New franchise star Neil Patrick Harris says The Matrix 4 represents a shift in terms of the visual style employed by writer-director Lana Wachowski. Harris appears in an as-yet-undisclosed role in the sci-fi/action sequel, alongside returning stars Keanu Reeves (Neo) and Carrie-Ann Moss (Trinity). The long-awaited third sequel to the hit 1999 genre-defining movie is currently filming in Berlin, following a lengthy delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Wachowski, who co-wrote and co-directed all three films in the original trilogy alongside her sister Lilly, tackled this fourth film alone.
Harris isn't the only new cast member in The Matrix 4. Joining the cast are Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Watchmen, Candyman), Jessica Henwick (Game of Thrones), and Jonathan Groff (Mindhunter), among others. Jada Pinkett-Smith (Niobe) and Lambert Wilson (The Merovingian) are expected to reprise their roles from the sequels too. The plot of the much-anticipated film is being kept tightly under wraps, though speculation says that Reeves and Moss will take on different roles in the movie, Mateen, and Henwick stepping up as the new leads. This could, of course, turn out to be wrong, given the secrecy around the plots in the franchise. One thing is for sure, though: Wachowski is expected to make extensive use of wirework stunts, as well as groundbreaking CGI, just like the first three did.
Now, speaking on Sirius XM's Jess Cagle Show (via THR), Harris, who claims his role is "small," says that Wachowski's visual style has changed for the upcoming movie. Harris adds that the film is ambitious, which is no surprise given the grand scope and ambition of the original trilogy. The How I Met Your Mother actor goes on to contradict his previous comment about the size of his role, saying that he's always wanted to play the "lead" in a blockbuster movie and that The Matrix 4 is fulfilling his desire. You can read his full comments below:
I think she has a great inclusive energy and her style has shifted visually from what she had done to what she is currently doing. I've always wanted to be a lead in a big giant action movie with wires and stuff. And this is not bad for me, but it's certainly tangential and fun for me to be able to play in the sandbox a little bit.
Harris's reference to being the lead might be an inadvertent turn of phrase. However, it is entirely possible, given his continued presence on set, that he isn't merely playing a small role and could be appearing as a significant character, and perhaps even the film's villain. Regardless of his actual role, he's been on set long enough to have some insight into the visual style Wachowski is using for The Matrix 4. The Matrix was a phenomenon on release, redefining what a sci-fi action thriller could look like, not least because of the distinctive visual style that the Wachowskis brought to the film.
Combining manga influences, with Kung-Fu wirework stunts and wrapping it up in a sci-fi shell that referenced neo-Westerns, the 1999 movie set the tone for a generation of action films. Its influence can arguably still be seen in action movies, most glaringly in Reeves' John Wick movies. It is, therefore, exciting to hear that Lana Wachowski has shifted her visual style for The Matrix 4, hopefully meaning that she will push the boundaries of what can be achieved in cinema once more.