Actress Jessica Henwick Shines in New “Matrix” Movie

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The fourth installment of the Matrix series – a hugely popular Hollywood film franchise – was released in Japan on December 17, and then globally on December 22.

Directed and co-written by Lana Wachowski, Matrix resurrections is the first Matrix movie to be released in 18 years.

The first opus in 1999 – titled The matrix, and co-directed and co-written by the Wachowski sisters – is widely regarded as groundbreaking, as CNN described in its December 21 online edition:

“This film has become a true cultural phenomenon and a turning point in sci-fi storytelling and visual effects, redefining Hollywood blockbusters of the 21st century.”

The matrix was then followed by The Matrix Reloaded and Matrix revolutions (both in 2003), resulting in high expectations for Matrix resurrections.

On this occasion, however, an actress of Asian origin, Jessica Henwick, was more present than the Hollywood titan Keanu Reeves, who played the main character of Neo.

It is unprecedented for an actress of such ethnicity to appear so prominently in a major film produced by a major Hollywood studio.

The matrix of resurrections is also a masterpiece

Keanu Reeves is pictured on the green carpet as he arrives at the premiere of “The Matrix Resurrections” on December 18, 2021, at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. (Jose Carlos Fajardo / Bay Area News Group via AP)

When The matrix released in 1999, the internet had yet to dominate society, and some viewers struggled to keep up with the notion of simulated reality portrayed in the film.

Nevertheless, the “bullet time” filming technique which was used to The matrix – which features characters jumping, freezing in mid-air, then kicking the enemy after a 360-degree spin – was impressive back then, and it’s still spectacular today.

However, in the 18-year period since Matrix revolutions, the technology mentioned in the trilogy has evolved tremendously, so I was a little worried about how the fourth installment would approach this problem.

But the genius that is Wachowski did well. She has succeeded in making a stimulating and breathtaking film that is beyond imagination.

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in a scene from “The Matrix Resurrections”. (Images from Warner Bros via AP)

There has also been a positive response in the West. On December 22, an article in the Atlantic wrote:

“Lana Wachowski has made a film that addresses the upheavals of contemporary life, critiques the general culture of the Hollywood reboot, and is surprisingly sweet work of nostalgia.”

Meanwhile, on December 21, the Crooked Marquee said: “

Matrix resurrections is a nostalgic triumph that reminds us of what – and who – we loved about the original trilogy, not just a familiar path.

Criticism of the original trilogy is inevitable

Neo, played by Reeves, is the savior of a war between humans and machines in the Matrix trilogy.

In Matrix resurrections, the character Neo bears his birth name, Thomas A. Anderson – and Anderson is a successful video game designer who works based on his memories as Neo.

Anderson is complimented by many gamers, who tell him their lives have been changed by his work, but the designer struggles to separate reality from illusion. Meanwhile, Neo’s ally, Trinity (played by Carrie-Anne Moss) appears in the fourth installment as an ordinary housewife called Tiffany.

One day, Bugs (played by Jessica Henwick) – a mysterious woman who has searched for Anderson for about 20 years – shows up with Morpheus (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II).

They reveal a terrifying truth to Anderson. Although suspicious, Anderson decides to face the truth. Just like in the first installment, he refuses the blue pill, which would bring him back to a simple everyday life – and he chooses the red pill instead.

In the West, and especially in the United States, the original Matrix trilogy had a huge influence on society and culture. Major newspapers and magazines have started using the phrase, “Do you choose the red pill or the blue pill?” When it refers to a choice between two options.

The fourth installment was made on the assumption that many people have seen the original trilogy. Viewers familiar with the first three films will no doubt be enthused by the nostalgic scenes, locations and characters.

On a personal note, I laughed at a scene involving Le Mérovingien (played by Lambert Wilson), which has also appeared in previous episodes of the franchise.

Jessica henwick

Jessica Henwick stars in Matrix Resurrections (AP).

But the star of Matrix resurrections is actress Jessica Henwick, who plays the captain of a hovercraft called The Mnemosyne.

Born in August 1992 in Surrey, England, Henwick is the daughter of a British novelist father and Singaporean mother. She appeared in the BBC series Spiritual warriors – become the first actress of East Asian origin to play a leading role in a British television drama.

Henwick went on to appear in the popular American drama HBO Game of thrones in addition to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

As I explained in a previous Sankei Shimbun Chronicle of November 29, 2019, Hollywood considers actors of East Asian origin inferior to black or Hispanic actors, and even inferior in the case of actresses.

However, as understanding of the surrounding diversity deepens, more and more actors of Asian descent are taking on major roles, such as Vietnamese-American actress Kelly Marie Tran, who appeared in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

However, Henwick’s role in Matrix resurrections is arguably more important as she saves Neo and fights bravely with her cool blue hair while maintaining a dignified demeanor – making her the star of the show.

Jessica Henwick arrives at the premiere of “The Matrix Resurrections” on Saturday, December 18, 2021 at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. (AP Photo / Noah Berger)

In fact, Henwick was given another great opportunity around the same time – to be in the Marvel movie. Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings. But in the end she chose Matrix resurrections. She compared the dilemma to choosing between the blue pill and the red pill in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly.

The Matrix trilogy was inspired by Japanese anime and manga, such as Ghost in the shell, Lupine the third, and Ichi the killer. A Japanese shinkansen appears in this latest opus (a possible tribute to Demon Slayer?) – which recalls Wachowski’s interest in Japan.

With Japanese film Drive my car Receiving much praise in the West last year, the next cinematic era could be an Asian era.

RELATED: Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s “Drive My Car” wins the Best Screenplay Award at the Cannes Film Festival

(Read it Sankei Shimbun column in japanese on this link.)

Author: Toshikazu Okada

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