The original Matrix built its whole marketing scheme on the idea of nobody knowing what “The Matrix” is, playing up the idea that the movie would be hard to understand (but in a cool way) and about some kind of central, life-altering mystery. It was, like a lot of things with that first movie, brilliant. It totally worked, and the movie was good enough that it made the aggressively mind-blowing twists and quietly dorky costumes seem really cool. So, for Matrix Resurrections, the upcoming sequel/reboot/something, it would make sense for Warner Bros. to want to play things pretty close to the proverbial leather trench coat. The movie comes out later this year, and we still don’t really know much about it except for the new cast and the fact that two actors whose characters definitely died in the original trilogy are coming back (and someone who survived is not).
Today, though, ahead of the release of the first trailer, Warner Bros. launched a Matrix Resurrections teaser website that is… oddly informative. Like, to the point where you can actually start to glean some plot details from the very short clips hosted on the page. A Matrix movie where you kind of know what’s going on from the beginning? What is the ridiculous new world we’ve found ourselves in?
The site, which you can find here, asks you to choose between a blue pill and a red pill. If you’ve seen the old movies, you know what this means: Either the story ends and you wake up in your bed, believing whatever you want to believe, or you stay in wonderland and see how deep the rabbit hole goes. On this website, though, you actually get something with both choices. Click the blue pill and Neil Patrick Harris will tell you what time it is, explaining that anything other than the reality he’s laying out for you is “your mind playing tricks on you.” Click the red pill and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II will also tell you the time, but he says that’s not really what time it is and that reality “couldn’t be further from the truth.” Oooh, Matrix-y!
After the clock games, both pills then show very quick (and different) teasers, featuring stuff like Keanu Reeves living a seemingly normal life while regularly popping blue pills and showing up as a significantly older man in reflections, Reeves stepping off of a high-rise building, Abdul-Mateen materializing out of some weird machine, Jonathan Groff’s mouth sealing up like Neo’s did in the first movie (a tribute, we assume, to his spittle-spraying performance in Hamilton), what appears to be Carrie-Anne Moss sitting by a phone in a dark room just like in the beginning of The Matrix, and a brief glimpse of somebody with Matrix plug holes on their head. Oh, also, the clips change. You won’t always see the same ones, no matter which pill you choose. Welcome to The Matrix, baby.
So what’s going on? Well, it seems like Neo woke back up in The Matrix, believing he’s an old man and not Keanu Reeves (or maybe the other way around, even). Neil Patrick Harris is feeding him blue pills that keep him convinced that the world he’s in is Real, and as the pills start to wear off, he starts to remember things about the nature of this reality. Maybe Groff’s mouth sealing up isn’t real and Neo’s hallucinating? What if he’s not even in The Matrix as we know it? What if he thinks that he’ll be able to casually step off of a building and fly away like before, but he actually can’t?
Abdul-Mateen’s stuff seems like a tougher nut, since his voiceover is playing the Morpheus role on the pills screen but he doesn’t seem as self-assured as Morpheus always did. Maybe he’s a machine who thinks he’s a human, with the robots planting him in The Matrix and then letting him figure out that it’s not real in order to root out the human resistance? Either way, why did the machines never think of that before? It seems like a good plan, especially since Agent Smith established in the sequels that you can download a program into a human body in the real world.
We’ll know even more when the full trailer comes out later this week, and we’ll… probably know less when Lana Wachowski’s movie comes out on December 22.