The Matrix Resurrections is a bad idea neatly snuggled in the comfort of niche defense and cult love. It’s also a bad action film surrounded by rudderless world-building and the need to go into a meta black hole. But, damn if I don’t enjoy Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss working together. I just wish the film felt like more than an Enter the Matrix sequel.
Warner Brothers is going to make the Matrix happen, so might as well put a Wachowski out in front of that train
The limp acknowledgment that Warner Brothers is going to force the Matrix back into existence feels like giving up. While Joe Dante got in front of it with Gremlins 2: The New Batch, The Matrix Resurrections feels like defeat.
Self-defeating narratives are something I’ve been seeing a lot in the last two months. I’m wondering what’s powering this shared sense of everything is broken and we can’t beat it? The easy answer is to say it’s because people are weak and resigned to giving up.
My problem with defeat in this narrative is that The Matrix Resurrections feels like a TV movie pilot for an ongoing series more than a soft reboot.
After reading interviews with Lana Wachowski where she stated her desire to return to the Matrix world, something rang true. This was a film about making the most out of a bad situation.
Lana Wachowski was grieving from the rather close deaths of her parents. When corporate synergy pushed a beloved favorite into development, she at least wanted to be at the wheel.
That means the reason why Lana returned and not her sibling was because she had things to work out for herself. Enlisting a team of past screenwriting friends to help cobble together a script, the result is something schizo. The Matrix Resurrections wants to say something about how you can’t beat the corporate system because it just turns everyone into zombie bots. But, then it says that people are zombified in their tastes to start. So, what’s the point of even freeing them from The Matrix?
DEUS MACHINA! Get it?!? Let’s talk about the constructive mentality of modern fiction narratives
Story exists because it addresses conflict and attempts to give a release. Whether The Matrix Resurrections focuses on the city of IO, the 60 year aftermath of the original trilogy or how overpowered The Analyst, the point of the movie is that you can’t win. While that is a way to go, it means that there is no point in moving forward. You just have to learn to deal with a system and make your way in it.
That’s fine and dandy for the real world, but it kicks the teeth out of a fantasy. When you consider that the opening of The Matrix Resurrections features a mentally exhausted Neo warped into a shell of a man that doesn’t even look like his former self, it says a lot. Hell, it says a lot that Neo has to reconstruct the identities of his former allies to even have a chance of breaking out of his routine.
When he finally pulls all of this off, he gets to meet Jada Pinkett Smith’s wrinkly ass and get told that it doesn’t matter. Many people get confused and think the issue is with some of the robots making peace with humans. That’s actually one of the film’s better ideas. By having Niobe and the upper echelon of IO give up the fight in exchange for better food, it reinforces the undercurrent of The Matrix Resurrections.
It’s still just a Sci-Fi Kung Fu movie
The Matrix Resurrections can’t escape what it will always be and that’s not a bad thing. However, the sequels fell apart when it started presenting conflicting ideas that didn’t gel. The sequels deeply engaged in the philosophical debate in the subtext.
Meanwhile, the tie-in material such as The Animatrix focused on building a world and providing a history as to why the machines took over.
Why can’t The Matrix Resurrections be two things at once?
Well, it could be. That is if it wasn’t carrying the weight of three other movies and a lore. It’s the burden of continuity. You get to build a world to dive into with your fictions, but the narrative has to remain true to that world. It’s what undermined a lot of films ala The Last Jedi.
Story changes are fun, but they still have to remain true to what you’re laying down. You just don’t get to ignore things willy-nilly a decade plus into the tale.
If you choose to ignore things and create lateral movement, then you have to acknowledge what you’ve done to the original singular work. You have turned it into a commodity to be shifted and prodded at will. So much of The Matrix Resurrections pushes back against this notion.
Well, that is until they want a train chase and vehicle chase through areas full of zombie bots. Did it make sense? Not really, but bots are computer things. Cue music sting and green on black code screen.
If we take anything away from The Matrix Resurrections, it’s that there is a time and a place for everything. So many people defending the film choose to highlights Jessica Henwick’s Bugs and that betrays the very nature of the film.
You had a new jumping-off point to focus on how The Matrix has changed over 60 years. But, people want the solid jumping off point that previous artists made so they can put their own spin on it.
When, in reality, the answer is always to go off and do your damn thing.
The grand takeaway from The Matrix Resurrections
When the movie ends with a Brass Against cover of a rather old Rage Against the Machine song that was old when it ended The Matrix, something hit me. The grand joke of The Matrix Resurrections is in the fight to be something different, they made a committee film that a studio would want. The script goes into too many directions, old favorites get thrown back into the mix with no reason and old hold-outs get dropped with the discretion of a five year old kid turning its nose up at Brussels Sprouts.
It’s a messy movie that I’m not sure a future sequel or MAX series could fix. I don’t take issue with anything the Wachowskis made, but I feel they get a lot of undue attention from the film nerd community. Take away Bound and their attempts to lift a great deal from Morrison’s “The Invisibles”, then what do you have? The answer is the same, as we see from The Analyst surviving for the 80th time. Not much.
But, the overuse of flashbacks did feel like a subconscious attempt to sabotage the story. I’m wondering how much of that was Warner Brothers and how much was Lana Wachowski. The world will never know, but we do have an interview with Matrix star Joe Pantoliano about to go live soon. Stay tuned for that and more.
But, for now…take the last two weeks of the Matrix Resurrections’ HBO MAX run to watch it again with fresh eyes.