According to star Keanu Reeves, The Matrix Resurrections seems to be more fun than the original trilogy. The Wachowskis kickstarted the franchise in 1999 with The Matrix, which remains both beloved and influential, and two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, followed in 2003. After almost two decades, Lana Wachowski has returned as writer-director for the newest entry in the series, The Matrix Resurrections, which releases both in theaters and on HBO Max on December 22.
Unlike many reboots of once-popular IP, fans know little about what to expect from a new Matrix movie, and the marketing campaign has played into this fact. The first trailer for The Matrix Resurrections revealed a new life for Reeves’ Neo back inside the virtual-reality prison, despite the character’s sacrificial death at the end of the original trilogy, though he seemingly has no memory of his previous adventures. Synopses for the film have teased a stronger, more dangerous Matrix holding him captive, teasing another epic showdown, but potential viewers have been eager to discover more about what the final product will actually be like when it hits theaters.
According to a recent interview with EW, fans should prepare for a more openly fun Matrix movie this time around. Jessica Henwick, who plays the new character Bugs in The Matrix Resurrections, claims the project pursues a “new tone” that makes it more “joyous” than its predecessors, and Reeves seems to concur. The Canadian actor was “struck by how much humor is in it,” but reassures fans that it won’t stray too far from the style of the originals:
It’s throwing down the Matrix gauntlet again; it’s super smart, clever, entertaining, suspenseful, and funny.
The tone of the first Matrix film walked a difficult tightrope, managing to convey an intense sense of cool while pursuing moments that could easily have tipped over into ridiculousness, but the sequels were less successful at striking this balance. The Matrix Revolutions, in particular, was criticized as drifting into self-parody, resulting in a conclusion to the original story that many found unsatisfying. Pursuing a new tone that is more openly fun might remove some of that pressure to repeat the original’s recipe, while at the same time drawing closer to it than either of the two sequels.
However, while the Matrix movies are certainly fun to begin with, fans might be wary about The Matrix Resurrections being more explicit in embracing that quality. As writer-directors, the Wachowskis have proven divisive, embracing camp and excess in ways that have turned off some and inspired a devoted following from others. The footage released thus far has only managed to excite fans of the original, but should the film cultivate a tone closer to, say, 2008’s Speed Racer, reactions to The Matrix Resurrections could end up a lot more polarized than those to their 1999 modern classic.