With Neo ready to plug back in with an unexpected reboot of the franchise, I’ve done what many others have and revisited the film that started it all. I’m old enough to remember though what it was like when The Matrix first came to theaters in 1999. It felt like a revelation. Both of filmmaking and for the idea we all exist within a simulation. It’s a movie that has stayed with me ever since I first saw it. But just because I think it’s a classic doesn’t mean younger generations have watched it. And when Keanu Reeves himself explained The Matrix to some teenagers, he got a reaction that would have been blasphemous twenty years ago.
Reeves and his The Matrix Resurrections costar Carrie-Anne Moss sat down for an interview with Alex Heath of The Verge. They discussed Epic Games’ The Matrix Awakens, the Metaverse, cryptocurrency, cyberpunk, VR porn, and their returning film franchise. (This is the interview where that amazing clip of Reeves laughing at NFTs came from.)
Another moment, starting at the 7:10 mark, was just as cool though. The action-star shared a story that made us say “whoa.” Keanu talked about the time he explained The Matrix to three teenagers who haven’t seen it. The response he got is dramatically different from the one most viewers had more than two decades ago.
“Well there’s this guy who’s in a kind of virtual world. And he finds out that there’s a real world and he’s really questioning what’s real and what’s not real. And he really wants to know what’s real,” explained Reeves. That description omits the kung fu, but overall it’s accurate. It’s also an idea that apparently plays very differently with a younger audience.
“Why?” asked one his friend’s kids. “Who cares if it’s real?”
Sounds like a real Cypher! Not that she gets that reference. But the man who stopped Cypher didn’t mind. Because he’s the best and always keeps an open mind, Reeves had a simple but powerful reaction. “Awesome,” he said. Which is fitting since that also accurately describes The Matrix.