The Matrix 4 is arriving in 2022, and the timing couldn't be better. Fans were immediately psyched in 2019 when Warner Bros. announced it was bringing the franchise back with original creator Lana Wachowski - just as they were puzzled by the additional announcement that original star Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are also returning. Indeed much of the intrigue surrounding Matrix 4 is how this story is even happening, given the events of the original trilogy. However, those were musings for 2019. Given everything that has, and continues to happen in the year 2020, The Maxtrix 4 now has the time and space to fashion itself into a blockbuster movie with a timely social message.
It's surprising to look back at the original Matrix Trilogy now - especially that first film, The Matrix (1999). Given how social views have evolved since then - not to mention the evolution of The Wachowskis in real life - there's a lot about The Matrix that now seems incredibly progressive and boundary-pushing on a socio-political level. Modern viewings of the films reveal some pretty clear LGBTQIA+ and diversity themes; a celebration of cross-cultural mixing; commentary on police-state culture and freedom vs. technology... it's all there.
In the 2000s, The Wachowskis were working in a studio system that required all that social progressive signaling to be muted in favor of a larger blockbuster movie experience - in all its problematic nature (like the typical white male savior archetype). After the first film, when the money was on the table and the studio really got invested in the franchise, the formulaic story tropes really took over. But 2022 is going to (hopefully?) be a very different era in filmmaking, and The Matrix 4 is poised to finally let Lana Wachowski's true social views come to the forefront. Wachowski is working with Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell and Sense8 writer Aleksandar Hemon - pretty clear evidence that Matrix 4 is indeed looking at some deeper ideas about human identity than your average blockbuster film.
Set videos from Matrix 4 tell a similar story. The coronavirus pandemic forced the film (among so many others) to go on production hiatus - but from what we saw before that, there's plenty to suggest that Matrix 4 definitely has something to say about where the world is headed - and perhaps, where it should go next.
Videos show Keanu Reeves back living in what is seemingly a Matrix simulation that resembles modern-day San Francisco, with Reeves looking every bit like a modern-day Silicone Valley yuppie programmer. Other videos show him once again meeting Trinity (Moss), while other videos show some kind of massive riot and social upheaval in the streets of that same setting.
This is speculation, but if The Matrix 4 focuses its story on waking up a populace that is "asleep" to so many things it needs to "wake up" to, to truly be free... well, there couldn't be a better time than April of 2022 to reflect on that social struggle (and its resolutions?) in the form of a blockbuster movie. The idea of freedom vs. authoritarian control; challenging age-old systems of control and oppression; and even the term of being "woke" now have so much more resonance in our society. And, with the coronavirus having shattered people's motivation to pile into movie theaters in a communal fashion, it needs to be a special, relevant, movie that really brings them back together. Matrix 4 will no doubt have the necessary spectacle worthy of a big-screen experience, but the return of a beloved franchise - which actually speaks to, and reflects the turbulent year we (hopefully?) just lived through - would be more than a movie: it would be a legitimate cinematic event. The kind that brings people back to the movies.
The Matrix 4 hits theaters on April 1, 2022.
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