The Matrix Resurrections


As we rapidly approach the end of 2021, one thing that’s stood out with a couple of recent blockbusters is the deployment of some weapons grade nostalgia in order to turn the feelings of audience members into quivering mounds of jelly for the sake of some heart warming, bitter sweet, cinematic payoff. If the sight of the original Ghostbusters suiting up to take down the second coming of Gozer The Gozerian wasn’t enough, surely the clutch of Spider-Men and Spider-Villians in No Way Home was enough to crack the hardest of hearts. However, it seems that 2021 isn’t quite done yet with attempting to pull at our heart strings while testing our memory for beloved instances of pop culture – so with the familiar trill of descending green code filling our years, it’s time, apparently, to re-enter the Matrix for a long overdue third sequel; but will find memories be enough to sustain a franchise that one time changed the face of cinema?

Meet Thomas Anderson. You may think you’ve met him before, but you may also have to think again. You see, this Thomas Anderson is the creator of a massively popular video game trilogy called “The Matrix” that revolutionized the face of pop culture and saw humankind unknowingly subjugated into slavery by a race of machine by ways of a massive virtual world that no one realises is false. Sound eerily familiar? Well imagine how it feels to Thomas, who not only undergoes panic attacks and disorienting breaks from reality but is also a suicide survivor to boot after almost walking off the side of a building years earlier.
The request a the creation of a new Matrix trilogy unsurprisingly sends Thomas into a whole new spiral, something no amount of the blue pills percribed by his therapist can seem to stop but he feels a modicum of calm when he meets housewife Tiffany at his local coffee shop – a woman who strongly resembles the Trinity character from his games.
Reality itself is forced to take a reality check in the form of Bugs, someone who knows the actual truth of this situation: Thomas Anderson is the saviour-like Neo of his games, The Matrix is real and years earlier, both Neo and Trinity died while finally bringing the war between humans and the machine world to a truce. But if all of this is true, how is Neo still alive, why is he still plugged into the Matrix and what has happened in the years since his sacrifice? Does the human city Zion still stand? Did any of the machines obey the truce? And can Neo still do all his funky, reality warping super powers? As he acclimates to the new status quo, friends and enemies both new and old (and some looking very different) crawl out of the digital woodwork to stick their oar in – but what of Trinity? Is she still real?

Coming nearly twenty years after the release of The Matrix Revolutions, you may wonder what more there is left to say about the Wachowski’s world of philosophy, bullet time and kung-fu and the short answer is unfortunately not much.
It starts off mind bendingly enough with the script hurtling full force into the Meta-trix by having the world we know fully known by the public at large as a series of culturally essential video games. Thus we get actual scenes of people actually discussing what The Matrix means to popular as actual dialogue and how going beyond the trilogy would be an artistically destitute decision. It’s all very amusing and keeps the first third ticking over nicely as the plot builds momentum. Some of the new additions also prove to be fairly interesting too, with the truce between worlds providing allies in both robot and program form with the latter now having a physical, real-world presence thanks to a cool, magnetic, ball bearing thingy. The new characters, chiefly Jessica Henwick’s plucky Bugs and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s eccentric Morpheus/Agent programme (also dubbed Morgheus), fulfil the necessary functions needed to push the film along but the moment the time comes for Resurrections to shift into high gear, something noticably stalls.
It’s not that Lana Wachowski (going solo after sibling Lilly opted out of returning) is short of new ideas, it’s just that none of them are particularly compelling once the film picks up pace and one to many times the script falls back on simply mirroring events from previous movies as an attempt to echo the past with the present – it certainly doesn’t help that brief images from the other films are regularly inserted in to further belabour the point to almost parody.

While some of Lana’s concepts work just fine (Jada Pinkett’s return as an elderly Niobe goes down a treat) others simply feel odd or not properly thought out – one plot twist involving a re-skinned Agent Smith feels weirdly like the Megatron/Galvatron thread from Transformers: Age Of Extinction: you’re glad they’re involved in some way – but did it have to be like this? Elsewhere, Neil Patrick Harris takes criticisms of the overly verbose Architect from the sequels seriously, but then decides to play his arch-villain role like an even more misogynist version of Barney from How I Met Your Mother – it works, kinda; but also kinda doesn’t. Even the action isn’t good enough to fall back on, which is possibly the most surprising/disappointing aspect of the movie as the original  changed the face of American action sequences (among other things) litrally over night. Here, the final battle involves hordes of Matrix controlled cityfolk swarming over our heroes as they try to stay alive, but instead of being original and innovative it merely feels like a slick redux of World War Z.
With all that being said, it’s still arguably the best Matrix sequel so far, despite the fact that its lacking the energy of Reloaded and the scale Revolutions and as an extra bonus, Trinity (eventually) gets to power up in an overdue attempt to stop her from being a hugely capable and lethal woman who still needs her super powered, techno-god boyfriend to save her. Resurrections’ central love story is one aspect that actually still work like it used to but it’s just a shame that the equalling up only happens in the last ten minutes in the movie and makes you wonder if this would have made a more intriguing story than just “everyone’s forgotten everything”…

Metaphorically still knowing kung-fu after a strong, delightfully weird start, The Matrix Resurrections slowly runs out of steam when the problem of nostalgia fuelled lack of originality unplugs it from the collected mainframe. Further sequels could be interesting, but one more trip down the rabbit hole like this and I’ll seriously have to consider taking the blue pill…


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