The New Matrix Movie: Why?

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In case you missed it this week, the hottest news coming out of Hollywood is that there’s going to be a fourth Matrix movie. Keanu Reeves is already confirmed to be signed up to the project, as is Carrie-Anne Moss. Entertainment websites and news programs are all reporting this development with a great deal of excitement, but we find ourselves asking a question that risks spoiling the mood, and it’s this: Why is this happening?

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Fourth movies are very much ‘in’ at the moment – especially fourth movies which belong to a series of films which we’d long believed to be dead. Toy Story 4 took us back to our childhoods earlier this year, and even though it felt a little like a re-tread of the third movie, the majority of viewers agreed that making the film was a worthwhile exercise. The reviews ranged between ‘good’ and ‘great.’ The Avengers series was, of course, a series of four (if you don’t count the numerous movies that spin-off and tie-in to it). Ocean’s 8 was a fourth film. John Wick is also coming back for a fourth movie, and that leads us to another point.

It feels like Keanu Reeves has reached that stage of his career where he wants to re-visit all of his best work, and bring it out for another airing. Even as we speak, he’s putting the finishing touches to a third Bill and Ted movie. John Wick is his franchise. He may not have come up with the idea of the Matrix, but he’s the person most closely associated with it, and if anybody could persuade the producers and writers (and fellow actors) to come back for another go, it’s him. This is an idea he’s borrowed from Sylvester Stallone, who seems completely unable to stop playing Rocky or Rambo no matter how old he gets.

The temptation to make another Matrix movie is an obvious one – money. The Matrix movies have always retained an enormous cult following, and the theory is that having a following means that a new movie will always make money. That theory is flawed, and here’s why. Imagine you have a big win when playing UK slots casino. You enjoyed playing, and you enjoyed winning, so you bet again. It takes you a while, but eventually, you do manage a second win. Now, you’re under the impression that the mobile slots game will continue to pay out forever. The temptation to move on and try a different mobile slots website disappears, and you just keep doing the same thing and spinning the same reels. Eventually, the mobile slots game will stop paying out. So will any movie franchise. The unfortunate team responsible for making Men In Black: International are still counting the cost of finding that out. Keanu Reeves and his Matrix friends may be about to make the same mistake.

In all the excitement of hearing about the fourth Matrix movie, a lot of fans and reviewers have forgotten something very important. The impact and influence of the first Matrix movie are undeniable. Dressing like the main characters briefly became fashionable. People still turn up for Comic-Con and similar events dressed as Trinity now. Theories that we’re all currently living inside a virtual reality simulation became mainstream. ‘Take the red pill’ became a meme before memes had even been conceived. It was one of the few films that created a genuine cultural shift. If they’d all been that good, we’d have nothing to fear from a new film.

Sadly for us, and for everybody else, the two sequels weren’t as good as the first. Although a (decreasing) number of people still parted with their money to go and see them, it’s impossible to escape the feeling that they were a huge, crushing disappointment. The pseudo-science of the first Matrix film had been relatively easy to follow. What we were presented with in the sequels seemed almost deliberately confusing and contradictory. By the time the third film ended, nobody seemed to know what was going on, and even fewer people cared. The franchise died a death. Nobody wanted a fourth movie by the time the credits on the third film started rolling. It’s entirely possible that people only think they want a sequel now because they’ve forgotten how terrible the sequels were.

We don’t want this to be a complete burial of the prospects of the potential new Matrix film. There is a chance – however remote – that the writers can pick up the shattered fragments of the franchise and piece something together that fans of the original might be happy with. A very good reason would have to be found as to why Neo and Trinity are so much older (and, at the risk of spoiling things for those who never subjected themselves to the third film, not dead), and a compelling reason would need to be found for even re-entering the world of the Matrix when the system had been finally and utterly defeated. This is science fiction, though, and so anything can happen within reason. It would just have to be a particularly well-crafted reason. We can’t think of one, so it’s to be hoped that the writers have significantly better imaginations than we do. Maybe it will all be an allegory for social media, and inter-connectivity. Maybe it will just be a dull run around full of clones and shaky continuity again.

If you found yourself jumping for joy when you heard that the Matrix is coming back, we invite you to put aside the time to give the entire trilogy a re-watch before deciding whether you really want to see it all happen again. We all love nostalgia. The past can be a wonderful place, which we all-too-often see through rose-tinted glasses. We remember the good things, and we forget the bad. Just because something was great once doesn’t mean it should necessarily come back. The Matix was fantastic in the 1990s, but the 1990s were twenty years ago. Like the Spice Girls, Britpop, floppy disks, and dial-up internet, it should probably stay there rather than coming back and further desecrating a grave which was already, in all honesty, fairly thoroughly ruined.

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The New Matrix Movie: Why?

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