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If you’ve ever had trouble putting into words what you love about The Matrix franchise, the newly released fourth installment, The Matrix Resurrections, is here to help. Like Neo did in the first film (and Alice before that), all you have to do is follow the “White Rabbit” to see the way.
**SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers for The Matrix Resurrections lie below!**
About 25 minutes into the highly self-aware Warner Bros. movie, there’s a scene in which members of the Warner Bros. marketing team are meeting with Keanu Reeves’ superstar game developer, Thomas Anderson, who has made his game-changing mark with a trilogy of games called The Matrix. How convenient.
Set to Jefferson Airplane’s ever apropos 1967 classic, “White Rabbit,” the meeting montage tripily devolves into a string of marketing buzzwords and catchphrases that the team keeps dropping in hopes of defining what mades the hit game work in the first place, as corporate now wants to cash in on a reboot. And all those phrases can be easily applied to what made the real, actual Matrix films work as well.
Before the song kicks in though, we catch up with Mr. Anderson sadly requesting a refill on his meds from his blue-spectacled Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris). After taking a blue pill (but is it the one to make him larger, or the one to make him small?), we then see née Neo meeting with WB’s best and brightest, discussing the focus group material collected on rebooting The Matrix.
Marketer supreme Christina Ricci, aka Gwyn de Vere, aka Wednesday Addams, conveys to the group the “key word association with the brand,” with “originality” and “fresh” taking the top spots. If you don’t feel in on the joke at this point, just wait two minutes.
Cue “White Rabbit.” A headbanded Mr. Anderson symbolically walks on a treadmill, as the marketers debate what made The Matrix different revolves through his troubled mind.
“It effed with your head,” says one man-bunned marketer, twice.
People want their “synaptic WTF light on” says another marketer.
Another pill. “White Rabbit” builds. More treadmilling. More coffee, served by an Alice in Wonderland reading barista.
“We need guns, lots of guns.”
“Matrix means mayhem.”
Alas, “Mindless action is not on brand.”
Then the question of what The Matrix is truly about comes up, with everything from “transpolitics” to “cryptofascism” to being a metaphor for “capitalist exploitation” being mentioned.
But, as astute marketer Jude (Andrew Caldwell) points out, when you really get right down to it, all anyone thinks about when they think of The Matrix can be summed up in one word: “Bullet time.” And yes, it’s very Matrix to think that’s one word.
All good things to keep in mind as the game makers begin working on Matrix 4. And, as de Vere says, “who knows how many more?”
It’s a heckuva meta sequence, no doubt. But the best part of this little rabbit hole is that as the movie goes on, it proceeds to deliver all those aforementioned aspects of the franchise, including, thankfully, plenty of “bullet time.”
And as any good marketer knows, rule number one is to give the people what they want.
The Matrix Resurrections is in theaters and on HBO Max now.