Follow the White Rabbit Through the Many Details in The Matrix: Resurrections Trailer

The first trailer for The Matrix: Resurrections has arrived and though it brings many questions, it teases some interesting story details as well.

If you need a gauge for my excitement level for The Matrix: Resurrections, all you need to do is look back and try to find the last time I did a movie trailer breakdown….Seriously, my hype for the film is at an all-time high and this morning’s trailer absolutely blew me away. I’ve been waiting on this since the trilogy ended (yes, I liked ALL of them), and while the trailer doesn’t appear to give away much of the story, there are some big hints we can piece together.

As such, I thought it’d be fun to point out some of these clues and speculate on what they might mean for the overall story fans can expect. To be clear, I’ve heard SOME things about the film, but by and large this will be all about speculation and having fun!

The Timeline

I figured I’d would get this out of the way first, as it seems to be the biggest question some have after watching the trailer…When does this actually take place? Is it a reboot, a sequel only to the first film, or something else? Based on what we seen in the trailer and some of the things I’ve heard, this is very much a sequel to the TRILOGY and follows on from the events of Matrix: Revolutions.

I know, I know…Neo and Trinity are both dead by the end of the film, but as the previous films made clear, the story of The Matrix, and “the One” is cyclical in nature and death isn’t always the end. I think Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s character is more evidence of that cycle aspect as it seems very clear he’s playing a younger Morpheus. He could very well be the latest incarnation of his character, after the older one had passed. So rather than going “backward” we’re seeing the current cycle’s version in action.

There’s some other small, circumstantial evidence that the timeline takes place after the originals. For one, we get a look at Priyanka Chopra’s character in the film, who bears a striking resemblance—that hair style can’t be simple coincidence—to Sati. At the end of Revolutions, Sati is a child who helps redesign at least ONE PART of the Matrix to present a beautiful sunrise in honor of Neo (which I’ll talk about in a bit). If Chopra is, indeed, playing a grown up version of Sati, then we’re obviously moving along the same timeline.

Secondly, there’s Jada Pinkett Smith. No, we don’t see her in the trailer (don’t rush back thinking you missed it), but she is still credited with a role in the film. Considering her character, Niobe, only existed in the sequels, it’s another indication we’re seeing a continuation of the overall story. As for what role Niobe might play in the film, that’s tough to say, but I think it’ll have something to do with whatever’s going on with Zion during this point in time.

Speaking of Zion and the “real world” outside of the Matrix, the trailer makes it clear we’ll get to revisit that side of things as well. From Sentinels, to the cool hovercraft ships the humans use, we get glimpses that things are still happening on that side. One shot that really stood out to me, however, is this one:

For one, it’s a cool looking shot (this film will be gorgeous if nothing else), but what’s striking is how we see what appears to be actually sunlight peaking through. As we learned in the previous films, the human resistance blacked out the sky to try and deprive the machines of solar power. If we’re seeing even limited bits of daylight coming through, perhaps it’s an indication that the truce between machines and humans saw them work together to begin repairing the sky.

Beyond this, our biggest clue about Resurrection‘s timeline placement comes in the early moments of the trailer. In a true blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, we see this:

If you look closely, you can see that Neo’s eyes are gone, scarred over and blinded from his battle with Smith in the real world. It sure looks like the machines are taking care of Neo’s body after he sacrifices himself to save the worlds and end the war. It’s hard to say exactly the process going on here, but it seems as if they’ve done the work to reinsert Neo into the Matrix.

As Reloaded made clear, thanks to the ever helpful expositional villain, the Architect, the One is an essential part of the Matrix program. In fact, without the key element that they bring to it, the whole program begins to fall apart. A “Prime Program” in which a person carries a special code that serves a function within the world. As the machines have endeavored to rebuild the Matrix in light of their truce with the humans (and after Agent Smith’s invasion), it would make sense they would still need Neo around in some capacity.

But Why?

This is where things get tricky. Revolutions ended with the Machines and Humans finally striking a truce. It was a hard-won fight that cost many lives, but seemed to finally break the long-running cycle. The Architect makes it clear he intends to keep his word and allow the humans who WANT out to be freed.

The other implication in that statement is there are plenty of people who would choose to remain inside the Matrix, content with their lives inside the program. It makes sense. Even Morpheus tells Neo many people are not ready to be freed and would react badly to it all.

By and large, I think that’s what we’re seeing evidence of in this trailer. Where beforehand, the Matrix was a perpetual cycle of people being kept in the latter days of the 20th Century (cycle after cycle), we see a modernized world with smart phones and everything else we’d expect. The world of the Matrix is finally moving on….

That said, the machines seem keen to keep Neo in place and locked into the Matrix. We see Neil Patrick Harris’ character working as some sort of therapist prescribing plenty of “blue pills” likely meant to keep Neo’s memory from returning and keeping him locked in place. Beyond that, however, it looks like another safeguard is in place to keep him under control: Trinity.

As Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s character says in the trailer “The only that that matters to you is still here. I know it’s why you’re still fighting…” Sure seems like the machines managed to revive Trinity as well as Neo, putting her back in the Matrix as another way to keep Neo in check and hanging around.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II seems keen on waking Neo back up to the truth, as Morpheous once did before, along with the help of Jessica Henwick’s character who is filling the second-in-command role previously filled by Trinity (note that White Rabbit tattoo call back!). Hell, we even see them fighting up against Agents once more. All of this leads back to one big question: why?

Centuries of war is a hard thing to erase, and where the truce may have lasted for a bit, things could have broken back down. Perhaps the machines are once again forcing people to remain in the Matrix despite saying they wouldn’t.

My current theory is there’s another program who wields power beyond what the machines can control. Perhaps a program like the Merovingian (Lambert Wilson is returning for the role in Resurrections), or even how Agent Smith ended up, are playing both sides against each other? Neil Patrick Harris’ character seems to be playing a villain, but is he working with the machines or for himself?

Where Are We

There’s a big part of me that wants to believe the machines and humans are still, in some way working together (hence my current theory), mostly because we can see things have certainly changed. It’s clear the machines aren’t exerting the same amount of control/influence on the Matrix as before.

Gone is the green color scheme from the original films, which clearly denoted when we were “inside” the program. Now it’s crystal clear, much like we see at the end of Revolutions, where the machines have relinquished some of their control, allowing even a “rogue” program like Sati to have some influence on its look/feel.

This definitely isn’t the Matrix we’ve seen before, and looks to be something all new they’re trying. I don’t think it’s a “Matrix within a Matrix” thing going on as some are speculating. Rather, it feels like they’re using elements of the previous program to keep humanity in check.

There are some big “meta” aspects to the film. Hell, we see Jonathan Groff’s character at the end of the trailer clearly reference “The Matrix” as a thing that exists. If you look closely, you can even see one sequence in which someone is clearly watching the original Matrix movie in some form.

This feels a bit messy, but…what if the machines use the Matrix itself as a layer of control. Say the films/trilogy exist within the current incarnation of the machine program. A kind of way for the machines to let people know “the truth” but doing it in a way that makes it seem like nothing more than simple entertainment. That way people can still question their reality, but don’t actually seek to escape it as they have in the past.

It seems crazy, and maybe I’m looking into it too much, but it feels like something that would be very much in line the whole idea behind these films. It would be a solid way to continue the story without feeling like it’s messing up the story elements that have come before (as so many other legacy sequels have done).

Bringing it Together

Ultimately, based off this trailer it seems like something has clearly gone wrong in the Matrix. Despite having won in the previous films, elements of the “cycle” are still coming back up (hence all the parallel sequences we see) and someone wants to keep Neo out of play for whatever comes next. Whether it’s a return of the bigger war between man and machines, or a third party looking to take over both worlds…

Cool Stuff

There are a number of sweet Easter eggs sprinkled throughout the trailer for fans of the original movies to enjoy. On top of that, there’s just a bunch of cool stuff in general. Here are some smaller things I thought were neat in the trailer that don’t really fit into any of my above conversation:

Real World – We know at some point that Trinity makes it back to the real world. So she isn’t just a program inside the Matrix as some have speculated. This scene, which at first looks like it could be Neo, is clearly Carrie Anne Moss.

Powers – Neo’s old powers begin to crop up, and they seem to have gone to the next level. I mean, what’s better than stopping a bunch of bullets? How about redirecting a freaking MISSILE into a helicopter?! Holy crap.

Red and Blue – The red/blue theme continues to pop up, but not just in the pills so clearly featured. If you look closely, you’ll notice Neil Patrick Harris is wearing blue-framed glasses, while Priyanka Chopra is wearing red-framed glasses. It’s a small thing, but there are no small things when it comes to the Matrix.

Agent Jones – I might be wrong here, but this sure as hell looks like Agent Jones (from the original Matrix). The actor, Robert Taylor, is supposed to reprise the role so it makes sense, but cool to see him in the trailer, nonetheless!

I’m sure there are a bunch of things I missed in this trailer, and some clues that might lead me to a different theory. Either way, it sure is fun to be thinking about, and speculating on, The Matrix once again. What do you think is going on?

The Matrix Resurrections releases on December 22, 2021.

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Editor-in-Chief: Writer and cartoonist who went to college for post-production, he now applies his love of drawing, movie analysis, filmmaking, video games, and martial arts into writing.