“Return to a world of two realities: one, everyday life; the other, what lies behind it. To find out if his reality is a construct, to truly know himself, Mr. […]
“Return to a world of two realities: one, everyday life; the other, what lies behind it. To find out if his reality is a construct, to truly know himself, Mr. Anderson will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more.”
Director: Lana Wachowski
Writers: Lana Wachowski, David Mitchell, Aleksandar Hemon
Staring: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Maten, Jonathan Groff
Release Date: December 22, 2021
Where To Watch: HBO MAX
How the hell do you sum up a plot like The Matrix Resurrections?
There is an absolute shit-ton of stuff that happens in this movie. It is meta upon meta when it comes to referencing the original trilogy and the events that took place. It is vital that someone watch the first three Matrix movies before seeing The Matrix Resurrections because it will help you understand and appreciate the story more.
Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is living a cycle as a premiere video game developer. The game that he created, none other than The Matrix. Now he is struggling to find a new story and has the problems of going over budget and taking too much time. Self referential much? Just the beginning my friends, that is just the beginning.
Mr. Anderson is in the need of inspiration, he knows something is missing. He put in an old code from his game; the moment the audience meets Trinity. This old code triggers something, and people notice. Bugs (Jessica Henwick), along with Sequoia (Toby Onwumere), are watching this old code unfold and realizing what it is. They are witnessing the start of Neo’s story. Purely on intuition, Bugs is getting a vibe, a vibe that something crazy is happening.
Through a series of hoops, jumps, skips, revelations and discoveries, Neo is reborn. Mr. Anderson is sucked back into the real world and relearns that there are two different worlds; the one that is real and the one that everyone is living in.
Throughout the web of construction that Neo is trying to understand, there are two key details that come to light. The first is that Mr. Anderson, and Agent Smith are intertwined with one another. Fans of the original will remember Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith, but in The Matrix Resurrections, it is played by Jonathan Groff. When we first meet Groff’s character, he is the boss of Mr. Anderson at the gaming company. It turns out that both of them are living a fake life in this fake reality. Both are under the thumb of, The Analyst.
The Analyst, who is played by Neil Patrick Harris, appears to be the therapist for Mr. Anderson. He is feeding the confused man the ideas that he is just confusing what is real and what is reality, when in reality, Neo is finally starting to understand. The Analyst has rewritten the matrix in a new vision, not using formulas and binary inferences, but instead manipulating people’s emotions, desires and fears. This is how the people are controlled, and one can only break free of their free will.
The one emotion that Neo had in the original trilogy is love, and that is love for Trinity. Carrie-Anne Moss returns are Trinity an like her counterpart, she is trapped in the Matrix as well living a life she believes to be real. Trinity is named Tiffany and she has a husband and two kids but her interest is peaked when Mr. Anderson is introduced to her in a coffee shop (named Simulatte, clever).
It turns out that the connection between Neo and Trinity is what is keeping this version of the Matrix afloat. The Analyst learned that if you keep the pair of them close, but without touching, then their emotions can be the needle that weaves his virtual world. Neo, learning this truth and seeing that Trinity was brought back to life just like him, it gives him a purpose.
This dedication to freeing Trinity is the final driving force of the movie. Neo’s ambition to be back with Trinity puts what the Analyst wants in jeopardy. It also jeopardizes the people who are living post Neo’s first world-saving adventure. Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) returns as the general leading Io (the new Zion) an holding up the legacy of Morpheus. She has the burden of wanting to keep her world safe but also trust the one person who broke down all the barriers she thought was real. In the end, she has to let down her walls and let Neo potentially bring even more peace and prosperity to the world.
Okay, so that is the summary, of the summary, of the summary. There is a ton of shit happening in The Matrix: Resurrections.
Now for the question: is The Matrix Resurrections a good movie? That is a complicated question. If you are looking for a continuation of the Matrix lore, the over-the-top meta referencing to the originals integrated into the story may hit the nostalgia buttons you need. If you are looking for a well constructed movie with its own purpose, vision and sense of identity, then you will be disappointed.
The Matrix Resurrections biggest fault is its story, and more explicitly, how it pins its entire turning point on Trinity’s change of heart. The only way that her and Neo can save the world is if she agrees to leave the Matrix from her own free will. The catalyst for her abandoning her virtual family is her connection with Neo, or the man she knows better, Mr. Anderson. One has to ask, did the script that Lana Wachowski put enought emphasis on Trinity herself, her relationship with Neo, and her own perception of her reality? The answer for me is, no.
There are no scenes in The Matrix Resurrections where Trinity is by herself analyzing her own scenario and state of mind. In the original The Matrix (1999), we see Trinity talk with Morpheus and other characters exploring the concept of Neo as The One and it was it means with what she has been told is going to happen in her future. In The Matrix Resurrections there are no such scenes. So much of Trinity’s own doubts are her explaining what she did to Neo while having coffee.
Another very strange part of The Matrix Resurrections is the character of Morpheus. Lawrence FIshburne is not in this movie, and his “character” is now only a program that is made reality as a virtual beady robot AI with the advancement of technology. When in the matrix, it is Yahya Abdul-Maten who is acting out the character of Morpheus and he is is wonderful with his crazy suits and numerous slo-mo gun fights. The problem I have with the character of Morpheus in The Matrix Resurrections is that they went halfway with it. It feels like there was a concerned effort to keep the character in the story because he is so beloved, but then to also break free and allow a new head captain in Bugs to shine. They startled the fence and in the end ripped their pants potential right down the seam.
The best acting from this movie is Groff as Mr. Smith. He is the new actor bringing new life into a familiar character. He fit the mold of virus from the original trilogy well and if you squint enough you can even see a physical resemblance between him and Hugo Weaving. Of the characters that we are reintroduced to or meet for the first time, Goff’s interpretation of Mr. Smith is the most interesting.
Mr. Smith and Neo battle it out once again in The Matrix Resurrections and it is just one of a few reuniting scenes. You remember the terribly rude french man Merovingian (Lambert Wilson) from The Matrix Reloaded (2003). Well he is back, for some reason? Also returning for some reason is Niobe?
Of all the detours and turns this movie takes, the least interesting part comes with Neo, Bugs and crew arrive at Io. This 15-20 minute interlude drags like an anchor at the bottom of the ocean. Niobe wants to lock Neo up for his own good, but then quickly changes mind and Neo escapes and suddenly it’s a reality saving mission. Why not add some stakes to the story instead of just Neo wanting to reunite. Let’s say that Bugs tell Neo that the new world he built is falling apart once again, and that new world is Io. How about instead of having this homecoming that wasn’t a homecoming, Neo sees a broken world so there is something happening rather than a love story where we are only hearing one side;
It is rather crazy how there are so many negative aspects of The Matrix Resurrections, yet it is still watchable. You will roll your eyes and stare at the ceiling at numerous points during the story, but when the serotonin hits and the slow-mo starts to happen, it is hard not to get sucked in. The action is engrossing most of the time, and I give credit to Wachowski for making chaotic action cohesive and understandable. After just watching a movie like The Forever Purge (2021) or any of Michael Bay’s movies, the heavy CGI of The Matrix Resurrections is smooth.
Will The Matrix Resurrections result in a new trilogy for Reeves and company? Doubtful. Does it provide good entertainment while working out or while stoned? Surely. It is a popcorn movie, and that is where it falls short from any of its predecessors. Its attempt at being meta aren’t subliminal and a non-coherent story doesn’t allow for deeper thought in a story that was begging for think pieces.
STANKO RATING: B (3.0/5 Stars)
P.S.- Random note here. I love how Jonathan Groff’s headshot on IMDB is so much lower than the rest of the cast. Just so much headroom.
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