Does The Matrix Resurrections take place in a world where “The Matrix” was just a movie, and Keanu Reeves is playing the man who starred in it? First announced in 2019, Matrix 4 (now officially titled The Matrix Resurrections) sparked endless curiosity among fans of the Wachowski sisters’ new millennium sci-fi classic. How would Neo and Trinity return? Why wasn’t Laurence Fishburne among the returning cast? Who would be the villain after Neo struck a truce between humans and Machines? The first Matrix Resurrections trailer went some way toward answering these questions, but anyone who claims to have figured out the full plot is either a liar or a Warner Bros. employee.
Most have naturally assumed The Matrix Resurrections is a sequel set sometime after 2003’s trilogy-ending The Matrix Revolutions, and those close to production have gently encouraged this line of thinking. The original trilogy dropped breadcrumbs for future films (the Oracle promising Neo would return, for instance), and “The Matrix 4” was widely used among media outlets prior to the official title reveal. Looking closer at the trailer, however, there’s nothing whatsoever to prove The Matrix Resurrections is a straight sequel continuing the established narrative.
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Anything is possible at this point – sequel, semi-reboot, part-prequel, The Office-style docuseries. But what if The Matrix Resurrections is a meta story set in our world, where “The Matrix” was a movie released in 1999? As crazy as it sounds, clues and signs contained within The Matrix Resurrections’ trailer point toward exactly that.
The Matrix Resurrections Doesn’t Follow The Original Trilogy’s Ending At All
Marrying up The Matrix Revolutions’ ending to the new Matrix Resurrections trailer footage is damn near impossible. There’s no sign of Neo’s truce, barely any acknowledgement of events from the past 3 movies, and none of the returning characters look or act how we remember them. Aside from the suspicious amount of recreated shots from 1999’s The Matrix (more on what those could mean later), only a single scene gives any sense of The Matrix Resurrections being a sequel – during Thomas’ therapy session, we get a lightning-fast image possibly depicting Machines as they revive a blind Neo, which would follow straight from the third film’s finale.
As if that wasn’t curious enough, The Matrix Resurrections’ official synopsis describes a “continuation of the story established in the first MATRIX film.” While Lana Wachowski might’ve simply retconned the previous Matrix sequels because they weren’t very good, this super-vague line can also be interpreted as proof The Matrix Resurrections doesn’t exist within the original trilogy’s continuity whatsoever.
That Lana Wachowski returned to The Matrix at all is somewhat surprising, but her decision would make more sense if the fourth Matrix film wasn’t a conventional sequel. A self-referential, meta twist on the core Matrix concept would be far more fulfilling creatively and, therefore, more likely to tempt Lana back. Warner Bros., meanwhile, would be giddy enough about getting another Matrix movie to let Lana go in whatever crazy direction she saw fit.
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The Matrix Resurrections certainly doesn’t look like a regular follow-up, but with the same actors, there’s still some connection between the new film and past Matrix movies…
Keanu Reeves & Carrie-Anne Moss Play Actors From “The Matrix”
Consider this: The Matrix Resurrections takes place in real-world 2021, where a movie called “The Matrix” (very similar to the one we all know, love and remember) released 22 years prior.
Our first clue is Keanu Reeves’ character, whose therapist refers to as “Thomas.” Fans will naturally guess this is Thomas Anderson, Neo’s alter ego before being freed from the Matrix, but since his surname is never spoken it’s impossible to be sure. Intriguingly, this new Thomas shares precious little in common with Thomas Anderson, who worked in an office, rented a small, dingy apartment, and hacked computers in his spare time. The Matrix Resurrections’ Thomas owns a swanky, modern apartment, and though trailer footage shows him moving through daily life, his actual occupation is conspicuously omitted. Rather than Thomas Anderson the hacker, The Matrix Resurrections’ Thomas could be an actor – the star of “The Matrix” who went on to enjoy a successful big screen career, hence the nice clothes, up-market apartment, and expensive therapist.
Carrie-Anne Moss’ character (who hasn’t yet been named in any official sense), is serving Keanu Reeves at a coffee shop, and there’s a flicker of recognition between the two. Fans assume this spark represents Neo and Trinity remembering they were once in love. Instead, what if Thomas is vaguely remembering the barista as his co-star on “The Matrix?” Moss is playing an actress who starred alongside Thomas, but her career didn’t enjoy the same upwards trajectory, explaining the coffee shop job. Not only would this explain Thomas struggling to recall his former co-star, but their differing paths create a meta commentary on Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss’ post-Matrix careers in real life.
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Why Laurence Fishburne Isn’t Morpheus
The Matrix Resurrections’ trailer gives us bullet time, superhuman powers, morphing Agents, and wacky mirrors – all of which prove the story takes place inside a simulation created by Machines that have enslaved humanity. The Matrix Resurrections’ main plot could be Thomas, 20 years after starring as the hero of “The Matrix,” suspecting the film was actually true, and the world around him really is false. He visits a therapist and begins taking pills, terrified he’s going crazy, but eventually follows the white rabbit and meets people from the real world who confirm his suspicions, one of whom is Morpheus.
This neatly addresses why Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is (probably) playing Morpheus instead of Laurence Fishburne. Abdul-Mateen is the real Morpheus. Fishburne was just the actor who portrayed Morpheus as another member of the in-universe “The Matrix” cast alongside Thomas and Carrie-Anne Moss’ character. A Matrix Resurrections cameo from Fishburne, playing himself, would be most welcome if this theory proved true.
Jessica Henwick’s blue-haired The Matrix Resurrections badass has a similar role to Trinity from the original movie, guiding Neo toward the truth and mercilessly beating up Agents along the way. Perhaps Henwick is the real Trinity, who Carrie-Anne Moss’s barista played back in the day.
The Reused 1999 Scenes Are Neo’s On-Set Memories
The Matrix Resurrections already includes an abnormal amount of carbon-copy images from the original 1999 film. Trinity sitting by a phone, Neo waking up in his pod, the white rabbit, sparring with Morpheus in a dojo, choosing between brightly-colored pills, etc. For The Matrix Resurrections to put such effort toward perfectly recreating old scenes is decidedly odd. If these were mere flashbacks, surely the original footage would be used.
Related: The Matrix Resurrections Trailer Supports Fake Trinity Theory
These shots could all derive from Thomas’ recollections of filming “The Matrix” at the start of his movie career. As the actor begins to suspect his world is truly a simulation, Thomas reexamines his experience on “The Matrix,” wondering whether he’s losing his mind or whether he should’ve pieced the clues together sooner. Thomas would replay specific scenes in his head, but since The Matrix Resurrections views these through his perspective, everything looks slightly different to how we viewers remember it – like how a movie scene always appears unrecognizable in a behind-the-scenes documentary compared to the finished product.
Jonathan Groff’s Villain Is A Movie Studio Exec
One of the biggest clues pointing toward The Matrix Resurrections being a movie within a movie comes during the trailer’s closing moments. The mystery man played by Jonathan Groff makes no attempt to hide his antagonistic alignment, but while some have suggested Groff might be playing a new Agent Smith or The Architect, his character could actually be the boss of a major movie studio. The key here is a certain line spoken to Thomas – “going back to where it all started… back to The Matrix.” Again, the audience would assume Groff is talking about Neo being reinserted into the Matrix simulation here. Instead, he could mean Thomas the actor returning to where his career began.
The Matrix Resurrections’ placing a movie studio executive into the main villain role is exactly the kind of meta stunt Lana Wachowski is prone to pulling, and Groff’s fancy top floor office only strengthens the theory. Also notice how he says “back to The Matrix” rather than “back into The Matrix.” This slight detail suggests Groff isn’t talking about Neo reentering a simulation. Turning the meta-meter to 11, Groff’s movie mogul character might even pressure Thomas to reprise his most famous role in a brand new “The Matrix” film, mirroring how Warner Bros. has continuously explored the potential for more sequels over the past 20 years.
Why Would The Matrix Contain A Film Revealing The Truth?
If we really did all exist within a simulated world as slaves of a dominant Machine race, why would that very simulation include a movie explaining the truth in painstaking detail? Surely it’s wiser to keep the populace ignorant, rather than giving folk crazy ideas about Matrixes, Morpheus and Machines? Strangely, the answer could lie with UFO conspiracy theorists…
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Those who save their tin foil strictly for wrapping food often ask conspiracy theorists why any government actively hiding the existence of extra-terrestrials would allow alien-themed movies in the media. Wouldn’t men in black suits rather quash any notion of little green men visiting Earth altogether? The theorists counter, arguing that fictional aliens in mainstream media emboldens the lie, persuading people that UFOs are simple fantasy, thereby deterring them from pursuing the truth.
Applying that concept to The Matrix Resurrections, the Machines’ simulation might contain “The Matrix” movie chiefly to trick mankind into believing the truth is too ridiculous to be real. The most effective way to convince people Morpheus doesn’t exist is telling them Morpheus is a fictional character in a science fiction movie. Jonathan Groff’s studio exec could even be a program – like Smith or The Keymaker – created by the Machines to steer humanity away from freedom through the power of film.
Turning The Matrix into a movie within a movie would inevitably prove divisive. For some, it’d mean the entire original trilogy never actually happened. Another perspective, however, is that The Matrix Resurrections’ meta approach could preserve the sanctity of previous films. Rather than risk ruining the beloved 1999 classic with a modern continuation (a feat even the likes of Star Wars and Blade Runner have struggled to execute), the Matrix trilogy would exist independently, with The Matrix Resurrections providing a meta commentary that can either broaden fans’ minds like the Red Pill, or be ignored entirely like the Blue Pill.
More: Matrix Resurrections Trailer Breakdown – 39 Reveals, Secrets & Story Details
The Matrix Resurrections (2021)Release date: Dec 22, 2021
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Craig first began contributing to Screen Rant in 2016, several years after graduating college, and has been ranting ever since, mostly to himself in a darkened room. Having previously written for various sports and music outlets, Craig’s interest soon turned to TV and film, where a steady upbringing of science fiction and comic books finally came into its own.
Craig has previously been published on sites such as Den of Geek, and after many coffee-drenched hours hunched over a laptop, part-time evening work eventually turned into a full-time career covering everything from the zombie apocalypse to the Starship Enterprise via the TARDIS.
Since joining the Screen Rant fold, Craig has been involved in breaking news stories and mildly controversial ranking lists, but now works predominantly as a features writer.
Jim Carrey is Craig’s top acting pick and favorite topics include superheroes, anime and the unrecognized genius of the High School Musical trilogy.
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