Now that The Matrix Revolutions’ first trailer has been uploaded to the real-world internet that keeps our world humming, it’s time to break down Lana Wachowski’s vision for the next chapter of the Matrix franchise.
The film’s trailer opens on Jefferson Aeroplane’s “Go Ask Alice” playing beneath a shot of an impossibly picturesque hilltop looming before a cityscape as Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) sits down for a session with his therapist (Neil Patrick Harris). The conspicuous way the light in the scene catches the blue of the therapist’s glasses, and his use of the word “triggered” in response to Thomas’ description of his recent dreams land as both an unsubtle nod to The Matrix’s blue and red pills, and the cultural meaning that’s become attached to the latter.
Thomas’ “dreams that aren’t just dreams” — visions of a world where he can perceive the underlying digital code that shapes reality — make him question whether he’s losing his mind, or if the world he knows might be an illusion.
In a very quick series of cuts, the trailer shows glimpses of Thomas/Neo reaching to catch a bullet, and also his being awakened in the apocalyptic “real” world seen in the original Matrix trilogy where humans connected to the simulation unknowingly live their lives in tanks of goo as part of the machine power grid. A swarm of new, spider-like sentinels greets the newly-awakened Thomas/Neo in the trailer, heavily implying that Resurrections will pick up Neo’s story from the last film even though the Thomas we’re introduced to doesn’t at first seem to have any recollection of the Matrix.
The Matrix Revolutions ended with Neo brokering an unsteady truce between the Architect and the Oracle that meant an end to the war between humans and machines. While the rest of humanity was promised an opportunity to leave the Matrix if they chose, Neo’s lifeless body was taken away by the machines after his final battle against Agent Smith. Whether Neo ended up being plugged back into the Matrix is one of the more interesting questions looming over Resurrections, and the trailer makes and point of not definitively answering either way.
Tenuous as his grip on reality is, Thomas returns to his life of medicated mundanity that’s punctuated by a chance encounter with a woman (the returning Carrie-Ann Moss) who he can’t help but wonder if he knew in another life. Whether she herself is aware of her Trinity identity from the previous films is also unclear, though she feels the same sense of déjà vu after meeting Thomas.
Even though he continues to take the blue pills he’s prescribed, Thomas can’t help but take notice of odd phenomena around him, like a flock of birds arranging itself into the shape of the letter “o” or the number zero. Witnessing a group of youths staring into their phones on an elevator appears to be the thing that pushes him over the edge and makes him decide to stop taking his medication, pointing to The Matrix Resurrections attempting to incorporate themes of mental health conditions into its story. Whether or not this turn will land well with audiences remains to be seen, but it seems to play a crucial role in how Thomas sets himself on the path to discovering the truth about his dreams.
The trailer’s use of “Go Ask Alice” is timed just right to hammer home how rabbits (in addition to the black cat from the beginning of the trailer) signal to Thomas that his subconscious is trying to tell him something. Others, like the bookseller sporting red glasses (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) who gives Thomas a copy of Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass, a mysterious Morpheus cosplayer (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) who offers Thomas a red pill, and a blue-haired woman with a rabbit tattoo (Jessica Henwick) also seem to want to help Thomas see the light, literally and metaphorically.
After Thomas steps through a door of light and emerges on the other side from a semi-liquid mirror, the trailer shifts gears and reveals some key details about what’s going on.
Unlike the rest of the new faces around Thomas who can all move freely in this new chunk of the Matrix, Trinity’s shown to have green circuitry running through her body (notably, within the simulation it seems), establishing that she’s even more trapped within the simulation than she was before.
As nu-Morpheus challenges Thomas to a fight in a virtual dojo, he reasons that Trinity’s being stuck is the reason Thomas won’t give up on the Matrix, which may very well be the case, but Thomas doesn’t take the observation particularly well. The return to the dojo is likely to be one of the many callbacks to the original trilogy that Resurrections makes as it continues the franchise’s story and shows off what a modern VFX budget can do.
After Thomas destroys the dojo is a very Dragon Ball Z-like burst of energy that’s probably tied to his still being The One, there are brief glimpses of the real world where fields of pod-bound humans are still harvested for their energy. At some point in the film, Thomas and Trinity will find themselves standing atop a skyscraper and faced with the choice of leaping over the edge, and they won’t be the only people using buildings to play hopscotch.
Regardless of whether this is all in Thomas Anderson’s head, the deeper he gets into this latest chapter of The Matrix’s larger story, the more fiercely the system’s Agents led by Agent Johnson (Daniel Bernhardt) fight to stop him and his allies.
A lot of that fight is going to involve projectile explosives, apparently, and there’ll be yet another sequence where a Morpheus figure has to fight his way out of a building being flooded with water. There’s also what appears to be footage of Reeves’ Neo from the first film interjected in the background here.
Once Trinity has an awakening in her own Matrix pod-o-goo she’ll need to be ready to deal with all manner of gunfights and having rockets launched at her, but at this late stage in the game, that should all be old hat by now.
Though there are plenty of explosions set to swelling music, the trailer’s notably light on hand-to-hand combat sequences when it comes to the film’s villains, and it’s going to be very interesting to see what sort of tricks the Agents will whip out if they actually want to destroy the humans once and for all.
Amnesiac or not, Thomas can still stop bullets, and deflect the missles the Agents have gotten comfortable shooting at people. The light seen emanating from him throughout the trailer is featured one last time as he makes physical contact with Trinity, suggesting that their connection may be the key to their escaping the Matrix once again.
Thomas, understandably, wants out of the digital hell he’s been trying to escape for good, and the trailer strongly implies that in order to do that, he and Trinity will have to take another leap of faith from the top of a skyscraper. From the looks of things, the biggest thing standing in the way of them accomplishing that goal might be Mindhunter star Jonathan Groff. The all-black wardrobe Groff’s character sports in the trailer’s final scene — a tense conversation between him and Thomas — may point to him being Resurrections’ answer to the original Architect.
Alternatively, he could just be an associate of Thomas’ who’s simply tired of hearing his rants about red pills unlocking his mind and the secret world beneath the world that everybody needs to wake up and recognise. There are an infinite number of directions Resurrections could end up going when it hits theatres on January 1, 2022, and for the time being, all there is to do is wonder which path the film will take.