The moment Matrix fans have been waiting for has finally arrived. The next chapter of Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus’ story is almost here and Warner Bros. has a trailer to prove it. It’s an action-packed first look at Resurrections, a sequel that seems to take the franchise in new directions, and introduces quite a few new mysteries to the already complex lore of The Matrix, all accompanied by Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.”
While it refreshingly plays things very close to the chest at a time when most trailers give away 2/3 of the plot, I’ve tried my best to dissect the trailer for some answers. But as you’ll find in the breakdown below, I’ve mostly been left with more questions and a few theories.
Before I get to it, have a look at the trailer if you haven’t already:
Okay, let’s enter the Matrix.
The Setting: Is this the Matrix or Machine Heaven?
This trailer is so disorienting, it’s unclear where this Matrix movie even takes place. These movies have always been multi-setting stories, between the big simulation, smaller programs, and the real world, but this movie’s setting is particularly vital information since it’ll explain what’s going on in some of the weirder parts of the trailer.
Our first glimpse of Neo’s life after the events of The Matrix Revolutions reveals he’s back in a simulation as Thomas Anderson, but is it the Matrix we know and love? Maybe. This idyllic city by the sea doesn’t really look like the dystopian, sprawling Mega City from the original trilogy.
You may have also noticed that the signature green tint is gone. There’s actually an explanation for that. When the Matrix was rebooted at the end of Revolutions, it came back online without the greenish hue, with Sati creating a beautiful, otherworldly sunrise (not unlike the one shining down on the bridge in the first picture) in tribute to Neo.
But there’s also the possibility that this is a completely different simulation all together. I’ve gone on about this in other articles, but I have a few theories as to where this movie takes place: 1) it’s set in the same version of the Matrix as the first three movies but rebooting the simulation meant tweaks to the city, 2) this is a completely new version of the Matrix created as a successor to the one from the original trilogy, 3) this isn’t the Matrix at all and is instead a separate digital world.
Hear me out on that last point: we watched Neo die in Revolutions, not as himself but after being assimilated by Smith. Becoming one with Smith allows the Machines to send a kill signal from the real world, deleting the rogue program once and for all. But where do programs go when they’re deleted? Reloaded refers to a vague place called “the Source,” which seems to be the central mainframe of the Machines. Programs marked for deletion are supposedly absorbed by the Source.
Since Neo died only after he turned into a Smith while in the Matrix, and his real-world body died in the Machine City, what if Neo’s digital form has somehow become stuck in some sort of “machine heaven” inside the Source? This theory doesn’t necessarily track with other shots of real-world Neo later in the trailer, but it could be a possible explanation for why there’s a different version of Morpheus in this movie and why Jonathan Groff’s character tells Neo at the end of the trailer that he’s going “back to the Matrix.”
Also, maybe this is just a wink at the audience, but at one point, Neo is fighting his way out of a place called “Deus Ex Machina.” This is a reference to the Machine leader who Neo brokered peace with in Revolutions. It doesn’t seem like an accident that it appears here. Perhaps the plot of the movie is that Neo is stuck in the Source and eventually he tries to find his way out?
Neo and the Blue Pill
Wherever Neo is, he doesn’t remember the events of the first three movies and has returned to his life as sad sack Thomas Anderson. But memories of his past life are starting to sneak their way back into his head.
We see him consulting a psychiatrist played by Neil Patrick Harris to see if he’s “crazy” but it’s clear that Neo will soon wake up and re-learn the truth about his past. But someone is trying to stop that from happening. We watch Neo take blue pills in front of a mirror (lots of mirrors in this). Since the blue pills symbolize ignorance of the truth, it’s likely that these pills are stopping Neo from regaining his memories and abilities. Neo ditches his prescription and opts for Morpheus’ red pill later in the trailer, though.
During the red pill sequence, it looks like Morpheus and his crew have found a way to play back Neo’s past for him on a projector. How this is possible beats me, but just go with it. This is likely when Neo fully wakes up.
This scene will eventually be interrupted by a trigger-happy SWAT team, of course. What an image.
How Are Neo and Trinity Back in the First Place?
Things are about to get more confusing. If Neo and Trinity are really back in the Matrix…how the hell is that even possible? After all, they both died in the real world, which is, you know, a major obstacle to overcome if you want to get plugged back in. Yet, we see them both in the real world, hooked back up to machines, although it’s unclear if they’re back at the power plant that powers Machine City or somewhere else. Above, you can see Trinity seemingly alive in the real world but back in the clutches of the Machines. Does that look like a pod, though?
The trailer does seem to tease that we’ll learn what happened to Neo’s body after Revolutions. Usually, humans are liquefied upon death to feed the rest of the crop, but Neo is no ordinary human. There are a few blink-and-you’ll-miss-it snapshots of the Machines doing something to Neo’s body, seemingly performing some sort of procedure. Neo’s eyes remain scorched from the events of Revolutions, as well.
All this implies some major, new Matrix lore could be introduced in this movie. Until now, the process through which the Machines grow humans has largely remained a mystery. We know they’re grown in pods and fed liquid human remains, but how do the Machines create these humans in the first place? And do their abilities extend far beyond growing new humans to power their city? What if the Machines also have the ability to bring the dead back to life as they seem to be doing with Neo and Trinity?
This also seems to support Cypher’s belief that the Machines could actually plug people back into the Matrix, something Trinity said wasn’t true in the original movie. Smith told Cypher that he would not only get plugged back in but that he wouldn’t remember anything about his miserable life in the real world. The Agents even promised him that they could give him a new, better life within the simulation. Cypher hoped to return as an important actor. This may be why Neo and Trinity don’t remember each other at first in the new movie.
Neo and Trinity’s Connection
Neo and Trinity’s connection is way too strong, though. They’ve brought each other back from the dead a couple of times, surely a little memory loss isn’t going to keep them apart for long. We watch them meet for “the first time” at a coffee shop — a place called “Simulatte,” as revealed by teaser footage released earlier this week — and then they’re back to kicking ass like the old days.
But it’s clear things have also changed. For example, there’s something weird going on with Trinity’s face, which seems to be bleeding…Matrix code? Does this mean this isn’t Trinity at all but a program designed to simulate her for Neo while he’s trapped in machine heaven? That doesn’t really add up with the fact that we also see Trinity alive in the real world. Maybe their digital selves are stuck in two different places and she’s actually back in the Matrix, while Neo’s in the Source? I’ll admit I can’t get any of my theories to line up perfectly just yet.
The trailer also teases new abilities for the duo. Particularly interesting is that they can now create some sort of energy wave when they touch.
Trinity can also send out a shockwave that can put SWAT teams on their ass. But wait, the reverberation reveals another face behind Trinity’s… Who is that and what’s happening here? Shoot me some thoughts in the comments!
Is that Hugo Weaving as Smith?!
Speaking of hidden faces, in both the trailer and earlier teaser footage, we learn that Neo’s reflection isn’t quite right. When he looks in the mirror, someone else sometimes looks back. We get the best look at that reflection in the scene where Morpheus offers Neo the red pill…and holy crap, is that Hugo Weaving’s face CGI’d onto Keanu’s head?! If it is, this could mean that a bit of Smith’s code still lingers inside Neo, which also supports the idea that Neo is stuck in the Source and not the Matrix.
Is it Morpheus’ mission to somehow get him out of there? Now that you mention Morpheus…
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus
Ladies and gentlemen, if you weren’t sure about the rumors before, we have confirmation: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is playing Morpheus in The Matrix Resurrections. But there’s something weird going on with Morpheus, too.
One shot from the trailer is particularly interesting. Morpheus is staring at himself in the mirror, condensation on the glass made to resemble Matrix code (“digital rain”) over his face. He looks intently into the mirror, noticing how its surface turns to liquid when he touches it.
So what’s going on here? The green hue of the scene confirms this is Abdul-Mateen inside of the simulation, but judging from his reaction to the mirror, he doesn’t seem aware that he’s in the Matrix. Morpheus looks genuinely surprised by this sudden glitch, something Laurence Fishburne would’ve taken in stride in the original trilogy. So does this mean this movie follows Morpheus before he was unplugged? Is this movie somehow a continuation of Neo and Trinity’s story but also a Morpheus origin story?
Well, maybe this is just a flashback because we later see Morpheus doing normal Morpheus stuff, like training with Neo in the sparring program.
(Like much in the trailer, the dojo seems to be a located in a place meant to evoke Alice in Wonderland.)
But we haven’t addressed the elephant in the room: why does Morpheus look completely different now if this movie seems to mostly take place after Revolutions when Morpheus looked a lot like Laurence Fishburne? Well, yes, it could be a simple recast, but this is also the universe that created whole lore about program re-skins when the Wachowskis were forced to recast the Oracle with Mary Alice after Gloria Foster’s death while filming the third movie. So there will likely be an explanation.
This could go back to one of my theories about the where this movie takes place. What if this is a continuation of Neo and Trinity’s story but in a new version of the Matrix? As the Architect once told Neo in The Matrix Reloaded, the Machines have created several versions of the simulation, tweaking things as needed to improve the program and make humanity more subservient. It’s an endless loop that has seen the heroes try to save Zion from the Machines several times before. The Matrix trilogy covered the Sixth Matrix.
We know that each version of the Matrix places someone in the role of “the One” in order to correct the anomaly in the program, but it wasn’t clear whether it was always someone named Neo. If that were the case, that could explain why there’s someone new in the Morpheus role, too. Perhaps the Sixth Matrix’s Neo and Trinity being in this potential seventh version is corrupting things, which is why the Machines are working to keep the duo from remembering their past. (But then why would the Machines have plugged them back in in the first place?) None of this makes sense!
Or is there a bigger twist behind all this?
In footage from the teasers released earlier this week, we see someone who looks like Abdul-Mateen’s Morpheus being formed from thousands of little particles expelled by some sort of machine. Are those supposed to be tiny nano bots, sort of like more advanced versions of the insect droids that formed Deus Ex Machina’s face in The Matrix Revolutions? Does that mean Morpheus was a machine or program all along?
That certainly would be quite the twist if true. What if Morpheus was a Machine sleeper agent, just another system of control all along — a “true believer” designed to rally Zion around the One in order for the Machines to more easily lead humanity through the loop that would eventually lead to the city’s destruction?
Yeah, that sounds a little far-fetched even for a Matrix movie. Maybe it’s just this version of Morpheus that’s a machine, created to jump start Neo’s journey after another faction has kept him hooked on the blue pill for years. What if this is a version of the Matrix where Thomas Anderson never got to make a choice in 1999 and has lived his life ignorant of his true purpose? In this scenario, maybe it would be the Machines themselves trying to wake up Neo. After all, without him completing his journey, the program can’t survive.
I’m giving myself a headache. Let’s move on.
Jessica Henwick as Bugs
According to Variety, Jessica Henwick’s blue-haired badass is named Bugs, which I assume is a nod to the tattoo of the white rabbit on her arm, another reference to Alice in Wonderland as well as the first Matrix movie. When Henwick was cast, it was reported that she would be playing a major role in the movie and that seems to be true.
We see her guiding Neo through a doorway to “the truth,” while later she’s running around with Morpheus, shooting at bad guys and doing A LOT of flips. It’s good to see there are going to be plenty of cool stunts in this movie.
Jonathan Groff as the Villain?
The trailer ends with who many are speculating is the villain of the movie: Jonathan Groff’s mysterious businessman who welcomes Neo (and fans) back to the Matrix. I’ve heard several theories so far, but my two favorite ones are that Groff is playing a new version of Smith or that he’s a new skin for the Architect. Whatever the case, he could be the one working to keep Neo hooked on the blue pill.
One interesting detail in the background is what looks like a “DM” logo desk plate. Is this another reference to “Deus Ex Machina?” Is it some sort of program-run company? It could also mean that Groff is playing Deus Ex Machina itself.
Another scene of note is the one where Neo is on his knees, a gun pointed at his head. We don’t see who exactly is holding the pistol. Is that Groff? I also just find it interesting how this scene kind of rhymes with the Morpheus scene from the first movie.
Priyanka Chopra, Brian Jacob Smith, and Max Riemelt
We get glimpses of other characters, too. There’s Priyanka Chopra’s character, who’s reading Alice in Wonderland when Neo drops by her shop.
Also appearing are Brian Jacob Smith and Max Riemelt, both stars of Sense8, the ensemble sci-fi series created by the Wachowskis. You can see Smith running around with Morpheus’ crew, while Riemelt has made a very bad choice and picked a fight with Neo.
The Real World
The movie will visit the real world, too. We see a Zion ship flying through underground tunnels. Teaser clips also confirmed we’ll meet at least one other crew in the movie. With Jada Pincket Smith set to reprise her role, could this be Niobe’s ship, Logos?
Meanwhile, the Machines are still all about renewable energy.
There’s also whatever this is supposed to be?
Agents Are Back
What’s a Matrix movie without Agents? We already know Daniel Bernhardt is reprising his role as Reloaded‘s Agent Johnson, but there are a few other Agents in the mix to give Neo, Trinity, Morpheus, and friends a very hard time.
Even Morpheus looks like he’s dressed like an Agent at one point!
There are a few other weird moments in this trailer worth highlighting. Judging from the way Morpheus and Bugs are somehow able to seemingly open portals in the simulation to stop themselves from going splat on the pavement during an action sequence where they jump out of a building, it looks like Resurrections is really going to mess with how the Matrix works, breaking all kinds of rules. It’s not just about jump from one skyscraper to the other anymore.
Morpheus and his squad seem to be able to travel through mirrors at will, too. It’s maybe their favorite form of transportation. (I don’t know who the person next to Bugs is as they walk through the mirror and into the restaurant.)
There’s also a very cool inverted hallway that defies the laws of gravity. Par for the course for the Matrix but cool just the same.
Lots of Action
As trippy as the sci-fi in The Matrix gets, this is an action franchise at its core, and the trailer promises the types of big action set pieces you’ve come to expect from these movies. That includes Neo stopping bullets and redirecting missiles with his mind! It definitely looks like the Neo we know and love will for sure be back in the One shape by the third act of this movie.
We also get a quick look at the motorcycle chase sequence that we first learned about through photos from the movie’s Mexico City set. Trinity speeds through the fiery streets, with Neo riding shotgun.
There’s also an action sequence inside a train. Bugs, Morpheus, and their squad run through the cars just as someone fires a rocket into the train. Should be a fun sequence.
Oh, and did I mention how well Abdul-Mateen fits into the role of Morpheus?
Let’s end on this, what might possibly end up being the coolest shot of the movie: Neo and Trinity taking a leap of faith.
Spot anything I missed? Let me know in the comments!
The Matrix Resurrections arrives in theaters and on HBO Max on Dec. 22.