shop, contrasted with their first meeting in a booming night club decades earlier.

A "Bound" Shout-Out

After taking several blue pills (which, in the original film, was coded to indicate the taker living a life of ignorance inside the Matrix, as opposed to the red pill, which awakened the taker to the actual harsh reality of existence), Neo stares into his eyes in the mirror and then wanders outside to see a whirling formation of birds. In the lower corner of the screen, there's a sign for Corky's Massage Spa & Salon. "Corky" was Gina Gershon's character's name in the Wachowski's neo-noir film "Bound," which they made before the first "Matrix," and the sign's logo features a double-sided axe called a labrys, which Gershon's character had tattooed on her arm in "Bound."

Familiar Faces?

After realizing those blue pills may not be the best thing for him, Anderson dumps them down the sink and encounters a woman in another shop wearing big glasses and reading a copy of "Alice in Wonderland." In the first movie, the phrase "follow the white rabbit" was instrumental in driving Thomas Anderson toward his destiny. Is this glasses-wearing woman a new iteration of the Oracle, a prophet who took several forms over the course of the original trilogy? Seemingly in that same location, Anderson glances into a mirror and briefly sees an unfamiliar face looking back at him. Is that an older version of himself, perhaps? (This film is reportedly set many years after the events of "The Matrix Revolutions.") Then Anderson comes face to face with a man wearing a dark suit, tie, tiny circular glasses, and who offers him the choice of a blue pill and a red pill. No, it's not Laurence Fishburne — he evidently wasn't invited back. But could Yahya Abdul-Mateen II be playing a different version of Fishburne's Morpheus? Seems likely. Naturally, Anderson takes the red pill this time. "Time to fly," Mateen says.

Follow the White Rabbit

"You want the truth, dear?" asks a young blue-haired woman played by Jessica Henwick as she meets Anderson on a dark rooftop. "You're going to have to fly." She's rocking the same white rabbit tattoo that lured Anderson to that club in the first movie, so it's probably a good idea to see what she's up to. Anderson follows her through a door of light, emerging through the same mirror-y metallic goo that represented his first trip down the rabbit hole all those years ago.

Is This The Real Life? Is This Just Fantasy?

Maybe-Morpheus tells Anderson that the only thing that matters to Anderson is still "here," and we see a shot of Keanu and Carrie-Anne standing in a garage with a motorcycle nearby — a nice shout-out to Trinity's favorite means of conveyance. But as the two stand face to face holding hands, Anderson sees the green Matrix code spill down Trinity's face. Does that mean that she's not really there with him? Is she just as fake as Cypher's steak?

Round 2: Fight!

If Yahya isn't playing Morpheus, his character is certainly following closely in Morpheus's footsteps. Another similarity: a kung fu fight session with Anderson in a beautiful open-air lake facility. "You don't know me," Anderson says, before launching Yahya up and backwards with a burst of energy and blowing up the entire facility. His transition back into Neo seems to be fully complete.

We're Gonna Need a Montage

Here's where things start to feel epic. As the music reaches a crescendo, we see shots of the machines mining humans for power, a ship traveling through the apparent ruins of Zion, Neo and Trinity on a rooftop backlit by the sun, and a nighttime rooftop shootout in which Jessica Henwick's character leaps off the roof, flips downward to a nearby building, and then launches off of it as Agents zap into police officers below. Someone holds a gun to Neo's face as Neo rubs his fingers together, seemingly surprised that he can feel the rain between them. (I have no idea what that could mean, but it's a cool visual moment that slips by quickly in this rapid-fire section of the trailer.)

Who is That Helmeted Man?

It took me a couple of views to understand this next section, but as Neo and his pals escape from a building through a magic door that leads onto a moving train, a guy dressed up like a SWAT team officer (is that you, "Mindhunter" star Jonathan Groff?) fires some sort of projectile that makes it through the door and blows up a portion of the train.

Business As Usual

Maybe-Morpheus casually walks through the hallway of a building, shooting baddies across his body with two different types of guns. (Since I have not explicitly said this yet, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II looks awesome in this movie.) Neo also appears to be running down a hallway in the same building — the obscured text behind him appears to read "Deutsche China," which means this could be a more globe-trotting affair than I anticipated — and he leaps away from an explosion behind him. This is not the type of behavior we expect to see from "The One," the super-powered being who was always flying around and beating up Agent Smith in the original trilogy. This version of Neo appears to be more ... dare I say ... human?

Trinity Busts Some Skulls

There's a cool shot of Trinity beating the pulp out of some SWAT team officers, and on one particular hit, the camera seems to zoom in and shake upon impact. I wonder if this could be a tease of the innovative new technology Lana Wachowski is using on this movie. "I think she's going to change the industry again with this film," Henwick said in an interview last fall. "There's some camera rigs that I've never seen before that we're using. That's probably all I can say for that."

Hallway Shootout

There's a cool "Inception"-esque moment showcasing a hallway shootout between some agents and Henwick and Mateen's characters, who are sprinting away and running up the walls as they try to escape with their lives. Henwick is really flipping out (literally), spinning and dodging and generally putting her action skills on display. Here's hoping this film is a major launchpad for her after being underutilized in some bad shows and minor roles in big projects over the past few years.

Subway Battle

Neo and an unknown agent get in a fistfight in an abandoned subway, mirroring the climactic fight in the first film. Is that agent played by Jonathan Groff? It's a little hard to tell with certainty, but it seems plausible. I love their well-timed but ineffectual jump-punch.

Neo Has the Power

Surrounded by enemies, Neo releases a burst of energy that radiates outward and blows everyone backward. In what looks like a lobby (Neo and Trinity have a history in lobbies), Neo stops a barrage of bullets heading straight for them, and then after dodging some green-eyed goons on Trinity's motorcycle, Neo uses his powers to redirect a helicopter's missile into another nearby helicopter, blowing it to smithereens. Remember that moment from "The Transporter" trailer when Jason Statham deflects a missile with a silver platter? It didn't make it into the movie, but I still think about it all the time. Neo's move was kinda like that.

Too Much Groffsauce On It

After several incredible moments, the trailer ends on a bit of a strange note. Sitting in a high-rise office, Neo sits opposite Jonathan Groff, whose delivery feels a little too modern for the otherwise oddly timeless vibe that permeates this franchise. "After all these years," he says, "coming back to where it all started ... back to the Matrix." I understand that the trailer editors probably wanted to end on the word "Matrix," but the Groff of it all is incongruous with everything that came before. Maybe that particular line delivery won't make it into the final cut of the film, or maybe seeing more of Groff's character will make that moment play better in context. But man, what a great trailer.

"The Matrix Resurrections" arrives in theaters and on HBO Max on December 22, 2021.