2.10.2020 6:18 PM

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Matrix 4 set photos disprove a major theory about Neo's return

It's not a glitch.

Shooting for the much-anticipated Matrix 4 is underway in San Francisco, with Keanu Reeves and Carrie Ann Moss reprising their roles as Neo and Trinity in what director Lana Wachowski promises is a continuation, not a reboot. New set photos reveal our first look at the world of Matrix 4, and it's eerily familiar, but not for the reasons you might think.

What's more, Neo's new look seems to refute one of the most popular theories about how Matrix 4 (actual name TBA) could star two characters who both died at the end of the original trilogy.

The new photos seem to show Keanu as Neo looking up at something in the sky, while Wachowski hovers nearby. Reeves sports an all-black blazered look with a beanie over his shoulder-length hair. It's obviously reminiscent of another iconic Keanu role: John Wick.

Following the divisive ending that was The Matrix Revolutions, Keanu's title role in the John Wick franchise again placed him atop the action movie genre. His longer locks were more a trademark of that character, an underworld assassin pulled out of retirement after some mobsters murder his dog.

We're not suggested that Keanu is playing Wick in The Matrix 4 — though they're both somehow scheduled to release on May 21, 2021 — but it's still interesting to see Neo rocking a new look in this upcoming sequel. It could actually be an important clue about Matrix 4's plot and themes.

In short, it means some time has passed since the original trilogy. We're getting a more grizzled neo, which seems to suggest this movie won't be a prequel, as many people have speculated. Matrix 4 Neo seems to have moved beyond the clean-shaven look of a young man plucked from obscurity. It's possible he's simply more at home in his role as The One now, so his look is more relaxed and less flashy.

One thing that's not entirely clear: Is this in a reconstituted Matrix or has the "real world" recovered to an enormous degree from the state it was in at the time of Revolutions? (We're guessing it's the former.)

The head-to-toe black is a Matrix mainstay, but here's it's a bit more nuanced than in the original films. There's no iconic floor-length duster coat, instead just a blazer. We see him looking up into a sunny sky; no ominous rimless sunglasses in sight.

Get up, Neo.Warner

If Matrix 4 isn't a prequel of some sort, that raises another big question: What about Morpheus? Laurence Fishburne won't be in this movie, as far as we know, and after Yahya Abdul Mateen II we assumed he'd been picked to play a younger version of the character. Of course, this is the Matrix, so people can change their appearances without much explanation needed (remember The Oracle), but these set photos only make Matrix 4 more mysterious, not less.

On any other movie, we wouldn't put as much thought into one character's outfit, but the Matrix has always been about the costumes just as much as the bullet-time Kung fu or the sci-fi twists. For now, you can probably rule out a full-fledged prequel.

As for the idea that John Wick 4 and Matrix 4 are actually the same movie, that actually seems like a little less of a longshot.

The Matrix 4 comes to theaters May 21, 2021.

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