Choice emerges as an illusion with the approaching release of Matrix Resurrections, the fourth installment in the mind-bending and disruptive The Matrix trilogy.
The Matrix Resurrections will continue the saga of Neo (Keanu Reeves), who seems to be enmeshed in a reality that is not quite what it seems, trapped in the past rife with memories, implants, and lines of code. As per the trailers released for the upcoming film, the core narrative and social commentary of Resurrections is expected to undergo a substantial shift, with the rabbit hole only going deeper than ever.
One Pill Makes You Larger, One Pill Makes You Small: The Illusion of Choice
In 1999’s The Matrix, Neo is offered an essential choice by Morpheus, introducing the red pill-blue pill dichotomy and the fluidity of reality dependent on that very choice. While the red pill has been synonymous with the trope of “waking up” and recognizing the reality of the simulacrum, Resurrections will purportedly add a layer of complexity to this established symbolism. Suppose Neo is trapped in, yet another fabricated reality designed and controlled by the Machines. In that case, this diminishes the significance of his sacrifice at the end of Revolutions, granting a hollow and duplicitous quality to the truce between the two parties. While it is too early to make in-depth and informed speculations about the trajectory of the narrative, it is hinted that deja-vu will be playing a more prominent role in the grander scheme of things, functioning within a metanarrative that usurps whatever is widely known and accepted within the franchise.
Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith is markedly missing from the upcoming film, but this role seems to be filled by the character played by Jonathan Groff, who appears to be acting as Neo’s handler within his immediate reality. The question of the nature of the blue pill also arises, apparent from the color cues and inherent symbolism present in the trailers, especially with the presence of Neo’s psychiatrist (played by Neil Patrick Harris). On the other hand, there’s the question of Morpheus and Trinity, who are not who they seem to be when compared to their original counterparts. While Morpheus’ motivations remain muddled, his role in the Matrix Resurrections casts a shadow of doubt on his actions throughout the trilogy, especially the central choice he presents to Neo in the beginning.
Is the red pill truly a gateway to awakening and emancipation, or yet another program designed by the Machines for human subjugation? Are there multiple layers of simulacra within the world of The Matrix, including the “real” world that the characters inhabited all these years? Patterns are expected to be repeated within the narrative, such as the presence of the black cat, the emergence of a young Morpheus, and Neo coming face to face with the blank emptiness of the “desert of the real.” While it is impossible to gauge what is going to happen next, a lot of material from The Matrix comics and video games can potentially be incorporated in Resurrections, presumably with a twist of their own.
How Resurrections’ Commentary On Technology Informs The World of The Matrix
If one were to map the chronology of the events in the upcoming installment, roughly eighteen years have passed for humanity within and without the matrix. Technology has taken leaps and bounds, offering marvels and posing threats simultaneously, alienating the human consciousness from their immediate reality in a plethora of ways. Social media is a key example of the same, wherein the concepts of the real vs. projected self-come into play, along with the creation of alternate realities that often impact society on a base level. Moreover, Neo has always been symbolically deemed as a Christ-like figure, rising from the dead and carrying out the ultimate sacrifice for the betterment of reality. However, with reality being reloaded, this established symbolism is somewhat challenged in Resurrections, wherein Trinity might as well fulfill the role of “The One.” This version of Trinity has no memories of the original, so is she is a genetically-enhanced clone or a computer-generated dream? There are no simple answers to these complex, loaded questions. Still, The Matrix franchise seems to be leaning heavily on the pitfalls of technology, and how it creates a hyperreal world filled with apathetic melancholy, which forms the core of Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation. Some aspects of worldbuilding remain baffling:
- People seem to be moving between worlds using a malleable mirror.
- Neo is yet again referred to as his machine-given name, Thomas Anderson.
- People are seen using guns as the prime weapon of choice, despite technological advancements.
Here’s hoping that these pertinent questions will be answered in a nuanced, compelling way in Resurrections, a dream within a dream in the franchise as a whole.
The Matrix Resurrections is a 2021 Science Fiction Thriller film written and directed by Lana Wachowski.