It’s been almost two decades since the last MatrixFilm, moviegoers will now be ready to plug in again and question the reality of what they see. Resurrections by The MatrixThe fourth movie, ‘Live-action Movie 4 in the Action Series, will be available on HBO Max and theaters Dec. 22. It is directed by Lana Wachowski. She was also part of the filmmaking sibling team that made the previous three films. Keanu Reeves returns to the film, as well as Carrie Anne Moss and Patrick Harris. There are also many new stars such Yahya Abdul Maten II, Jonathan Groff, Jessica Henwick, and Jessica Harris.
The trailers suggest that the movie will be a meta, trippy reexamination on the original trilogy. And it’s likely it will have plenty of new commentary about the symbolism with which the original movies have been imbued—both by People on the InternetAnd by Filmmakers themselves—in the decades since their release. That original trilogy came out a long time ago, though, so you’d be forgiven for needing a refresher on what went down in those movies, as well as a quick primer on any other MatrixBefore you see, here are some -related resources that may be useful. Resurrections. To paraphrase Agent Smith, what good is a sequel… if you are unable to remember what happened?
Was there anything that happened in the Matrix original movie?
While the Matrix’s basic concept is not complicated, its sequels have added layers. The titular Matrix is what we humans think is our “reality.” The truth, in the movies, is that we are all living in a computer simulation. The very machines that we built long ago led to humanity losing a battle. Our last-ditch effort to blot out the sun to deprive the machines of solar power didn’t save us, but it did force the machines to keep humanity around and harvest their bodies for power while keeping our minds active inside the Matrix. (Never mind that human bodies require power and don’t just generate it so they can’t be used as a battery. Suspend your disbelief.)
This history is briefly retold in the first. MatrixThis film was originally released in 1999. You can see its full effect by watching the video below. Second Renaissance, a two-part segment in The Animatrix, an anthology film produced by the Wachowskis that came out ahead of 2003’s Reloaded. Rest of the AnimatrixIt’s fine. Second RenaissanceIt is very good and extremely disturbing, adding a lot to the context of the series. You can stream it, as well as all other movies on HBO Max.
Neo (Reeves), an apparently normal person with a knack for hacking, is introduced in the first film. Trinity (Moss), Morpheus and Lunce Fishburne are among his friends. These are known cybercriminals from the Matrix world, but they are also members of the Human Resistance against Machines in the Real World. They Offer him the Red Pill to free Neo from his Matrix. They are now in the real world and operate out of a ship called Nebuchadnezzar. This is one of several resistance ships with their own crew. Morpheus then explains what reality looks like.
They are part of a group of resistance fighters who are trying to free humanity from the Matrix and the Machines’ clutches. To do this, they can log back into the Matrix and use their knowledge that it’s all just a simulation to “break” the program’s rules, becoming super strong, fast or agile. And, they can simply download information into their brains, prompting Neo to announce that he “knows Kung-Fu.” While inside the Matrix, the number one thing they need to watch out for are Agents—programs that exist to hunt down anomalies or invaders such as themselves. Neo has a special rival, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving).
Morpheus believes that Neo is “The One,” a person prophesied by The Oracle (a helpful humanlike computer program within the Matrix played by Gloria Foster in the first two movies and Mary Alice in the third) who will be able to end the war against the machines once and for all. Neo is able to live up to the prophecy, saving Morpheus’ life and defeating Agent Smith—the first time anybody has ever gone toe-to-toe with an Agent and lived.
Was there anything that happened during the Matrix 2 sequels?
The Matrix ReloadedNeo is becoming more powerful but the Matrix and real world are grim. In the real world, the Machine army is bearing down on Zion, the only “real” human city, located deep, deep underground. They are so numerous that humanity is unable to stop them. In the Matrix we discover that Agent Smith has not been destroyed but rather changed. No longer an Agent serving the Machine’s agenda, Smith has gone rogue and has become a self-replicating virus who is turning the inhabitants of the Matrix into copies of himself. In an effort to fulfill the prophecy before the Machine army wipes out Humanity, Neo eventually meets a program known as the Architect (Helmut Bakaitis), who reveals the horrible truth: Neo isn’t the first One. He’s the sixth, and the entire prophecy is a sort of failsafe that allows the Machines to keep humans alive in the Matrix so long as they have the potential to reject its unreality. Neo’s role isn’t to end the war, it’s to start the cycle over again.
However, Neo refuses, instead opting to save Trinty’s life because he loves her more than he loves the idea of “saving” humanity—both in the Matrix and, in a way, in real life—by playing along with the Machines’ plan. The movie ends with the Machine army bearing down on Zion and Neo in a coma because he was able to stop some Machines from attacking them while still in the real world—something that shouldn’t be possible because he’s not plugged into the Matrix. However, he’s not alone. Smith managed to infect a Red-Pilled human serving on another ship before he logged out of the Matrix, meaning Neo’s mortal enemy is now in the real world and nobody has any idea.
The Matrix RevolutionsThe movie, which was released in 2003, opens with Neo in an uneasy limbo, trapped between the Matrix and real life. However, Trinity and Morpheus are able free him. They split when they were back in the real-world. Neo believes he must travel to the Machines’ headquarters so off he goes, accompanied by Trinity. Morpheus and another ship of Red-Pilled humans (including Jada Pinkett Smith’s Niobe) They must hurry back to Zion as they were unable to complete their previous mission. They hope that their ship’s electronics-frying electromagnetic pulse can halt the Machine advance. There’s a pretty spectacular battle, but Morpheus and co. arrive just in time to defeat the Machines’ first wave. It’s only a temporary victory, as the humans are so worn out from the initial defense that a Machine victory seems imminent once they show up with reinforcements—unless Neo can pull off some sort of miracle.
Smith sneaks aboard the ship and attacks Neo and Trinity. Neo kills Smith in flesh and blood, but Smith blinds him using a long electrical cable. Neo can still “see” the machines, though, as he’s somehow still tapped into their code. Their ship crashes and Trinity dies, but they make it to Machine city. Despite the loss, Neo reaches the Machine leader and cuts a deal: Smith has taken over every single person and program inside the Matrix, meaning the Machine’s energy source is in danger. Neo must defeat Smith to stop the Machines’ attack on Zion. The Machines are ready for peace. Neo battles Smith but realizes he can’t beat him in a straight fight, and so he allows his nemesis to infect him, a seemingly fatal decision—and in doing so, gives the Machines the direct access they need to purge Smith, since Neo is logged into the Matrix through them.
Humanity is saved and the Machines say they’ll make good on their promise, sparing Zion and offering everybody the choice to leave the Matrix. Talking with the Architect, she revealed that the Oracle orchestrated this whole thing, making a large gamble on Neo. Luckily, it worked out, and there’s the promise of an actual, lasting peace… Well, at least until The Matrix: Resurrections.
Where did we go?
It’s a little hard to do a full table-setting for Resurrections because the nature of the Matrix—not to mention what little we know about the premise of the upcoming film—means things can be very different from what we remember and we’ll only know why when the movie explains it to us in due time. Trinity was, in fact, killed in real life. RevolutionsYet, Moss remains one of the most beloved stars in Hollywood. Reloaded. Instead of speculating on why or how characters got to where they are, Resurrections, here’s a brief reminder of where we left off.
Peace has been achieved by machines and humans. Zion will continue to exist. The Matrix’s inhabitants will still have the right to choose to move to the real world. Whether this peace can last is another story—but such a peace probably wouldn’t offer much fodder for a 2.5-hour movie so it seems unlikely.
Trinity is now dead. Neo is presumably dead, as he’s last seen allowing Smith to infect him before the Machine leader uses his plugged-in body as a conduit to purge Smith. His limp body is taken offscreen by Machines. It’s not clear what will happen afterward. Smith is dead, as far as we know, and Weaving isn’t returning to reprise the role. Neo met Saati as a young girl in the Matrix and they became friends. The new film will feature an older version, withPriyanka Chopra Jonas playing it. Morpheus who will make an appearance in Resurrections where he’ll be played by Abdul-Mateen rather than Fishburne for reasons that will be revealed, was alive and well in Zion when the film trilogy ended.
We specify “when the film trilogy ended” because Morpheus actually died in a sequel video game that may or may not still be part of the series canon. In the early ‘00s, the MatrixThe idea of having a franchise that can be used on multiple platforms was embraced by franchises, which led to such things as The AnimatrixThis featured segments which directly kicked off events in Reloaded. The Matrix OnlineThe official continuation was provided by, an now-defunct online game, which came out in 2005. In the game, Morpheus becomes something of a terrorist leader who antagonizes the Machines because they haven’t returned Neo’s body to the humans despite the peace agreement. Morpheus is ultimately killed by a programmed assassin, and if there was more to his story we won’t know, as the game was canceled in 2009.
If—and this is a big if—the events of The Matrix Online are canon, it seems like a safe bet that Warner Bros. won’t make having played this comparatively niche video game a prerequisite to understanding what’s happening in their newest blockbuster. Whatever’s going on with Morpheus and his recasting will be explained within the runtime of Reloaded.This ethos should be extended to all viewers. Resurrections All the mystery it created will be solved.
What has changed? outsideWhat is the Matrix?
As mentioned earlier, it has been nearly two decades since the last Matrix movie, though that’s not for lack of trying. Warner Bros. asked Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski repeatedly to produce another installment in their profitable franchise. But they kept refusing. It wasn’t until much more recently when Lana Wachowski, Be prompted by griefA brilliant idea inspired her to return to Neo and Trinity.
Lilly Wachowski turned down an invitation to the fourth. Matrix movie alongside her sister, making this the first film in the franchise—and the Wachowskis’ greater filmography—to have only one half of the sibling duo at the helm.
James Grebey is an entertainment journalist who edits features for SYFY WIRE, writes on occasion for Vulture, Polygon, GQ, Decider and more, and tweets dumb photoshopped jokes on Twitter, where he’s @jgrebes.