The Vast Legacy Of The Matrix

"The experience of making the movies was such a transformative time in my life," says Carrie-Anne Moss of "The Matrix" films, "it was such an opportunity of a lifetime."

As the December 22nd release date for Lana Wachowski's "The Matrix Resurrections" moves closer, the time is right to look back at the legacy of a decades-long franchise. In a new video from Warner Bros., the "Resurrections" cast goes long on the franchise, remembering their own introductions to the "Matrix" films and their initial reactions. 

Included in the roster are newcomers like Eréndira Ibarra, known for playing Daniela Velázquez in the Wachowski-born Netflix series "Sense 8." Her role in the film is unknown, but Ibarra recalls seeing the original "Matrix" and feeling profoundly changed. "I remember leaving the movie theater just knowing that things were going to be different in my life," she reminisces. 

More cast members add to the praise, including Jessica Henwick and Max Riemelt. Neil Patrick Harris (who apparently plays Neo's therapist — what a gig — according to the film's official trailer) gets excited over the action, particularly the chase sequences and the introduction of the iconic and now oft-parodied "bullet time." This sentiment is echoed by Daniel Bernhardt, who we know to be donning the shades and playing the presumably villainous role of Agent Johnson.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, coming off of the lead role in Nia DaCosta's clever "Candyman" sequel, shares Harris' joy over the visually stunning slowed-down gunfights. Abdul-Mateen II will be portraying Neo's mentor, Morpheus (formerly played by Laurence Fishburne). "Resurrections" sees the return of Jada Pinkett Smith as well, who is presumably reprising her role of hovercraft captain Niobe from the original film's two sequels, "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions." Niobe did not believe in the Oracle's prophecy that he would find "The One," but nonetheless proved a valuable ally for Neo. The role earned Pinkett Smith an NAACP Image Award nomination in 2004. Of course, the returns that everyone is anticipating are those of the film series' leads, Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne-Moss, who played Neo and Trinity in all three "Matrix" films.

'It's something beyond yourself; it's big'

Here's the official synopsis for "The Matrix Resurrections":

The Matrix Resurrections is a continuation of the story established in the first MATRIX film. It reunites Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss as cinematic icons Neo & Trinity in an expansion of their story that ventures back into the Matrix and even deeper down the rabbit hole. A mind-bending new adventure with action and epic scale, it's set in a familiar yet even more provocative world where reality is more subjective than ever and all that's required to see the truth is to free your mind.

The movie is a "Sense 8" reunion of sorts: returning collaborators include directors of photography Daniele Massaccesi and John Toll, production designers Hugh Bateup and Peter Walpole, editor Joseph Jett Sally, costume designer Lindsay Pugh, visual effects supervisor Dan Glass, and composers Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer. Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Jada Pinkett Smith reprise their roles from previous films in the series, and they are joined by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Christina Ricci.

"The Matrix" and what it has come to represent has firmly entrenched itself in the pop culture consciousness ever since the first movie's release in 1999. Fans adapted the aesthetic and spread quotes like wildfire, and "take the red pill" has taken on a life of its own (originally meaning waking up to a brutal truth, but since bafflingly hijacked by right-wingers to uphold their own status quo fears). It touched other genres immediately, as comedies fell over themselves to reapply bullet time. 

Whether you've seen the movies or not, you probably understand the uncanny feeling that comes with hearing someone observe "a glitch in the Matrix." Heck, if you attended the University of Washington in Seattle in the early aughts, you could even sign up for an introductory philosophy course that utilizes and complements the themes and subtext of the original film. Finally, the "Matrix" films contain an allegory for entire swaths of marginalized audiences, one that its trans creators intended from the very beginning

Sure, there's a tumble down a rabbit hole and a quest for knowledge, but it all comes from an Othered place that brings weight to its transformational arcs as its hero evolves from what he's told he is ... into the truly great person he's always been hiding. What an impact from a story and a universe entirely constructed from 1s and 0s. At the end of the video, Keanu sums up his feelings about it: 

"You'll hear the sentence, 'The Matrix' changed my life, so I say, 'Thank you; it changed mine, too.'"

"The Matrix Resurrections" arrives in theaters on December 22, 2021. It will also stream on the ad-free tier of HBO Max in the United States for a month, starting on the same date.