The first movie celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. But those who think The Matrix is a thing of the past are in for a surprise. Warner Bros are to dust off the red and blue pills for a new adventure in the reality-bending series.
Originally created by Lana and Lilly Wachowski, Matrix 4 sees Lana taking the reins alongside writers Aleksandar Hemon and David Mitchell. A story has yet to be announced, but news-breakers Variety write that the script has “drummed up excitement”.
That and the bankability of returning franchise star Keanu Reeves gave the project a final push toward the green light. The studio have been seeking to revive The Matrix for the past couple of years. An argument over the production rights has been cited as a reason for the delay. As with previous instalments, Village Roadshow Pictures will team up with Warners to produce the film.
As well as directing and co-writing, Lana Wachowski produces with Grant Hill. Is the computer world of the Matrix somewhat old hat now? Far from it, according to Wachowski who commented the ideas “are even more relevant”, adding that she’s “very happy to have these characters back in my life”.
Those characters include Reeves’ office worker turned shades-sporting cyber warrior Neo. Carrie-Anne Moss has also signed up for the new installment as pro-active programmer and Neo love interest Trinity. The original set up featured the wise Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and evil Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). It is unclear at the moment if Fishburne will return to reprise his role as Morpheus. While people are quickly deleted in The Matrix, strings could be pulled to get these iconic roles back in the mix.
The series made a huge impact on Hollywood, both financially and technically. The Matrix and its follow ups Reloaded and Revolutions (both 2003) made over $1.6 dollars in box office receipts. In an age where one Star Wars or Marvel movie can generate that alone, it’ll be interesting to see how the franchise competes.
After Revolutions came full circle it would be over a decade before Reeves had another action smash. 2014’s John Wick has spawned 2 sequels and was key to a new Matrix chapter being considered. Another classic character of his is being revisited in the upcoming Bill & Ted Face The Music. Check out the trailer below:
Moss went on to appear in Marvel’s Jessica Jones and Channel 4’s sci-fi drama Humans. Lana and Lilly Wachowski worked on cult favourite Jupiter Ascending (2015) and co-created Netflix’s Sense8 with Babylon 5’s J. Michael Straczynski.
Critics were impressed with the original and the sequels were generally well-received. An anime series called The Animatrix was released the same year, featuring Moss and Spongebob Squarepants star Tom Kenny in the voice cast. The Wachowskis were on writing duties together with the likes of Peter Chung (Æon Flux).
A special effects technique called “bullet time” was put on the map by The Matrix. It partly involves surrounding a subject with cameras and taking multiple pictures. The pictures are then put together to create the effect of a camera floating round a seemingly static subject at varying speeds. The Wachowskis’ production updated the technique with computers, in a way that’s been replicated many times since. Their Matrix vision incorporated wire work, Japanese animation stylings and cyberpunk into a mainstream film.
Interviewed for Empire about The Matrix in 1999, Reeves said, “They found a way in a kind of linear journey to tell a non-linear story… The film is, I think, character- and story-oriented… So I never really looked at it as an action movie”.
That non-linear story focused on Thomas Anderson (Reeves), a secret hacker drawn into the virtual universe of The Matrix. There he discovered humanity had been enslaved and were infamously being used as batteries by a machine race, with “real life” an illusion to keep everyone docile.
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The new movie reportedly enters production next year. A lot has changed in Hollywood since Neo and co were last in town. It’s hoped Wachowski’s vision will introduce the concept to a whole new audience, no doubt paving the way for more journeys into The Matrix.