Why 'The Matrix' film series has staying power

“The Matrix: Resurrections,” which filmed in San Francisco last year, is set in a dystopian world that isn’t too unrecognizable from our own.
Atmosphere at "The Matrix Resurrections" Red Carpet U.S. Premiere Screening at The Castro Theatre on December 18, 2021 in San Francisco, California. Photo credit Steve Jennings/ Getty Images
By , KCBS Radio

"The Matrix: Resurrections," which filmed in San Francisco last year, is set in a dystopian world that isn't too unrecognizable from our own.

After premiering at the Castro Theater in San Francisco last Saturday, the fourth installment of "The Matrix" series released in theaters on Wednesday, 18 years after the third film. With advances in technology since then, the original films arguably foreshadowed where we are now.

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"I think whenever we are talking about technological dystopia, there is an inevitable loop," Charisse L'pree Corsbie-Massay, Associate Professor of Communication at Syracuse University's SI Newhouse School of Public Communication, told KCBS Radio in an interview on Wednesday morning.

"So, this film is also the outcome of dystopic films through the 20th century (like) '1984,' 'Brave New World,'" she added. "But also as with any good satire dystopia, it's prescient. We're thinking about the worst that could happen, and lo and behold, we kept moving down this line."

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L'pree Corsbie-Massay said "The Matrix" series has grappled with timeless philosophical questions, including the nature of free will, and she believes the original is the definitive movie of the internet age.

She said the series has staying power because of its widespread appeal, especially amid the advancement of social media and virtual, augmented and mixed reality technology. Facebook's forthcoming "Metaverse," for instance, isn’t much of a leap from the "Matrix" in which the series' human characters virtually reside.

"I think that the extended story and the staying power makes this definitive," she said of "The Matrix." "I think there are other films that have touched on different issues — perhaps sometimes more complexly, sometimes more interestingly — but this one is so accessible that makes it valuable to the largest part of the audience."

Since the last film came out in 2003, L'pree Corsbie-Massay said she's often "met with blank stares" by some of her college-aged students when she references "The Matrix" in class. With the release of "Resurrections," that might not last long because of its technological and philosophical relevance.

And because of the series’ star.

Keanu Reeves, who starred as Neo in the first three films and plays Thomas Anderson in the fourth, has returned to prominence over the last decade after headlining the "John Wick" series over the last decade.

"The sort-of resurgence of Keanu Reeves … brings new viewers to all of his old work," she said. "I think that this film, even for viewers who hadn't seen it, the buzz around it is inviting them to go back."

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images