Carrie-Anne Moss signs on to sequels — will she be joined by Jet Li?

It’s been a while since we wrote about The Matrix so we figured it was a good time to catch up on all the news and rumors swirling around its highly anticipated sequels. The big news this week is that Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity) has officially signed on to both Matrix 2 and 3 (according to Variety), and will join the shoot this fall after wrapping up her current commitments.

These commitments include a film called Chocolat, co-starring with Johnny Depp — its production begins in Europe this May. But before that movies opens, fans can catch Moss on the big screen in The Crew with Burt Reynolds, which opens this August, and then in another sci-fi flick (Red Planet) with Val Kilmer, opening in November.

Moss’ return to The Matrix fold means that the core cast is back, as Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus) and Keanu Reeves (Neo) are already aboard for both sequels. The Wachowski Brothers will again write and direct, as previously announced, and uber-producer Joel Silver will be back to keep things honest. We’ve also seen scattered reports that Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith) might return too, but that’s yet to be confirmed.

Trinity’s return was expected, but a more surprising addition is the possible inclusion of rising star Jet Li. According to our sister site IGN Movies, Jet Li is enthusiastic about the franchise, and Silver is just as excited about bringing the box office draw aboard. Reportedly both sides are ready to start talking but negotiations have yet to begin.

While the cast is definitely firming up, actual plot details are few and far between. First, here’s a breakdown of what seems definite at this early date: the city of Zion, last surviving stronghold of humanity, will almost certainly play a major role in the sequels. Evidence? The Wachowski Brothers themselves, while in an online chat with fans back when the DVD was released, were asked why we never got to see Zion in the first film. Their answer: “We’re saving that for The Matrix 2.”

Everything else we’ve heard qualifies as a rumor though, no matter how exciting these tidbits sound. After all, the scripts haven’t even been written yet! Still, if you’re even remotely worried about spoilers, you might want to skip down to the end of this article.

First off, the filmmakers’ biggest concern has to be topping the remarkable special effects shown in the first film. As cool as the slow motion fighting and bullet dodging was in the first film, they can’t just shoot another version of the same action. Audiences demand more, and it sounds like they’ll get it.

The word is that special effects house Manex Entertainment (now known as MVFX) has been asked to come up with some killer concepts for the Wachowski Brothers before they even sit down and begin to work on the script. A while back IGN Movies posted an interesting report on what one of these alleged concepts was supposed to be — a group of Agents are chasing Neo through some city streets. It seems that Neo with his newfound abilities can now outpace the Agents easily, except that the Agents keep warping into the bodies of different drivers, making them very hard to shake.

Another chase scene might be set in the free city of Zion. According to Dark Horizons, some storyboards have been spotted that show a pursuit around the city’s ‘Core Conscience’, a mainframe computer that looks like London’s Big Ben.

And finally, it sounds like Trinity is going to have a much rougher ride in the second film. According to the SF Crow’s Nest, she gets kidnapped by Agents and taken into a different virtual reality, forcing Neo to go in after her in order to effect a rescue. This same source suggests we’ll then find out that Trinity is a double agent who’s been working for the Agents all along! A similar rumor popped up on Dark Horizons, leading us to believe there might be some grain of truth to this.

Still, how could Trinity be a double agent? She had plenty of opportunities to betray her comrades in the first movie but didn’t, so what’s the deal? It’s not out of the question though — perhaps the Agents get some kind of hold on her that forces her to change sides. Or maybe on a subsequent trip inside The Matrix she’s replaced by an artificial intelligence programmed to look exactly like her. Stranger things have happened in film.

Or maybe — and this is our favorite “What If?” scenario — maybe the ‘reality’ that we were shown in the first film turns out to be only another layer of illusion. Just as we learned that the ‘real world’ is only a computer-generated Matrix created by rogue AIs, perhaps we’ll learn in the second film that the Agents, the human batteries, and the freehold of Zion are also false, another illusion created by a third group whose hand remains unseen. Like a Philip K. Dick book, layers of reality keep peeling back like the skin of an onion.

So what’s the real scoop? No one knows for sure, but we’re confident that the Wachowski Brothers can at least top their previous outing in the second film and even keep the pacing up in the third film. Often times the third film in a trilogy is the weakest, since by that time everybody’s completely burnt out on the whole thing, but here the Brothers are shooting the two sequels back to back, which should keep the cast and crew that much more fresh. And their plan to release the two sequels within months of each other also makes a cliffhanger ending for 2 a definite possibility.

The Matrix 2 and 3 will start production next fall.