To say the news of a fourth Matrix film with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss returning genuinely shocked me would be an understatement.
I hold this trilogy up as my favorite sci-fi film series of all time. It’s not without flaws, of course, but I maintain that the unconventional structure of the second and third movies is boldly innovative — and, more important, the story itself is fun, smart, engaging, and deeply human.
In the midst of memorable special effects and no shortage of physical fighting, the heart of this story is that our relationships are what give us the most strength. It’s our love for other people that drives us to action — an idea that shows up in multiple compelling character arcs across the three movies, as well as in the Wachowskis’ other work, including the Netflix series Sense8.
I’ll admit, also, to being a little nervous about this news, but I take it as a good sign that Moss and Reeves were confirmed first and together, since literally nothing else would make any sense for this movie.
Previously, at the end of The Matrix: Revolutions, the third installment in the trilogy, Trinity and Neo both die — each making the ultimate sacrifice to end the war between humans and machines and restore peace to the cyberworld of the Matrix. I’ve long loved the idea that their story could continue beyond the events of that film — that they lived on as programs in the newly peaceful Matrix, as many fans have proposed. Within that world, it’s well-established that program inhabitants live out full lives without any physical counterpart in the real world. Perhaps it follows, then, that their consciousnesses could have been uploaded independent of their bodies (in a neat reversal of Agent Smith downloading a copy of himself into a human body!), free to live how they pleased in a happy simulation, “San Junipero” style. (Food for thought: Free of the constraints of his body, how much more powerful would Neo be within the Matrix?)
But let’s back way up, shall we? Maybe you, unlike me, haven’t thought about these characters in terms of the full trilogy in a while. I like to say that the Matrix trilogy is a love story (not a romance, since it lacks a happily-ever-after … for now) disguised as sci-fi.
There’s a poetic balance to their story arc across the three films: At the close of the first movie, Neo dies in the Matrix and flatlines in reality, regaining consciousness at the sound of Trinity’s voice—and then realizing his full abilities as the one human who can break the rules of virtual reality. In the second movie, Reloaded, Trinity also dies within the Matrix and flatlines in reality, rescued and resuscitated by Neo. And then, in the third film, their stories end, peace is restored, and we know they wouldn’t change a thing—because they were able to meet, love each other, and together, accomplished something no previous iteration of The One was able to do: they won.
And it wasn’t an accident.
It took a while, but the Oracle — a sentient program and excellent cookie-baker aiding the human resistance — understood why the previous Ones were failing to affect actual change, and for Neo, she tried something new: She set him up to fall in love. (Or, hey, maybe she tried this with previous Ones, but it never worked out. Humans are unpredictable that way.) And with Neo and Trinity, she finally struck gold.
Strengthened by his devotion to Trinity, Neo takes a different path when he meets the Architect, the sentient program who developed the Matrix. The Architect, who views Neo as nothing more than a frustrating hiccup in The System, hands him some bullshit about allowing Zion to crumble and the Matrix to be rebooted because “this is how we always do it, endless war and mass casualties are fine, it’s the only way.” (Ok boomer!)
But, as even the Architect notices, Neo’s reaction differs from every other One before him because he’s focused on protecting Trinity, specifically, instead of humanity as a whole. The Architect sees this as weakness, of course, but it’s actually Neo’s greatest strength. Neo refuses to consider abandoning Trinity — combined with his distaste for fate, he feels zero temptation to comply and heads back into the Matrix, where he immediately saves his lady — which the Architect told him he couldn’t possibly do.
For her part, Trinity starts out the series as a skeptic — she’s a loyal follower of Morpheus, who acts as a prophet-esque father figure to his crew, and she wants to believe in their mission to free humanity. But she’s not immediately convinced that Neo is the person they’re looking for, and with good reason: The Oracle told her that she’d fall in love, and when she did, she’d know that person was “the One.” (Get it???) The Oracle was rolling the dice, here, of course, because that’s what she does. (Also, she totally ships it.) So, Trinity spends the majority of the first movie staring at Keanu Reeves’s face and silently asking herself “Do I love him?” We all know the answer. And she loves as courageously as she does everything else—her relationship status doesn’t make her any less of a badass. If anything, it gives her more strength and resilience to fight for their mission until the very end.
Ask me why this is my OTP.
As big a fan I am of their story as it stands, I also think there’s room for the fourth installment to fill in some blanks — mainly, Trinity’s backstory. We got a pretty clear picture of who Neo was before he broke free of the Matrix, but who was Trinity, apart from being a legendary hacker? Maybe, in a peaceful version of the simulated world she left behind, she’s finally free to pursue interests that don’t include running up walls in pleather catsuits. In fact, that applies to both of them: Who are they without all the hacking and fighting? This is such an exciting question for this movie to answer, if it happens to give us a glimpse of these two living their version of a peaceful life—whatever that might be. Maybe they have a beach house? Eat ice cream on a pier under one of Sati’s rainbow skies? Make art together? I’m just spit-balling, here! I definitely haven’t spent hours daydreaming about this!!!
In the midst of some surprising cast announcements, Keanu has also called the screenplay “very ambitious,” and I’d expect nothing less. I won’t speculate on what the new film’s storyline might be, but I will say one thing: The two of them and the truth of their love for each other has to be the continued heart of this story.
As long as that holds true, I’m happy to come along for the ride.