Only Keanu Reeves Can Save "Matrix  4"

Many of us already feel like we're living in a simulation. What can a fourth 'Matrix' teach us today?

20 years after the world was first introduced to Neo and his black sunglasses, the Matrix franchise is returning for a fourth installment.

It's easy to imagine that the film will flop, just like Matrix 2 and 3 did. Those films were widely panned, and their titles are synonymous with disappointing sequels.

On the other hand, in many ways, there's never been a better time to return to the questions that burned at the core of the original Matrix. The possible existence of an alternate, parallel universe formed through technology, artificial intelligence, and social media has become more and more apparent in the past two decades, and talk of simulation glitches has been rampant, especially since 2016. Shows like Black Mirror and The OA have taken the blueprint that The Matrix laid out to new heights, turning reality inside out and leaping quickly from dimension to dimension.

In short, we're living in a post-Matrix universe. The wisdom that the original film imparted is now common knowledge, and most people know that reality is not as it seems. Yet no franchise or story has ever been able to determine what that might mean.

We have little time left to speculate. On and offscreen, we're all witnessing a total overhaul of reality and identity. Our futures may depend on a collective awakening and reshaping that will require mass mobilization and new ideologies. Particularly, once you become aware of the apocalyptic threat posed by climate change and the systems that created it, it can feel like you and everyone else around you are blindly walking inside a veritable matrix, being used as pawns in a large, hungry system driven by looming corporations.

This is partly why, if Matrix 4 simply tries to build on and retell the story it told back in 1999, it will be a failure. If it merely tries to make us question reality once again, if it's mostly a montage of gun violence, stunts, and spaceships, then it'll wind up bottom-dwelling where the sequels reside.

But if it builds on those old revelations—if it riffs on current events and connects to intersectional issues and 21st century philosophy—it has the potential to be as revolutionary as the first.

'The Matrix 4' Is Happening, Complete With Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Lana Wachowski

In some ways, this feels unlikely, like too much to ask from a single film. Fortunately, Lana Wachowski has signed on, which is a good sign.

But most importantly, the Matrix franchise has always had a not-so-secret weapon: Keanu Reeves.

The real-world Reeves' sudden popularity has been extensively analyzed. Some have argued it's because he represents an alternative to the Hollywood bad-guy archetype in the #MeToo era. Some have proposed that it's because he seems to know something that the rest of us are just trying to figure out. Reeves is humble, private, poised, and most of all, kind. As Neo and as himself, he exists outside our glitchy, simulated world, outside of the media's clutches, outside of illusion, blind humanism, and the bottomless greed that is at the heart of American exceptionalism and colonial violence, which will also be our doom if there isn't a massive paradigm shift sooner rather than later.

This may sound overdramatic, but—blank slate that he is—Reeves has always been the ideal greenscreen upon which to project different, radical ideas about worlds beyond the ones we accept as real or possible. Now, as Neo, he needs to show the rest of us how to get there.


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Why is Keanu Reeves the Only Good Celebrity?

It's time to hold all our celebrities to the Keanu Reeves standard of excellence.


Everyone loves Keanu Reeves, and it's not hard to figure out why.

He's kind––he once bought an ice cream cone he didn't even want just so he could sign the receipt paper for a young fan. He's generous––he quietly donates millions of dollars to philanthropic causes and famously gave away the majority of his Matrix paycheck to ensure the special effects team got paid what he thought they deserved. He's also apparently single, which makes him available.

But the craziest thing about Keanu Reeves' amazingness is that he's really not so "amazing" at all; he's just a genuinely decent person, which makes him stand out amidst the wasteland of egoism, greed, and selfishness that makes up most of celebrity culture. Keanu Reeves' behavior shouldn't be an exception amongst celebrity millionaires. It should be the baseline.

John Wick John Wick is pretty amazing, though.Credit: Niko Tavernise/Lionsgate

Many people were shocked when the #MeToo movement first swept through Hollywood, outing influential, powerful people, one after another, as sexual predators. But perhaps we should have seen it coming. Our celebrity culture revolves around putting people on pedestals solely based on how much we like their movies or music or physical appearances. We prop them up like gods, ignoring rumors about their entitlement, their meanness, and their sexism until the allegations pile up too high to ignore, and even then we defend them. We give them millions of dollars in ticket sales and downloads and merchandise, knowing full well that they treat the people around them like crap when the cameras aren't rolling. And then we're surprised when these terrible people do terrible things.

Even worse, we regard someone like Keanu Reeves as "special" for doing the things everyone else should be doing in the first place. While it's admirable that Keanu Reeves relinquishes so much out of his paychecks to make sure various behind-the-scenes teams get paid more, we should be asking why these other people who are so integral to the production of any movie––stunt teams, costume departments, camera crews, etc.––are so underpaid in the first place, especially when the leading actors get paid so much.

Why do so many actors who publicly speak out against various inequalities also tacitly accept working on sets where they get paid so much more than everyone else around them? Shouldn't more celebrities be putting their money where their mouths are and taking action like Keanu? Even celebrity charity donations tend to take place in front of cameras. Imagine if the wealthiest 1% of Americans just quietly donated because they wanted to make the world a better place––like Keanu Reeves does––rather than seeking good publicity.

That's not to say there are

no other decent, kind, and charitable celebrities. They just seem few and far between. Out of all the popular celebrities today, how many would we be truly shocked to hear accused of assault? We can't continue to allow and even celebrate consistent patterns of narcissistic behavior and then feign shock when that person's behavior escalates. Why do we continue to prop up the likes of Justin Bieber? Kanye West? Chris Brown? And why should all the goodness in Hollywood fall solely on Keanu Reeves' shoulders? It's time to hold all our celebrities to the Keanu Reeves standard of excellence.