It’s hardly a surprise given the way studios look to exploit their intellectual property and keep their money-making catalogues running, but a reboot of “The Matrix” is in the cards and the Internet is a tweet storm current of pushback right now. Don’t touch the sacred cow is the thinking and apparently some in Warner Bros. feel the same way, but the consensus within the studio has voted and a script is moving forward (Zak Penn who wrote early drafts of “The Avengers” and “X-Men” films is penning the treatment).
Given the way Hollywood works, a reboot feels inevitable and possibly a key element irking fans is that the Wachowskis are not coming back to direct (WB owns the property) and that likely means no Keanu Reeves either (he said he’d return to the series only if the Wachowskis were involved). So, like it or not, this train is moving forward — and apparently “Fantastic Four” and “Creed” star Michael B. Jordan is being eyed as a lead.
With “The Matrix” on everyone’s minds, rather than take the blue pill and forget it’s happening, we’ll take the red pill, dial in, and make the most of reality. And thus, here’s 10 directors who could take over the franchise, but keep in mind, you’re likely not going to get the David Finchers of the world involved. Much like “The Girl In The Spider’s Web” remake, you’re likely going to get a younger, hungrier filmmaker involved in the project, who grew up with the property and may have a passion for the franchise.
Of all the auteurs that have emerged in the peak-TV era, Sam Esmail might be the one most deserving of that title. His show “Mr. Robot” has such a specific vision to it, and Esmail, who repurposed the show from an unmade movie script, wrote half the episodes solo and helmed the entire second series (and will do so again with the third). It’s not strictly speaking a sci-fi show, but it might as well be, and “The Matrix” feels like one of the influences that the 39-year-old Esmail was drawing on for the series. “Mr. Robot” has had some creative issues, particularly in the second run, but the idea of letting Esmail loose in “The Matrix” is nevertheless an intriguing one.
Dan Trachtenberg directed a few acclaimed shorts (“Portal: No Escape,” “Kickin“) and has worked in nearly every department imaginable (Camera and Electrical, Editorial, First and 2nd AD). He’s even was also one of the hosts of “Totally Rad Show” and “Geekdrome,” and as a multi-hyphenate filmmaker he’s also handled various television commercials (Lexus, Nike, and Coca-Cola) and public service announcements. But it wasn’t until Trachtenberg was brought under the wing of J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot and was tasked with directing “10 Cloverfield Lane” that he made some serious waves, and proved to have some remarkable filmmaking chops. The next “The Matrix” is going to need a visualist who can handle VFX and set pieces and Trachtenberg’s already been there. He could be a perfect fit.
Filmmaker Karyn Kusama has reinvented herself in Hollywood many times. Her career kicked off with winning the top prize at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival with “Girlfight.” Then she graduated, perhaps too quickly, to big blockbuster filmmaking with “Æon Flux” (a project she’s spoken about numerous time as a bad experience with a major studio). She went into a kind of director’s jail for a brief moment after the film, but landed the gig for Diablo Cody’s much anticipated teen cannibal movie “Jennifer’s Body.” The movie wasn’t a huge success, but Kusama had a major comeback last year when she returned to her roots and the critically acclaimed horror indie, “The Invitation.” Working nearly constantly in television these days between features (“Halt And Catch Fire,” “The Man In The High Castle,” “Billions“), she’s gained the reputation of a super reliable filmmaker who can deliver. The world of major tentpoles may no longer interest her, but she’s been there, done that and has a tone of experience in many different sides of sci-fi and horror. She could be a great left-of-center choice.
It used to be that you really had to work your way up to a grand slam tentpole. You had to have hit triples and home runs before you’d even be able to walk into the door. But times are changing and as VFX teams work closer and closer with directors from the beginning with pre-viz and second unit directors taking care of a lot of your action, we’re now in an era where it’s not uncommon for an indie director like Colin Trevorrow to jump from “Safety Guaranteed” to “Jurassic World” and then “Star Wars: Episode 9.” Or look at the Russo Brothers who had directed only two features — “You, Me and Dupree” and “Welcome To Collinwood” — before they jumped into “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Essentially, if you’ve got a strong filmmaking voice, a strong point of view and a good pitch, studios are extremely receptive these days. Thus, a fascinating choice could be Jennifer Phang. She directed “Advantageous” which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and won a Special Jury Award for Collaborative Vision. An evocative and bewitching near-future sci-fi film, “Advantageous” possessed a lot of heady ideas and surreal visuals centered around the notions of aging and the have and have nots. She’s not an immediate choice, but as studios begin to broaden their scope beyond white male filmmakers, and realizing that underappreciated points of view can be highly original, it’s very easy to see a scenario where Phang could put an intriguing pitch out there. Filmmaking is more collaborative than ever and grand ideas and intriguing vision are king. Hire a cinematographer like Bill Pope (cinematographer of the original ‘Matrix’ films) or Yuen Woo-ping (action choreographer on “The Matrix” and “Kill Bill” too) or Philippe Le Sourd (the DP behind Wong Kar Wai’s “The Grandmaster”) and you are good to go (and sure, this applies to everyone here; work with masters to help you).
South Korean filmmakers are killing it these days and the South Korean New Wave is arguably the most exiting on the planet. But the fertile ground of filmmakers extends far beyond Bong Joon-Ho and Park Chan-Wook. Kim Jee-woon (“I Saw The Devil,” “The Age Of Shadows“)is obviously doing some incredible work as is Na Hong-jin (“The Wailing”) and Kim Seong-hun (“A Hard Day”). All of these filmmakers could be terrific directors for a ‘Matrix’ reboot. But top of mind right now and potentially working with a little buzz at the moment is Yeon Sang-ho, the director behind the awesome zombie apocalypse horror thriller, “Train To Busan.” Heralded by filmmakers like Guillermo del Toro, ‘Busan’ is amazing in its ability to balance disparate tones such as comedy, horror, melodrama and even weepy moments, without missing a beat. Plus, in the world where pre-viz has become king, Sang-ho’s experience with directing animated films can only be seen as a huge asset.