At some point in the next year or two, we’re going to get a new “Matrix” movie to go with the trilogy that ended almost twenty years ago. Production on the sequel has been delayed for obvious reasons, but the script has been finalized, and production is underway. In preparation for seeing the fourth film, many of the movie’s hardcore fans will be going back in time and re-familiarizing themselves with the original three films to make sure they understand all of the intricate threads of the tale before they see the next – and presumably final – installment. That journey starts with 1996 original and based on recent comments made by the people who created it, there was a message in that first film that we all missed.
Understanding what “The Matrix” is really about is almost the point of the films. It’s a deliberately confusing narrative in which you can’t trust that anything is real, and interpretations of the tale have varied from orthodox science fiction to Buddhist creation stories. If anyone knows the correct interpretation of the plot and the story being told, though, it’s the people who made it. That would be Lana and Lilly, the Wachowski sisters, and according to them, the crux of the tale isn’t spiritualism at all. It’s actually a story about trans rights and acceptance.
Trying to look at “The Matrix” with fresh eyes isn’t easy. When it was released, it was expected to become a little more than a cult science fiction film. In reality, it’s turned into a Hollywood entertainment brand with associated toys, video games, and official casino products at online slots websites such as RoseSlots.com. The online slots adaptation is particularly apt; in reality, the code that drives online slots is every bit as mathematically complex as the code that runs the reality simulations inside the titular matrix of the movies.
If we were able to forget about all those tie-in products and online slots, however, we’d be able to see the core values at the center of the film. There might be a lot of cyberpunk dressing and metaphor involved, but it’s actually a tale about struggling to come to terms with your real identity.
In a recent interview to promote the forthcoming fourth film, Lilly Wachowski highlighted the traits that define “The Matrix.” She wants us to about the fact that Neo is a computer programmer, and think instead about the situation he finds himself in. One day, he finds that he’s in a fake world where he can’t be himself and can’t trust anything around him. He escapes from that world, discovers who he really is, and is empowered by that discovery. According to Lilly, that’s the process that all trans people aspire to go through when they finally come to terms with the truth of their own identities.
Lilly is well placed to make that statement; both she and her sister Lana are trans women. While the messaging in the film might be subtle – so subtle, in fact, that everyone appears to have missed it – it was nearly made much more apparent. At one early stage in the scripting process, the character “Switch” would have been made in the real world, but female inside the Matrix, making the metaphor easier to pick up on. That idea was eventually dropped – a decision that Lilly now regrets.
Now that we know that the original “Matrix” contained a piece of social commentary and observation that most of us failed to identify, can we expect to see something less subtle in the new film? Reading between the lines, the answer to that question might be an emphatic “yes.” Actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who is best known for “Watchmen” but will play a significant part in the new “Matrix” movie, gave an interview of his own at the end of July 2020, and he had plenty to say about what to expect from the film.
According to him, both the plot and the message of the as-yet-untitled fourth chapter is highly “relevant” to modern times. In film-making code, talk about relevance usually means oblique or overt references to current events, or current social or political issues. It might well be the case that what the Wachowskis tried to say quietly at the start of the series may now be made more apparent.
Understandably, Yahya was reluctant to go into specific details, but he says that the themes touched on in the movie are those that people ought to be paying more attention to in the 2020s. His words are echoed by Keanu Reeves, who has in the past said that he chose to return to the part of Neo because the script “resonated with him,” and has “meaningful and nourishing” things to say about modern life and society despite being set in the far future.
We’re still expecting it to be a science fiction thriller with plenty of fight scenes – it wouldn’t be a “Matrix” movie without them – but now the cast is older we may also get quieter moments, and more to think about when the credits have rolled, and we’ve all returned home from the movie theater.
While speculating is fun, one of the downsides of the current situation is that we’re going to have to wait for quite a long time to find out whether or not we’re right. Before the shutdown of movie production studios across the world, the projected release date of the fourth Matrix film was mid-2021. Because of the delays, that date has slipped all the way back to April 2022 and might slip back even further if the cast and crew can’t get back in front of the cameras soon.
There might be even more complication if the new filming dates clash with other projects that the cast are already committed to. That isn’t just a problem for “The Matrix,” though. It’s a problem that the entire film making industry will have to contend with for at least the next year and possibly longer than that. On the other hand, having waited for the best part of two whole decades for another film to go with the three we already know and love, we’re sure the fans can cope with another year or two tagged onto the end of that wait.