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‘Matrix Resurrections’ revolution: Inside the franchise’s sprawling influence

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‘Matrix Resurrections’ revolution: Inside the franchise’s sprawling influence

In 1999, Keanu Reeves chose the red pill to go down the rabbit hole — and modern cinema and pop culture would never be the same.

Even in the landscape of that unforgettable year in film, “The Matrix” was a wholly unique blend of cyberpunk sci-fi, superhero thriller and mind-bending existential drama.

Director-siblings the Wachowskis went for broke with a dystopian nightmare about a hacker-hero named Neo (Reeves) destined to be a savior with the help of a band of rebels headed by cyber-warriors Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne).

The ambitious storytelling was equalled by lush visuals: dripping green lines of computer code, a post-apocalyptic field of battery-humans encased in pods, androgynous protagonists sporting S&M-tinged virtual wardrobes and defying the laws of physics to dodge bullets. 

“The Matrix Resurrections” — out Wednesday in theaters and on HBO Max — is the fourth installment of the incredibly influential franchise.
NY Post Photo Composite

“The Matrix” also had its share of detractors, who scoffed at the stoned-college-freshman notion of reality as an illusion. But whether you love or hate it, there’s no denying that, like one of the film’s menacing mechanical octopuses, the Wachowskis’ creation got its tentacles into just about every aspect of pop culture. It launched endless discussions, memes and a visual vernacular in both film and fashion that persists more than 20 years later. Recently, Kim Kardashian sported an outfit a la Matrix for an outing.

The physics-defying stunts in 1999’s “The Matrix” led to a slew of copycats and set a new standard for action scenes. Above, Neo (Reeves) battles Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) in a famous subway scene from the film.
©Warner Bros/courtesy Everett C

The subsequent chapters of the franchise that would follow in 2003, “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions,” expanded the Wachowskis’ vision, though neither lived up to the promise of the original.

But hope springs eternal. So ahead of the release of the latest installment, “Resurrections,” in theaters and on HBO Max on Dec. 22, we look at the sprawling influence matrix of “The Matrix.” 

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprise their iconic roles as Neo and Trinity for the fourth installment of the franchise, “Resurrections.”
©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett C

Film

Bullet time

Visual effects supervisor John Gaeta designed a shot that featured Neo bending backward in slow motion to evade bullets. It became a wildly popular style in action movies after “The Matrix.” The Benedict Cumberbatch-starrer “Sherlock” adapted the technique to showcase its hero’s analysis of a moment in time. The technique has also been parodied in countless comedies and animated films, including “Shrek,” “Deadpool,” “Scary Movie,” “The Simpsons,” and “Kung Fu Panda.”

Unconventional superheroes

With his willowy physique and terse delivery, Keanu Reeves was nobody’s idea of a typical hero figure at the time. In creating Neo, the Wachowskis opened the door for a genre of sleeker, edgier characters — think Christopher Nolan’s Batman, Marvel’s Doctor Strange and Quentin Tarantino’s Beatrix Kiddo in “Kill Bill,” all of whom also happen to be schooled in martial arts. 

Comic book adaptations

The Wachowskis have said “The Matrix” was inspired in part by a request for them to create an original comic book, and the film’s graphic novel-esque aesthetic can be seen in films such as 2010’s “Kick-Ass,” 2008’s “Wanted,” and 2005’s “Sin City” and “V for Vendetta” — the latter of which was adapted by the Wachowskis for director James McTeigue.

Keanu Reeves in “John Wick.”
Courtesy Everett Collection

Virtual Realities

“The Matrix” spawned a virtual reality bonanza, from Cameron Crowe’s 2001 thriller “Vanilla Sky” with Tom Cruise to Christopher Nolan’s 2010 classic “Inception” to Steven Spielberg’s 2018 adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel “Ready Player One,” about a near-future in which people leave the hellscape of a trash-filled Earth behind in the virtual gaming world.

The “John Wick” franchise

Perhaps nowhere is the influence of “The Matrix” so obvious as it is in this wildly successful Keanu headliner. The “gun fu” of “John Wick” owes much of its style to “The Matrix,” and the franchise nodded to this connection in “John Wick 3,” in which Reeves’ character echoes a line from the original “Matrix” in his request for weaponry: “Guns. Lots of guns.”

Fashion

After the film’s release, it spurred fashion trends on streets and runways, including the Christian Dior 1999 collection. Vogue reported that Dior was “heavily influenced” by the film, with this season’s collection featuring sweeping trench coats and leather.

In 2017, “The Matrix” was resurrected on the runway with long coats and tight leather looks by Balenciaga, Vetements, Balmain and Alexander McQueen.

The resurgence continued the next year with Alexander Wang and Off-White’s collections featuring “Matrix”-reminiscent shades and skintight black leather. 

FRANCE - JULY 15:  Haute Couture fall -winter 1999 -2000 Fashion show In Paris, France On July 15, 1999 - Christian Dior.
Two models show “Matrix”-inspired outfits for Christian Dior during the label’s 1999 Paris fashion show.
Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Kim Kardashian in a “Matrix”-inspired ensemble.
Kim Kardasian Instagram

Culture

Trans visibility

The film series’ success increased the profile of its directors, the Wachowskis. Both siblings came out as trans in the years following the initial film’s release, shining a light on trans people. In 2020, Lilly Wachowski said in an interview that “The Matrix” was a metaphor for coming out as transgender. “I love how meaningful those films are to trans people, and the way they come up to me and say, ‘These movies saved my life,’” she said.

Lily and Lana Wachowski.
Lilly and Lana Wachowski
Getty Images

Simulation theory

Online chatter about the idea that our universe is actually a computer simulation has ramped up in a significant way since “The Matrix.” Philosopher Nick Bostrom posited in 2003 that it was more likely than not that our reality is a simulation. Elon Musk has also espoused the theory, saying he thinks “there’s a one in billions chance” humans aren’t in a simulation. Scientists have pointed out that there is no actual evidence to support this theory. Last year, the documentary “A Glitch in the Matrix” explored simulation theory, including profiling a man who killed his family after concluding the matrix was real.

In the 1999 film, Neo (Reeves) is presented with a choice of either ignorance or awakening, represented by a blue pill and a red pill. He chooses the red pill and is awakened to his world’s true reality.
©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett C

The phrase: “A glitch in the matrix”

“The Matrix” is bursting with quotable moments — “I know kung fu,” “There is no spoon” — but, “a glitch in the matrix” has become popular shorthand for something that seems uncanny or eerily familiar (just take a look at the sprawling Glitch in the Matrix subreddit).

A still from the now iconic film, “The Matrix.” The movie’s visual vernacular continues to influence film, fashion and culture more than 20 years after its release.
©Warner Bros/courtesy Everett C

The phrase “Red-pilling”

This “Matrix”-inspired term for waking up to reality was co-opted by alt-right circles to describe the process of “realizing” the wrongness of progressive concepts. In 2020, it had a moment in the spotlight when Elon Musk tweeted “take the red pill,” without further explanation, to which Ivanka Trump replied, “Taken!” Lilly Wachowski subsequently replied, “F–k both of you.”

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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