Sequels, by their nature, are a remix of what’s come before: a new iteration of characters we’ve already met and a story we already know. In the latest trailer for “The Matrix Resurrections” — the sequel to the first “Matrix” trilogy that concluded 18 years ago with “The Matrix Revolutions” — it’s clear that director Lana Wachowski and her collaborators are going to get meta with what a sequel is.
The trailer opens by quoting Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) from 1999’s “The Matrix” — “A deja vu is usually a glitch in the Matrix. It happens when they change something” — followed by a series of split-screen images that overlay, often with eerie precision, the previous “Matrix” movies with scenes from “Resurrections.” On one level, the comparisons are basic movie marketing, assuring viewers that this new movie will give them a version of what they’ve seen before. But there also appears to be a deeper point to the promo, a suggestion that “Resurrections” is not just going to revisit the previous “Matrix” movies, but fundamentally change them — possibly subvert them altogether.
Here are the biggest burning questions from the trailer.
How is Neo back inside the Matrix?
Spoiler alert for an 18-year-old movie: At the end of “The Matrix Revolutions,” Keanu Reeves’ Neo sacrifices his life to save humanity and reboot the Matrix — we even see the machines carrying away his lifeless body. In “Resurrections,” Neo appears to have been, well, resurrected, and placed back inside the Matrix. How and why this happened remain mysteries, but there are even more tantalizing questions to ask, like …
Who are the real heroes and villains?
Arguably the most provocative image in the new trailer is moment when Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) — the villain of the first trilogy — is matched with a shot of Yahya Abdul-Mateen II wearing the same nondescript suit and tell-tale earpiece. We know Abdul-Mateen is playing a new version of Morpheus, the role originated by Laurence Fishburne, so our assumption would be that this Morpheus is also a good guy. But this image would seem to suggest otherwise.
Similarly, Jonathan Groff would appear to be the new version of Agent Smith, who is destined to battle with Neo inside the Matrix. There are several images in this trailer and the previous trailer that indicate as much. But then there’s this split-screen, in which Neo’s experience in the first “Matrix” movie of having his mouth sealed shut is matched with the same moment for Groff’s character.
What “old code” is lurking inside the Matrix?
In 2003’s “The Matrix Reloaded,” we met the Merovingian (Lambert Wilson), a suave and powerful independent program within the Matrix who had his own aims. In a blink-and-you-miss-it moment in the new trailer, we see a new version of the Merovingian with a bedraggled beard and unkempt hair, suggesting he’s been languishing within the Matrix for many years.
Later, we hear someone say, “Why use old code to make something new?” Maybe the Merovingian could answer.
Are the machines at war with themselves?
That “old code” question is followed by an equally provocative statement from someone else speaking with an unnatural duality: “Maybe this isn’t the story we think it is.” At that same moment, we cut to a shot of the machines at war — but in a twist, they appear to be fighting other machines. It would seem that no civilization — human or artificial — can escape the story of self-destruction.
Is Trinity the new Neo?
One of the most memorable shots of “The Matrix” is of Neo putting on a pair of black sunglasses while looking outrageously cool — so memorable, in fact, that it was repeated a few times in “Reloaded” and “Revolutions.” In the “Resurrections” trailer, however, those shots are literally split to reveal Trinity putting on a pair of sunglasses instead. Perhaps one of the things that has “changed” with this new movie is the identity of its messianic hero.
Watch the full trailer below.