For all of its visual pizzazz and twisty, mind-blowing ideas, The Matrix movies have always been underpinned by something else.
It’s not hyperbole to suggest that when the first Matrix movie was released in 1999, it changed the game.
It blew past what audiences thought they could expect from a sci-fi action movie with its cerebral, mind-tripping story about simulated reality and eye-popping stunts and visual effects.
The Matrix remains one of the most influential films of its genre.
But with all that emphasis on bullet time, deja vu and jaw-dropping building-leaps, sometimes we forget that underpinning The Matrix is a love story.
When a fourth instalment of the franchise, The Matrix Resurrections in cinemas now, was announced, thus reuniting Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and filmmaker Lana Wachowski, the question was always going to be centred on how does this further Neo and Trinity’s story.
And, maybe, more specifically, their love story.
“I always saw all of The Matrix movies as a love story with great action and incredible ideas,” Moss told news.com.au. “So, I was always anchored in that love.
“Trinity knew that she would know the One because she would love him. There were other Ones that would come along, and she hadn’t felt that about them, that was in my backstory for Trinity.
“So, it was always rooted in love for me. And then this particular [film], this one that Lana wrote, she wrote it with so much love, and she has so much love for the characters, for the world, for all of the ideas that she’s sharing.
“I definitely think it’s about love, and the other things.”
Reeves, ever, as always, the taciturn and elusive thinker, wasn’t convinced if The Matrix Resurrections is “ultimately” a love story, but “I think it’s definitely part of a love story”.
With Neo and Trinity’s seeming demise at the end of the third film in the original trilogy, The Matrix Resurrections needed to contrive a reunion that would satisfy fans and keep fidelity with the characters.
You’d be hard-pressed to argue that Wachowski’s film isn’t driven by Trinity and Neo’s epic romance.
Newcomer to The Matrix world, Yahya Abdul-Mateen is on-board with the significance of the love story to The Matrix Resurrections.
“For me, it is the legacy of a love story,” he said. “It’s the legacy of an attraction between two characters, two people who really fight at all odds to be with each other.”
Abdul-Mateen, who won an Emmy for his role in the critically lauded miniseries Watchmen, said The Matrix Resurrections also continues the series’ legacy – the question of what is real and what is not.
“It gives us the opportunity to define how we want to live our lives and to make sure that we are in control of that, as opposed to other forces deciding what our lives are for us.”
As much as The Matrix Resurrections hits on an emotional or intellectual level, the franchise has always also been about the stunts, and the fourth instalment strives to deliver the goods.
It’s also what the actors were most looking forward to.
“Once I put on my dojo costume, I said, ‘Ohmigod, I can’t wait,’” Abdul-Mateen said of the moment he slipped into the threads for a scene with him and Reeves, a recreation of sorts from the first film.
“I want to get down to some serious business in this. I was very excited about the stunts.”
Mindhunter’s Jonathan Groff was similarly giddy at the prospect.
“For me, it was definitely the fight training,” he said. “We were learning our fights at the same time together next to each other. So, we would learn sort of the basic skills simultaneously and then we would get to learn our fights and then watch other fights.
“There was this camaraderie that you don’t normally get on a film set because everybody’s always shooting at different times but because we were all in training together and all learning these separate fights under the same roof, it felt like a sports atmosphere.”
Reeves and Moss were old hands at The Matrix game, but it was reuniting behind-the-camera – “hanging out, working, training together” – that drew them both back into the world.
And, of course, Lana Wachowski.
“Just her passion, her talent,” Reeves said.
Groff was a bit more loquacious. “In my first audition, where I met her, I was really taken by the fact that we just chatted for the first 30 minutes to an hour, and she talked about why she was coming back to this world.
“She was talking about her artistic impulse and I knew from watching her work that it’s art as much as it is amazing, giant science fiction. To sit across from her and hear this artist talk about their creative impulses really set the tone that we weren’t just making another movie, that she was really wanting to say something.”
The Matrix Resurrections is in cinemas now
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