Hot news fresh from THR is that Warner Bros. is reportedly seeking to reboot The Matrix, the iconic 1999 cyber punk sci-fi was created by the Wachowski siblings. The report states they are not currently involved with any efforts to reboot the franchise, but they could possibly be courted to lend the project their blessing. In today’s Hollywood “reboot” is something of a dirty word, but this news isn’t quite as terrible as it initially seems.
Though it’s always concerning when a studio seeks to restart a franchise without its originators involved (see: The Terminator franchise), in this case it would likely be for the best. Not to diminish the Wachoski’s talent (Sense8 on Netflix is highly underrated), but their last few feature outings have been exceptionally disappointing. Jupiter Ascending was abortive and Cloud Atlas drowned under its own unyielding scope. Let’s also not forget the lackluster sequels to The Matrix itself. Here we have a George Lucas type scenario where other talents are better suited to expand on a franchise than the people responsible for creating it.
The beautiful thing about the Wachowski’s work is that it’s inherently designed for retelling. The Matrix is a unique fantasy world of infinite possibilities that cross a multitude of genres. Just look at The Animatrix as evidence of that. And though Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions weren’t the most desirable sequels, they did introduce the concept that both the program and the war between humans and the machines is a constant cycle of destruction and rebirth. Revolutions capped franchise by essentially giving it a fresh start. There’s a new Matrix with new rules and new conflicts yet to be explored. Another installment wouldn’t have to be a reboot, but rather a continuation of the lore with a new cast of characters.
This project will be as strong as the talent Warner Bros. decides to bring in. The studio has no shortage of capable directors in their roster who could deliver a stellar film. David Fincher, Matthew Vaughn, and Matt Reeves are just a few that spring to mind who have sensibilities perfect for the franchise. If Warner Bros. plays their cards right, this could be the ideal modern tentpole franchise. It’s a known property with a built-in fanbase and skews towards the R-rated genre film that’s slowly reclaiming prominence in Hollywood.
The subject matter also couldn’t be more topical. The world is even more technologically driven than it was at The Matrix’s inception. We have virtual reality systems in our home, AI in our pockets, and a global political climate that gives us a creeping suspicion we may just be living in a simulation gone awry. The opportunity for such picture perfect satire shouldn’t be passed up. If ever we needed to revisit that avocado-hued cyberscape, it’s now.
We’ll be sure to follow up on this as it develops, but for now, it’s all just speculation. However, Warner Bros. should do their best to seize this opportunity. A reboot typically isn’t worth doing if there’s no likelihood of doing it better than the original. The Matrix can certainly be improved upon if the vision behind it is strong enough–but it may require a leap of faith to test if the rules can be bent.