Neo? You're Back?
Thoughts on the Upcoming The Matrix Sequel
A big bit of news came out recently: that Lana Wackowski was returning to the franchise after all these years away. Because of her involvement, Keanu Reeves is returning as well, along with Carrie-Anne Moss. Yes, Neo and Trinity are coming back for another adventure into the Matrix, rejoined by one of the two directors (sister Lilly Wackowski, who hasn't been seen in years for unknown reasons, is not signed on to return) for this grand sequel.
No other details of the movie have been announced yet -- story, other characters, or even when exactly this film is supposed to take place in the timeline -- but if you're like me, you probably had a couple of thoughts on this proposed film. For starters, bringing Neo back isn't all that impossible -- his code was reabsorbed back into the Matrix at the end of The Matrix Revolutions, so, sure, bringing him back as some kind of sever program or residual Neo-ghost is plausible. But bringing back Carrie-Anne Moss who, the announcement specifically said would be playing Trinity once again, makes a lot less sense. She wasn't special in the same way Neo was, didn't have Matrix code running in her head, and wasn't absorbed into the Matrix after her death. How do you bring her back?
Sure, there are probably ways they can do it. Maybe the Trinity we see isn't the real Trinity but just a creation by the Neo-Ghost so he has a part of her with him at all times. Or maybe they handwave it away and say, "oh, everyone in the Matrix has their minds backed up to the server so even though Trinity's body is dead her mind lives on in the Matrix." That or they just pull a fast one and say the humans went and reclaimed her body and she wasn't really dead after all. All of those options feel like a cheat and ruin a perfectly good death that proper brought closure to her whole story.
Plus, honestly, do we need more Matrix after all this time? I get that the films were hugely successful back in the day but is anyone really clamoring for more films in the series. Didn't The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions prove to the world that the series should have ended after the original film? Both sequels were helmed by the Wackowskis and if they couldn't get the sequels right back then when the ideas were still fresh is one-half of the creative duo really going to be able to do it on her own.
I mean, the Wackowskis haven't really been able to crank out a good film since the original Matrix came out. That film was revolutionary, an instant classic that holds up even now, infinitely watchable no matter the era. The sequels, though, were hot garbage and everything since -- Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas, Jupiter Ascending -- have managed to make The Matrix seem like a one-off fluke. It's hard to have faith with a Wackowski after that string of failure.
Beyond making money, what could possibly be said in a new Matrix movie that would really add anything new to the franchise? When we talked about a possible reboot to the series, back when Hollywood was still debating that idea, we made that point that the best thing the series could do would be to move into the next iteration, to start up the seventh version of the Matrix and have a new Neo (a neo-Neo) take over the resistance. That's still a possible plot line on the table, and I think I'd like to see that (even if it does mean we have to acknowledge the existence of the second and third movies), but it would require just the right, deft touch to pull it off. Not the touch of the ladies that made Speed Racer.
I know that the reports said Keanu wouldn't return to the franchise unless the Wackowskis were involved and I can understand that. They brought him into the series, gave him one of this biggest parts ever. He feels loyalty to the directors and wants to ensure that they get to continue work on the world they built. I can respect that even if I don't agree with it. The Wackowskis had their chance to give us a proper continuation to the series. Instead, they gave us The Matrix: Revolutions. For that I say, "throw the bums out."
I do think the idea of a sequel to the series, or a reboot, or whatever, has real merit. The fact that Keanu is involved gives me some hope as, for a specific kind of character (like Neo) he's a total bad-ass and, certainly, was the best and most consistent part of the three movies in the series so far. If anyone can make their scenes good (by force and with both hands if need be), he can do it.
That doesn't change the fact that this plan already seems ill-advised and poorly thought out. Bringing back anyone other than Neo seems like a stretch. Hell, bringing him back as Keanu already requires some narrative leaps that have to be explained. And then bringing in the old director to do what they did (and failed) before seems like a really bad idea. If that was the only way to get Keanu on board maybe they should have thought about doing it without the actor at all.
Put another way: this already sounds like hot garbage and I totally plan to see it opening day. Don't judge me.