The Matrix Resurrections
𝐃𝐢𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐨𝐫 – 𝐋𝐚𝐧𝐚 𝐖𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐰𝐬𝐤𝐢
𝐑𝐮𝐧𝐭𝐢𝐦𝐞 – 𝟏𝟒𝟎 𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐬
𝐏𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦 – 𝐇𝐁𝐎 𝐌𝐚𝐱 & 𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐫𝐞𝐬
The opening minutes of The Matrix Resurrections are literally a recreation of the first few minutes of the Matrix, but there are some notable changes. It’s almost similar, but something’s off, and as Jessica Henwick’s Bugs says “Maybe it’s not the story we think it is”. In a way that statement was prophetic, because this is decidedly not the story we think it is.
That’s not to say that Matrix Resurrections does not weaponize nostalgia. On the contrary, events of the first film are always edited into the narrative of this new film, as feelings of deja vu experienced by Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves), a rockstar video-game designer who is famous for creating a videogame trilogy called The Matrix. He experiences the events of the first film as well as some moments of the second and third during interactions with Tiffany (Carrie Anne Moss), a soccer mom who he feels he knows but can’t place. The events of the first film are also mirrored throughout the events of the narrative, from the structuring to the overall execution of the first half itself.
It’s striking that criticisms of The Matrix Resurrections compare it more to The Last Jedi, the middle chapter of the Star Wars sequel trilogy, infamous for its subversion of Star Wars tropes. And while that is true to some extent, The Matrix Resurrections mirror more with The Force Awakens, the first Star wars film of the sequel trilogy, in how slavishly it is recreating the original. But as slavish as it feels at times, Lana Wachowski wants you to know that she does not want to make a traditional sequel. The movie thus is extremely meta in its construction of a sequel, the trope of bigger being better, subverting hollywood’s methodology of churning out continuations of stories which have ended or supposedly did not need continuations. The winning points lie in its matter-of-fact cheeky wink-ness. It knows that fans of the matrix want to know how the events of the film are possible, but it also knows the utter futility of crafting a sequel which is more of the same. The result is thus a sequel which takes some big swings. For the most part they connect.
Reflections are a big part of this story. The central theme is repetition, distorted patterns, but again it toys with the inevitability of the cyclical nature of its storytelling itself. It also finely dovetails into the trans-allegory which the makers herself want to put the point across. The point put-across does not come off as smoothly as she might have liked, but Wachowski with co-writer David Mitchell does manage to pull off the impossible, craft a Matrix story which is mirroring the original, but is still fresh. The problems though lie in its execution. Once the movie starts rolling, the second half becomes ambitious, but it does also feel convoluted and messy as a result. One of the bigger criticisms which has to be given to The Matrix Resurrections, is due to its own existence as a sequel to a franchise which revolutionized how action movies and set-pieces are made. even the weaker sequels had some considerably impressive action set-pieces. Here though the action set-pieces feel like something we have seen done before, and while that wouldn’t be a criticism normally, for a matrix movie that is a large part of the criticism.
On the other hand the romance between Neo and Trinity which was nothing more than a plot-point in the first and almost a form of navel-gazing while the plot races through in the second and third, is of paramount importance here which is appreciated. It doesn’t detract from the fact that Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne Moss are still sparkling in their chemistry, and Reeves is still convincing in the part of Anderson. Among the newcomers Jessica Henwick as Bugs is easily the most important newcomer of the story and charismatic to boot. The newer actors like Yahya Abdul Mateen II and Jonathan Groff reprising the roles of characters like Morpheus and Agent Smith respectively don’t hold a candle to the original, but they do a serviceable job. The Matrix Resurrections is going to be divisive, for good reasons. People would be expecting philosophy and sci-fi blended with black leather clad assassin led action set-pieces, and while the blending doesn’t work as much as you would like, the decidedly meta self awareness and the interesting ways by which the story of The Matrix as well as the real world progresses is far different than the cyclical nature of capturing the same spark of the original. There is it’s own originality there. It also is genuinely rewarding that a 140 min sci-fi story has a complete 3 act structure with a finished story. That is a rarity among big franchise storytelling.
Disclaimer: The above review solely illustrates the views of the writer.