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Everything we know about The Matrix 4 and its 2021 HBO Max release

Keanu Reeves will return as "The One" in a fourth, new Matrix movie. And he's not alone.

Warner Bros/Village Roadshow Pictures/Kobal/Shutterstock
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Do you still know kung fu?

Nearly two decades after the original trilogy ended, a fourth movie all about Neo and mankind's war with the machines will stream on HBO Max in 2021.

Lana Wachowski, one-half of the Wachowski siblings who wrote and directed the original movies, returns as the sole director along with novelists David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon joining her as co-screenwriters.

In anticipation for our return to Zion, here's everything we know so far about the fourth, untitled Matrix film slated for 2021. Bookmark this page and check back often, as we'll update this page with everything you need to know and see, including plot details, casting announcements, stills, and trailers when they're made available.

Remember, the answer is out there.

Jake Kleinman contributed to this article.

Carrie Anne-Moss and Keanu Reeves will reprise their roles in 2021's The Matrix 4.Warner Bros/Village Roadshow Pictures/Kobal/Shutterstock

When is the release date of Matrix 4?

The Matrix 4 (final title TBD) will be released on December 22, 2021.

The movie will be released both in theaters and on the streaming platform HBO Max. Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020, Warner Bros. announced in late 2020 it will release its entire 2021 film slate in both theaters and on HBO Max, where audiences still abiding by quarantine and lockdown orders can watch new movies like The Matrix 4. The movies will be available at no additional cost.

Prior to the pandemic, the movie's original release date was May 21, 2021, which would have put the movie in competition with the fourth John Wick movie also starring Keanu Reeves. In case you're wondering, John Wick 4 (final title also TBD) had its release date pushed to 2022.

Wait, there is seriously a fourth Matrix film?

Yes! News of a new, fourth Matrix film surfaced in an exclusive Variety story in August 2019, where Warner Bros. producers confirmed the movie's development.

“We could not be more excited to be re-entering The Matrix with Lana,” said Warner Bros. Picture Group chariman Toby Emmerich. “Lana is a true visionary — a singular and original creative filmmaker — and we are thrilled that she is writing, directing and producing this new chapter in The Matrix universe.”

Principal photography for The Matrix 4 began in February 2020 and continued until March. When the coronavirus pandemic began and kept the movie from filming in Europe early on, a reported eight weeks were added to the films' original schedule. In June 2020, TMZ published paparazzi photos of the movie resuming filming. In an interview, Keanu Reeves said that the pandemic did not "interrupt" the creative rhythm of the movie.

Anne-Moss and Reeves, in The Matrix (1999).Jasin Boland/Warner Bros/Village Roadshow/Kobal/Shutterstock

I missed out on the late '90s and early '00s. What is The Matrix?

The Matrix is an influential series of science-fiction action films that arguably defined mainstream sci-fi at the turn of the 21st century. The series famously starred Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Ann Moss, Laurence Fishburne, and Hugo Weaving, who played the villainous "Agent Smith."

The premise of The Matrix is that our "real" world is not real, but a false simulation we are forced to "live" in. In the real real world, mankind lost a war to advanced machines with sophisticated artificial intelligence. Aside from the few humans who live in Zion, the last living human city residing near the Earth's core "where it's still warm," most humans are no longer born but "grown" to power the machines. (Think of humans as batteries.)

In The Matrix, Neo (Reeves) awakens from the Matrix simulation and is recruited by Morpheus (Fisburne), a zealot who believes that Neo is "The One," a prophetic messiah said to end the machines' rule and lead humans to reclaiming Earth.

There are four films in the Matrix saga:

  • The Matrix (1999)
  • The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
  • The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
  • The Animatrix (2003), an anime anthology made up of nine short films. Though the movie was only released on DVD and aired on Cartoon Network, fans consider the movie equally important to the theatrical movies and necessary to understand the complete story. Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss reprise their roles for segments in The Animatrix.

Creators Lana and Lilly Wachowski cite a great many influences to The Matrix, including the 1927 film Metropolis, the action movies of Hong Kong director John Woo, science-fiction literature (especially the work of authors Wiliam Gibson and Philip K. Dick), American comic books (Grant Morrison's The Invisibles), Japanese manga and anime (the movies Ninja Scroll and Akira), and religious mythology and philosophy.

Many critics also frequently point out Matrix as a transgender allegory. This was confirmed years later by Lilly Wachowski herself.

"The Matrix stuff was all about the desire for transformation but it was all coming from a closeted point of view," Wachowski said in an August 2020 video produced by Netflix. "I'm glad people are talking about the movies with a trans narrative. I love how meaningful those films are to trans people." The Wachowskis themselves are trans women, having come out and transitioned in the years after the films' release.

Reeves and Hugo Weaving, in The Matrix Revolutions. As of February 1, 2021, Weaving was not confirmed to appear in The Matrix 4.Jasin Boland/Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock

Where can I watch the trailer for Matrix 4?

As of February 1, 2021, there is no trailer yet available for The Matrix 4. With filming completed and visual effects still in its finishing stages, it's safe to not expect a trailer until spring 2021 or summer 2021.

What is the plot and story of The Matrix 4?

As of February 1, 2021, there is no official plot synopsis available. And because the original film trilogy closed on a definitive ending (in 2003's The Matrix Revolutions), it is truly anyone's guess what the next story of Neo and the Matrix will be about.

While it's easy to dismiss the movie as another Hollywood reboot, there is actually something inherent to the Matrix mythology that lends itself to, well, exactly that. Given the choice of returning actors and the secrecy of the new actors, this opens up all sorts of questions and possibilities for the story of Matrix 4.

We can confidently guess that The Matrix 4 is a sequel to the originals and not a remake of the first movie. But the Matrix's deep roots in religious and philosophical themes, including but not limited to Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism, lends itself to a literal and metaphorical understanding of death and rebirth. Coupled with the series' techno science-fiction universe, we might actually call The Matrix 4 a "reboot."

Aside from its story influences, The Matrix is still remembered and celebrated for its breakthrough visual effects.Moviestore/Shutterstock

Who is starring in The Matrix 4?

Only a handful of the original Matrix trilogy cast will return in The Matrix 4. The rst of the cast will be made up of newcomers, though they're hardly no-name faces. The cast of The Matrix 4 is, thus far:

  • Keanu Reeves as "Neo," the protagonist of the original trilogy.
  • Carrie-Ann Moss as "Trinity," one of Neo's mentors and love interest in the original trilogy.
  • Jada Pinket Smith as "Niobe," a supporting character from both The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. The captain of the nimble, three-man ship Logos, Niobe is one of the few to have killed an Agent and survived an encounter with Smith.
  • Lambert Wilson as "The Merovingian," a secondary villain in both The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. Wilson reprises his role from the movies. He is characterized like a leader of a crime syndicate. As a "trafficker of information," the Merovingian run a smuggling ring for exiled programs.

The rest of the confirmed cast of The Matrix 4 occupy undisclosed roles.

  • Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman, The Trial of the Chicago 7)
  • Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
  • Priyanka Chopra (Quantico)
  • Jessica Henwick (Iron Fist)
  • Jonathan Groff (Frozen, Mindhunter)
  • Toby Onwumere (Sense8)
  • Max Riemelt (Sense8)
  • Eréndira Ibarra (Sense8)
  • Andrew Caldwell (iZombie)
  • Brian J. Smith (Sense8)
  • Ellen Hollman (Love and Monsters)

Laurence Fishburne, who starred as Morpheus in the original film series, was "not invited" for The Matrix 4, according to Fishburne in a New York Magazine interview in August 2020. Fishburne said of his exclusion: “I have not been invited. Maybe that will make me write another play. I wish them well. I hope it’s great,” Fishburne said.

In the original Variety story from August 2019, it was reported that Fishburne's Morpheus was going to be recast with a younger actor, implying a story involving time travel. Variety only reported from anonymous sources that the character was being recast for "a younger take."

Laurence Fishburne, who starred as "Morpheus" in the original Matrix trilogy, will not return for 2021's The Matrix 4.Melinda Sue Gordon/Warner Bros/Village Roadshow/Kobal/Shutterstock

Who else is working on Matrix 4?

Aside from Lana Wachowski, Aleksandar Hemon and David Mitchell are helping out on the script. Both previously contributed to the Wachowski’s Netflix science-fiction series Sense8. Mitchell also wrote the novel Cloud Atlas, which the Wachowskis adapted into a movie in 2012.

Legendary Hong Kong martial arts choreographer Yuen Woo-ping, who designed the onscreen action of the first three movies, is not returning for the fourth Matrix movie.

Where can I watch the original Matrix movies?

Once upon a time, all four Matrix movies came and went on Netflix on a regular basis. However, ever since the launch of HBO Max, all the Matrix films became permanent staples on the WarnerMedia streaming service, HBO Max. You can also purchase the movies through your preferred digital storefront, including iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, etc.

Physical media is another option. Packaged collections of all four movies are available on DVD, Blu-ray, and 4K Blu-ray.

The Matrix 4 will be released in theaters and HBO Max on December 22, 2021.

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