As if The Matrix series wasn’t already tricky enough to follow in the four year span the original trilogy was released in, adding a massive 18-year gap between those films and the next certainly doesn’t make it any easier. Following the release of The Matrix Revolutions in 2003, we now have a first look at the next film installment in the series and while it’s incredibly exciting, there sure seems to be some confusion around it, whether that confusion being why is Lana Wachowski the only sibling returning to the project, or why is Keanu Reeves’ character, Neo aka Thomas Anderson, even alive. So, for those of you who are completely stoked to see the extremely long-awaited The Matrix Resurrections, but are finding yourselves a bit, well, lost, here’s a little recap to help you out a bit.
So, what happened at the end of The Matrix Revolutions?
At the end of The Matrix Revolutions, Neo and Trinity board Niobe’s (Jada Pinkett Smith) ship, the Logos, and make their way to the Machine City in an attempt to put an end to the war between man and machine. However, Neo and Trinity are inevitably ambushed by one of Agent Smith’s assimilated fighters, Bane, who ends up blinding Neo with an exposed power cable during their fight. Ultimately, this allows Neo to discover he has what is essentially a “third eye” that allows him to see source code in the real world, thus allowing his to see enough to defeat Bane.
However, this doesn’t mark the end of Neo and Trinity’s problems. As the Logos makes its way into the Machine City, it is attacked by the city’s defenses, and while the ship manages to make it into the stronghold, Trinity is killed in the process. After mourning his loss, Neo goes on ahead to meet with the machine’s leader, and proposes a truce between human and machines on the condition that he will put an end to their mutual enemy: Agent Smith, a program created by the machines they could no longer control.
The machines agree to Neo’s terms and allow him into the matrix, assisting him in his final mission of sacrificing himself in order to assimilate with Agent Smith and kill him from within. As a result, both Neo and Agent Smith perish in the film’s final confrontation, and the machines, true to their word, end the war on humans.
The machines then carry Neo’s real-life body away ceremoniously before retreating from the human city of Zion and rebooting the Matrix once more, with the added caveat of allowing humans to leave the matrix if they so choose.
In the film’s final scene, The Architect (Helmut Bakaitis) meets with the Oracle (Mary Alice) in a park and it is explained to us that Trinity — and Neo’s love for her — was the variable introduced in this reincarnation of Neo (the sixth, for those keeping score) that made this one powerful enough to end the cycle of human indoctrination. They then forbiddingly reach the conclusion that this truce will last “as long as it can,” before the Oracle adds she suspects Neo will be back again “someday.”
But wait, Neo is dead. How is that going to happen and how is there a fourth film?
Truth be told, that’s what we’re all kind of wondering! However, this screenshot from the trailer might offer a bit of an explanation:
Based on this still that flashes extremely briefly at about 12 seconds in, it seems the machines might have preserved Neo’s body following his death in the matrix. This would explain why the Neo we see in the trailer — which presumably takes place inside the matrix, judging by the overall look of the world and the code Neo sees on Trinity’s face — is in fine physical condition while we know his body is, uh, not. There’s also the possibility that the machines transferred Neo’s consciousness into a new body, which, while out there, isn’t much of a stretch in a science fiction film where people’s hobbies and abilities can literally be uploaded into them. Lastly, it could also be an entirely new, resurrected Neo, but him knowing Trinity throws a wrench in that a bit — unless it’s a glitch in the matrix.
As for what Trinity is doing there, this could be a resurrected version of her or a version Neo and/or the machines built with his consciousness. It also could be the entire matrix we see in the new trailer is a special matrix that only exists for Neo. Basically, there are a hell of a lot of mights and no real answers as of yet. We also don’t know why Lawrence Fishburne’s Morpheus is not making an appearance in the film, though it’s speculated Yahya Abdul-Mateen II might be playing a younger version of him.
We do know The Matrix likes to ask big questions, and it seems like this film is going to pose quite a few on what we think living is, whether that be questioning if this potential “ship of Theseus” Neo is still Neo or if, when given the choice like the machines claimed they would give humans, we’d still elect to live in a Matrix for comfort, choosing to be blissfully ignorant? The scene in which Neo examines everyone engrossed on their phones and seemingly placated throws some weight behind that theory. As of right now, The Matrix Resurrections is slated to hit theaters on December 22, 2021, and it looks like we’ll just have to do a whole lot of head-scratching — and rewatches — until then.