The Matrix Resurrections Trailer Breakdown: How Is Neo Alive?

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Strap on your RayBans and leather jackets, because it’s finally time to reenter the Matrix. The first trailer for the long-awaited fourth film in the series is here. It’s got blue pills, red pills and martial arts galore, but we have two questions above all else. First, how are Neo and Trinity still alive? And second, what’s up with that rubber ducky?

Let’s break down this new footage and why it suggests the conflict between man and machine is taking a very different turn in 2021. Watch the video at the top of this page, or read on for the article version. And also be sure to check out everything we’ve learned from the Matrix Resurrections teaser website.

The Matrix Rebooted

The early shots show us an older yet inexplicably still living version of Keanu Reeves’ Thomas Anderson (aka – the Cyber Messiah Neo), living inside the latest version of The Matrix with only faint memories of his old life. Later in the trailer, Neo encounters Trinity at a coffee shop, and we see both of them struggling to figure out why the other seems so familiar.

The Matrix itself looks far more peaceful and futuristic than the grungy, turn of the century metropolis we saw in the older movies. Based on the ending of The Matrix Revolutions, humans and machines have formed a peace treaty and the Matrix has been rebooted to become less of a totalitarian hellscape. But if Neo himself is any indication, that doesn’t necessarily mean most humans are aware they’re living inside a simulation.

If anything, the elevator scene shows just how enthralled the average person is with technology and social media. How can anyone free their minds from the Matrix if they can’t even log off Reddit? We can probably guess what sort of social commentary director Lana Wachowski is making with this sequel.

How Are Neo and Trinity Alive?

So how are Neo and Trinity alive when we saw them both die in the climax of The Matrix Revolutions? For one thing, we don’t know if either of them still has a physical body outside of the Matrix. Is it possible Neo’s communion with the Machine intelligence somehow allowed his mind to escape into the Matrix as his body died?

This shot shows Neo with a very strange reflection in the mirror. It could suggest Neo and Trinity have both hijacked someone else’s body, just like Agent Smith and his colleagues used to do.

Speaking of which, we do see a shot of an Agent taking over a police officer’s body. Even if the new alliance between humanity and machines still exists, it seems the Matrix still needs these remorseless programs to keep the peace.

The trailer features another brief shot of someone waking up in the real world inside their pod. It’s hard to tell if this character is Neo, Trinity or someone else entirely, but perhaps we’ll learn the machines were somehow able to revive Neo’s body and plug him back in.

After all, Neo is the most thinly disguised Christ metaphor this side of Zack Snyder’s Superman. His death was always going to be followed by a resurrection.

The New Cast of The Matrix 4

The trailer introduces several of the new cast members for the sequel. Early on, we meet Neil Patrick Harris’ therapist character, who helps Thomas Anderson deal with his troubling dreams and keeps him supplied with a steady dose of memory-wiping blue pills. Those pills are called Ontolofloxin. Ontology is a branch of philosophy that deals with existence and the nature of reality. Prime Matrix material, in other words.

Later, we meet Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s character, a man who looks and speaks an awful lot like a young Morpheus. Assuming this is Morpheus, one of the big mysteries in the sequel is why Neo’s old friend and mentor has been reborn in a new form rather than aging like Neo and Trinity have. According to The Matrix Online MMORPG, Morpheus died after the events of the original trilogy, but at this point we have no idea if Resurrections is treating the game as part of the official canon.

Echoing the original film, this Morpheus gives Neo a red pill to help awaken his mind and counteract the blue pills. His line “Time to fly” is a callback to the first movie, both the line “Mescaline, it’s the only way to fly” and the fact that Neo alone is able to transcend the physical laws of The Matrix enough to literally fly.

Morpheus also refers to, “the only reason you’re still here, why you’re still fighting.” Is this implying that Neo willingly reentered the Matrix in order to find and rescue Trinity?

We also see a new take on the iconic dojo fight between Neo and Morpheus. This time, instead of saying “I know kung fu,” Neo tells Morpheus “You don’t know me.”

The trailer also introduces Jessica Henwick’s character, another martial arts whiz who may or may not be working alongside Morpheus. At one point we can see both characters fleeing down a hallway while an Agent shoots at them.

Interestingly, Morpheus’ clothing is dominated by the color red here, whereas Henwick’s character has a distinctive blue streak in her hair. Does this mean Henwick’s character is morally opposed to pulling humans out of the Matrix? The red vs. blue motif can be seen all over the trailer, from the blue color of the therapist’s glasses to the red of Morpheus’ suit. But unlike the original trilogy, the conflict between red and blue and enlightenment vs. security may not be so clear-cut. Maybe escaping the Matrix isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, especially if the love of your life is still inside.

Late in the trailer, we also meet Jonathan Groff’s character. This man seems to be aware of the Matrix and of Neo’s past. Could he be the Architect in a new form? Possibly not, as a clip seen on WhatIsTheMatrix.com shows Groff’s character enduring the same mouth-erasing torture Neo faced in the original movie. Whomever he is, this character appears to be human.

Easter Eggs in the Resurrections Trailer

The trailer includes a handful of other Easter eggs and nods to the original movie.

Neo sees a black cat again, mirroring the scene where he learned about the true meaning of deja vu.

There are several references to Alice in Wonderland, including the use of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” in the soundtrack and Henwick’s character sporting a rabbit tattoo.

And as for that rubber ducky that seems to be Neo’s only companion? This could be a reference to a computer programming concept known as Rubber duck debugging, where a programmer reviews their own code by explaining it, line by line, in the simplest terms possible to a rubber ducky. Don’t forget that before becoming a techno-superhero, Thomas Anderson was a computer programmer and hacker. Like Morpheus once said, no one can be told what the Matrix is, and this is a puzzle Neo has to solve for himself.

Finally, it’s worth pointing out the one thing that’s conspicuously absent in the trailer. While we see brief glimpses of the film’s many action scenes, we don’t see any slow-motion Bullet Time sequences. Are those scenes being saved for the final movie, or has even Lana Wachowski decided Bullet Time’s day is done?

That’s all we found in the new trailer. Let us know if we missed anything in the comments below! The Matrix Resurrections hits theaters and HBO Max on December 22. For more on the sequel, check out how someone’s reverse engineered the movie’s website to let you choose what teaser you watch.

Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.

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