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21st Aug 2019

Now is the perfect time for a new Matrix film

Wil Jones

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are officially returning for The Matrix 4, with Lana Wachowski directing

Back in the summer of 1999, there was one sci-fi action movie that everyone was getting themselves ridiculously excited about. That film turned out to be The Phantom Menace. We all know how that turned out.

However, the real era-defining movie of that summer would be another sci-fi film, but not one with the full power of the hype-train behind it. Instead, it was a movie no one had really paid attention to, from a sibling-directing duo whose only other film was a lesbian-themed neo-noir called Bound, and starred Keanu Reeves. That film, was of, course, The Matrix.

Now, two decades later, Variety is reporting that Lana Wachowski will return to direct The Matrix 4, with both Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, with filming set to start early next year. And honestly, the timing couldn’t be better.

It would be fair to say that The Matrix brand has been sullied for a while. Following the original movie’s critical and commercial success, The Wachowskis chose to follow it up not with one sequel, but instead two shot back-to-back, as well as a video game and an anime anthology, all of which included important plot points that made the sequels movies difficult to understand on their own. Reloaded at least has that sick-as-fuck freeway chase, but Revolutions was turgid and incoherent, and basically killed any notion that The Matrix could become the millennial Star Wars dead in the water.

But now, over fifteen years removed from The Matrix Revolutions, the dust has settled. The original film returned to cinemas earlier this year, with it being reappraised for the tight, thrilling, and uniquely stylised action movie it is (sure, it might borrow liberally from William Gibson, Shirou Masamune and Jet Li movies, but it blends all its influence into something completely its own).

For a while, its biggest influence on culture was the combination of skin-tight leather and slow-mo backflips that plagued 2000s action movies like Underworld and Resident Evil – or maybe that one kid in every sixth-form that really thought he could pull off a long trench coat (and definitely couldn’t). But in the 2010s, The Matrix took on a new cultural significance.

Most infamously, it inadvertently birthed the ‘Red Pill’ metaphor beloved of the alt-right and men’s rights movement – that those converted online were being shown the ‘real world’. Yet this was also turned on its head when both the Wachowskis came out as trans women.

Previously, The Matrix could have been easily shuffled into the turn-of-the-century trope that included Fight Club and American Beauty, movies that saw a reasonably-affluent white male protagonists react violently to their comfortable-yet-boring existence – movies that have not aged all that well in the two decades of economic uncertainty that followed.

But now, some have read The Matrix as a parable for a trans experience, and a feeling of being unable to express one’s true self in society. There’s a lot to unpack there, and prime potential to examine the material – and reclaim the movie from a load of dickheads on the internet.

However, maybe the biggest reason why you’d be totally down for a new Matrix in 2019 is simple: Keanu Reeves. When The Matrix came out in 1999, Keanu was definitely an A-list star, with Bill & Ted, Point Break and Speed all under his belt. But he was seen as somewhat of a joke. An airhead who went ‘Woooahhh!’ unironically, and basically just Ted Logan IRL.

Fast forward to 2019. Keanu Reeves is now an international treasure, and the John Wick movies have saved action movies. He has starred in meme after meme after meme.  He is a lovely person, who makes us cry, and he does his own stunts.

Along with the upcoming Bill & Ted Face The Music, a fourth Matrix can be the victory lap Keanu deserves, now that everyone loves him. And that alone is worth it.