The Matrix Resurrections
The Matrix Resurrections is a 2021 American science fiction action film produced, co-written, and directed by Lana Wachowski. It is the sequel to The Matrix Revolutions (2003) and the fourth installment in The Matrix film series. Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Lambert Wilson, and Jada Pinkett Smith reprise their roles from previous films in the series, being joined by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Christina Ricci. The film was produced by Village Roadshow Pictures and Venus Castina Productions and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.
Following the release of Revolutions, the Wachowskis denied the possibility of another Matrix film, having intended the third film to be the trilogy’s conclusion, though rumors emerged since then about a possible fourth Matrix film and the studio constantly expressed interest in reviving the franchise, hiring Zak Penn to write a new screenplay after the Wachowskis refused every offer to create more sequels. In late 2019, a fourth Matrix film was finally announced, with Lana Wachowski returning as director without her sister, and Reeves and Moss reprising their roles. Filming started in February 2020 but was halted the next month by the COVID-19 pandemic. Wachowski toyed with the possibility of shelving the project and leaving the film unfinished, but the cast insisted that she finish it. Filming resumed in August 2020, concluding three months later.
The Matrix Resurrections had its world premiere in Toronto, Canada on December 16, 2021, and is scheduled to be released by Warner Bros. Pictures theatrically in other countries on December 22, 2021. It will also stream digitally on the ad-free tier of HBO Max in the United States for a month beginning on that same date.
The Matrix Resurrections
While making the Matrix films, the Wachowskis told their close collaborators that they, at the time, had no intention of making another film in the series after The Matrix Revolutions (2003). Instead, they gave their blessing to the notion of gamers “inherit[ing] the storyline”, and The Matrix Online video game was billed as the official continuation. Rumors of a new installment began to circulate online in 2011 when it was reported that the Wachowskis had been planning two additional films in the series and had discussions with Keanu Reeves about reprising his role. Another rumor in 2014 claimed that the sisters had submitted a story treatment for a new Matrix trilogy to Warner Bros. These were later confirmed to be false.
In February 2015, in interviews promoting Jupiter Ascending (2015), Lilly Wachowski called a return to The Matrix (1999) a “particularly repelling idea in these times” when studios preferred to green-light sequels, reboots, and adaptations over original material, while Lana Wachowski, addressing rumors about a potential reboot, said they had not heard anything but believed the studio might be looking to replace them. At various times, Keanu Reeves and Hugo Weaving each confirmed their interest and willingness to reprise their roles in potential future installments of the Matrix films, with the stipulation that the Wachowskis were involved in the creative and production process.
In March 2017, The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Warner Bros. was in the early stages of developing a relaunch of the franchise, with Zak Penn in talks to write a treatment, and interest in getting Michael B. Jordan attached to star. The Wachowskis were not involved at that stage, although the studio had hoped for their blessing. The notion of a reboot or remake was denounced by Penn, and ideas for stories set in the already established universe were explored, including, reportedly, a prequel film about a young Morpheus or a sequel film from a descendant of his. In March 2018, Penn said he was working on a revival of the franchise and teased the possibility of an expanded universe. Penn clarified in October 2019 that he had been working on one of two Matrix projects at Warner Bros., and that his work was separate from the planned film. Penn’s film didn’t go ahead in favor of Wachowski’s film; Jada Pinkett Smith later reflected that handing the franchise’s legacy to other filmmakers would have been a “horrendous mistake”.
Reeves and Moss were confirmed to be reprising their roles as Neo and Trinity upon the film’s announcement in August 2019. In October 2019, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II was cast in the film, with some sources speculating he would be playing a young Morpheus, while Neil Patrick Harris was added in an undisclosed role. Following the first trailer’s release, Abdul-Mateen II confirmed that he was indeed playing the role of Morpheus. Laurence Fishburne, who portrayed Morpheus in the original trilogy, announced in August 2020 that he was not asked to reprise his role as Morpheus. Pinkett Smith entered negotiations to reprise her role as Niobe, with Jessica Henwick entering negotiations to join in an undisclosed role, later revealed as Bugs. Henwick was being considered by The Walt Disney Company to audition for a role in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) at the same time she was offered to audition for the part of Bugs; in what she described a “red-pill/blue-pill moment” for her, Henwick chose Resurrections over Shang-Chi. Jada Pinkett-Smith and Jessica Henwick were confirmed in December, along with the additions of Jonathan Groff and Toby Onwumere;
In January 2020, Eréndira Ibarra was cast, with Priyanka Chopra entering final negotiations. That same month, Lambert Wilson, who played the Merovingian in the sequels, revealed he was in negotiations to return. Hugo Weaving, who starred in the franchise as Agent Smith, was originally approached to reprise his role, but he had scheduling conflicts with his involvement in Tony Kushner’s theatrical adaptation of The Visit, leading Wachowski to conclude that the dates would not work after staying in touch with Weaving for a while. Weaving was later confirmed to be appearing in the film, but through archive footage from the original trilogy, while Groff was confirmed to have been cast as Smith in December 2021, replacing Weaving. Chopra and Wilson’s castings were confirmed in February, along with the additions of Andrew Caldwell, Brian J. Smith and Ellen Hollman. After some speculation, Chopra was revealed to be playing Sati in the film; the character was previously portrayed by Tanveer K. Atwal in Revolutions.
Joe Pantoliano, who appeared in the first film as Cypher, expressed interest in April 2020 in reprising his role despite his character’s death in the first installment and messaged Lana Wachowski about the possibility of bringing him back, but received no response from her. In September 2020, it was announced Daniel Bernhardt was reprising his role as Agent Johnson from The Matrix Reloaded (2003). Christina Ricci was announced as part of the cast in June 2021; she had previously worked with the Wachowskis on Speed Racer (2008). Telma Hopkins was also announced to be part of the cast in September 2021. In December 2021, less than a week before the film’s premiere, Henwick confirmed to have filmed a scene with a background cameo appearance of Tom Hardy, as Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021) was being filmed simultaneously with Resurrections, though it’s currently unclear if Hardy’s appearance was kept in the finished film.
- Keanu Reeves as Thomas Anderson / Neo
- Carrie-Anne Moss as Tiffany / Trinity
- Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus: An alternate version of the hacker who freed Neo from the Matrix. The character was portrayed by Laurence Fishburne in the previous films; Fishburne’s version of the character appears through the use of archive footage.
- Jessica Henwick as Bugs: A blue-haired gunslinger with a White Rabbit tattoo. Henwick describes her character as “the audience’s eyes”.
- Jonathan Groff as Smith: Thomas’s business partner and Neo’s former arch-nemesis and Agent of the Matrix. He has an eye for the bottom line. The character was portrayed by Hugo Weaving in the previous films; Weaving also appears as Smith through the use of archive footage.
- Neil Patrick Harris as The Analyst: Thomas’s therapist, who works closely with his patient to understand the meaning behind his dreams and to distinguish them from reality.
- Priyanka Chopra Jonas as Sati: An exile program created without a purpose who met Neo shortly before the end of the Machine War. The character was portrayed by Tanveer K. Atwal in The Matrix Revolutions (2003).
- Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe: A human General and former Captain of the hovercraft Logos. Smith reprises her role from the previous two films.
- Lambert Wilson as The Merovingian: A self-professed trafficker of information who encountered Neo prior to the end of the Machine War and who has a long-standing grudge against the Oracle. Wilson reprises his role from the previous two films.
- Daniel Bernhardt as Agent Johnson: An Agent of the Matrix. Bernhardt reprises his role from The Matrix Reloaded (2003).
- Eréndira Ibarra as Lexy
- Max Riemelt as Shepherd
- Brian J. Smith as Berg
- Toby Onwumere as Sequoia
Additionally, Christina Ricci, Telma Hopkins, Ellen Hollman and Andrew Caldwell have been cast in undisclosed roles. Tom Hardy filmed an uncredited background cameo appearance, due to The Matrix Resurrections filming in San Francisco simultaneously with Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021), in which Hardy starred as Eddie Brock / Venom. However, Henwick speculates whether Hardy’s appearance remained in the final cut or not.
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