• Film

Keanu Reeves Explains “The Matrix” Trilogy

Keanu Reeves reprises his iconic role as Neo in The Matrix Resurrections (2021), the much-awaited follow-up to The Matrix (1999) directed by Lana Wachowski. Keanu launched his Neo in the first movie of the franchise, The Matrix in 1999, and its two sequels released six months apart in 2003, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, written and directed by the Wachowskis, costarring Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity and Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus. 

Follow Reeves’ take on the mythical Matrix universe in quotes from exclusive interviews conducted by the journalists of the Hollywood Foreign Press, where he offers some explanations of the complex themes addressed by this landmark film trilogy.

Keanu Reeves described his first reaction to reading the script of The Matrix. “I was struck by the storyline, the ideas and the way the story was told, the language, the dialogue. I thought it really was great. It’s a film about questioning, awakening, consciousness, love, support, faith, evolution, man’s relationship to machines, Kung Fu cinema. In a contemporary sense, it has the traditional classic mythical figures of the hero, the wise man, the warriors, the guides, the prophecy, the oracle.”

He wouldn’t call Neo a computer nerd, but a questioning soul. “I don’t want to define him as just another computer geek, I don’t know what that actually means. I think of him as being cloistered. He is a hacker and he is obsessed by something, so he is using his mind and his imagination searching for an answer to a question, to help him define his world and to reconcile himself. He is feeling that there’s something wrong with the world and it’s driving him mad.”

About choosing the blue pill to leave your perception of reality as is, or the red pill to discover the truth, he said: “In the film, it’s like a crossroads, it’s not about being safe or unsafe, it’s about being asleep or awake. It is also a morality play, ‘should I take the high road or the low road?’ And that occurs in the lives of everyone I know, I am faced with that choice every day. What the film wants is for you to investigate yourself what is the nature of reality.”

This is how the actor explained the concept of The Matrix, as presented in the first picture. “The whole film is about machines turning on their masters, it’s about the switch, how if something that’s a machine gains intelligence, it asks questions, it wants freedom. It’s also about evolution and change, and it is not a dark film, it’s a very hopeful film. At the end, Neo gets to experience love, and what love has opened up for him is that he has taken on responsibility and he can fly, which is a metaphor. ”

As for the underlying message of the film, Keanu concluded: “Part of the film is about thinking for yourself and not taking anything for granted, not accepting any system of thought, just on the basis of its existence or the power it represents. You don’t have to live your life that way, you can choose your own life. The way the characters interact with each other is about respect, faith, support. And hopefully, people will get the message that, when you exist that way, sharing and supporting with the people around you, you’re going to get into some battles, but you’ll live a richer, better life.”

Keanu Reeves underlined the spirituality of this science-fiction trilogy when speaking about The Matrix Reloaded in 2003. “It’s a film that utilizes a lot of mythic and religious themes, that’s inherent in the piece itself. It’s not specifically one thing, it’s a synthesis of many different things. There might be an aspect of the rebirth, of dying and being reborn from Christianity or of freeing one’s mind in the context of Buddhism and Siddhartha’s journey.”

About the connection between love and spirituality, he said. “There’s great humanity in the piece, it’s the investigation of humanness, and the love and the union that two people can have for each other, specifically with Neo and Trinity, was an important part of it. So the Wachowskis wanted to convey that, it was a strong motif in the film, which has a lot of orientation about the aspect of love. So what they tried to do was to show the beauty of the love of these two people, and it’s mystical in what their union can become. This is a very positive, life-affirming film, so for me to have the experience of participating in that has given me so much, and I hope that it gives something in that regard to the people who view it.”

After playing Neo in the third film of the trilogy, The Matrix Revolutions, the actor discovered a personal message for himself. “What I’ve been thinking about recently is the title of the film, Revolutions, and Neo eventually asks for peace, so for me, the idea of connecting Revolutions and peace together is really beautiful. When this isolated character, Thomas A. Anderson, comes to this place at the end of the third film and asks for peace, I felt that it was a new kind of revolution. Because revolution is always connoted with violence, so for me, I am all for anything that’s asking for peace or amelioration or any kind of dialogue other than violent conflict.”

And here’s the actor’s interpretation of the philosophy of The Matrix trilogy. “In all three films the Wachowskis found a wonderful platform to talk about life, they’ve taken such strong storytelling traditions and they’ve reinvented them. Neo goes from a solitary, isolated figure to the classical myth of the journey of self-discovery, to be true or to know thyself, he finds his own voice. He’s the one character who has contact with all of the conscious entities in the film, Machine City, the programs, Zion, the Matrix, and in that way in the end he sees the energy and the beauty of each entity. It’s like the birth of compassion through experience, he understands everyone’s right to life. It’s almost like this classical phrase, the struggle for compassionate consciousness.”