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Please Don’t Remake ‘The Matrix’

Warner Bros. is desperate to capitalize on its IP, but there is no way to replicate the experience of the original ‘Matrix’

(Getty Images/Warner Bros./Ringer illustration)
(Getty Images/Warner Bros./Ringer illustration)

They’re coming for Neo, for Morpheus, for Trinity, for Tank, for Dozer. An armada of heartless, soulless, unstoppable henchmen in $1,000 sunglasses and $10,000 suits. The most dastardly villains on this plane of existence or any other: Hollywood executives! Get thee behind me, Warner Bros.! Stay away from The Matrix! If I so much as hear Ansel Elgort say the word Whoa in any context I’m coming to your houses and doing that thing where I casually stretch in such a way that cracks all the bones in my neck! Leave it alone!

They won’t, obviously. It has already begun. The Hollywood Reporter reported on Tuesday night that a “relaunch” of the 1999 sci-fi-dude-bro classic The Matrix is in the offing. Details are vague though admittedly not, in and of themselves, offensive: Zak Penn to write, maybe. Michael B. Jordan to star, maybe. Via anonymous sources, lip service, at least, is paid to the truism that the Wachowski siblings, as the trilogy’s writer/directors/masterminds, would need to give a grudging thumbs-up to any new developments. Here, on that topic, is a beautifully Keanu Reevesian quote from Keanu Reeves: “They would have to write it and direct it. And then we’d see what the story is, but yeah, I dunno, that’d be weird, but why not?”

Because, Keanu, it would suck. Have we not learned to leave well enough alone here? Weren’t the franchise’s two sequels, 2003’s The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, punishment enough? The Matrix was a shocking, glorious, once-in-a-lifetime event that proved how unrepeatable it was by leaving nothing but abject misery in its mighty wake. Myriad wayward cinematic franchises ripped off its bullets-and-leather aesthetics, but not its wit or heart or cerebrum; the social movements it inspired are considerably worse. It was a jet-black unicorn Hollywood has spent almost 20 years trying to clone, with comically disastrous results (the Angelina Jolie goof Wanted, the Underworld movies, the collected works of Zack Snyder). They oughta knock it off. Every new theoretical iteration is worse, especially the ones that involve people who worked on the first one.

Which is the other bizarre aspect here. Right after that loony Reeves quote, The Hollywood Reporter gives you this: “It is likely that Warners will look elsewhere to attract an A-list director and star.” Why do a full reboot/remake with other people when the brain trust and cast of the original are not only still active, but also in many cases still making super-bonkers action movies? The best-case scenario, amid this worst-case scenario, is a Star Wars sorta deal: Keanu and Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishburne looking grim and wizened as they solemnly and ceremonially hand over their guns and shades and chaps or whatever to the next generation. But even that premise lacks any sense of surprise or uncertainty. There is no possible way to replicate the surreal experience of walking into the original Matrix blind, with no idea what was happening or what would happen, or even what kind of movie this was. It succeeded so thoroughly that all its tricks and innovations are now fully internalized. You can’t remake emotions, man.

Then again, a “young Morpheus” prequel deal is one suggestion in that report, and that, come to think of it, sounds pretty dope. Provided you get Michael B. Jordan and the cast/brain trust of The Raid. Gritty and wry and action-packed. Sounds rad, right?

No! Stop that! This is how they get you. Don’t fall for it. Any new Matrix film, be it a reboot or a remake or any other re-, would be a greater comedy, and tragedy, than many intentional comedies and tragedies. Don’t swallow any pill, of any color, these people offer you. Just find a rotary phone and get the hell out.