Keanu Reeves got another chance to play Neo/Thomas Anderson in The Matrix Resurrections but one of his iconic lines from the original film was given to a different character. Director Lana Wachowski returned to the series that brought her and sister Lilly mainstream recognition, making one of the most meta movies ever released. The fourth Matrix film re-uses and recontextualizes a lot of the memorable characters and moments from the previous entries.
There are countless callbacks to The Matrix, including the reintroduction of the Matrix to Neo as a true concept. Back in the alter ego of Thomas Anderson, he has been convinced that the events of the previous films were all figments of his imagination that he turned into a popular video game trilogy. This allows The Matrix: Resurrections to return to the fundamentals of the first movie and re-explain them, including the red and blue pills. Another thing the movie recontextualizes is some of the dialogue from the original film.
The movie revisits well-known dialogue, such as Neo’s “I know kung-fu” quote, giving it a slight update for the new plot. The Matrix Resurrections also utilizes Reeves’ iconic “whoa” catchphrase, which he’s said over 100 times across his filmography. Even in The Matrix, audiences will remember the scene in which Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus makes an impossible leap across a rooftop, prompting Neo to say “whoa”. However, like most of the rest of the movie, the catchphrase is slightly but perfectly flipped by giving it to Morpheus instead.
Morpheus as seen in The Matrix Resurrections is not the one audiences will recognize from the original trilogy but is instead a program embodying the essence of Morpheus, played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen. In his first meeting with Neo in the new film, Neo hurriedly tries to exit the conversation, but Morpheus stops him as he repeats “Whoa, whoa, whoa”. This inverts the line from the original movie fittingly, given that this fourth Matrix entry is meant to question and challenge almost everything from the original trilogy.
The inclusion of Reeves’ catchphrase also shows another level of self-awareness of its cast. While Keanu had become a teen idol over the 90s, his role as Neo took him to a new stage of stardom and became one of his best-known roles. When the character died in The Matrix Revolutions, it didn’t seem possible for Reeves to play Neo again. Using the actor’s “whoa” catchphrase encapsulates the experience of seeing him back as Neo in The Matrix Resurrections.