I've been an enormous fan of The Matrix franchise since its inception. The 1999 classic blew the world away with its death-defying action and amazing special effects. The groundbreaking film introduced the world to not only an incredible piece of art but also a technology that changed filmmaking forever. Why then does Warner Bros. want to revisit The Matrix after all this time? What changed in almost two decades making them go to work on The Matrix Resurrections?
Whatever the cause, this film made me feel a lot of different ways in the three acts. When the credits rolled, I felt like Lana Wachowski took a VHS copy of The Matrix, converted it to 4K, and slapped me across the face with it. Maybe you feel the same way but if you do, don't be mad at me for pointing it out. I'm only human, I think.
I assume you've seen the fourth film by now. If you're reading this without seeing the film, then you already missed a big point they were trying to make. You've already seen this film, you just don't know that you've already made the choice to see it.
Review – *Spoiler Warning*
I won't recap the film frame by frame, but I want to highlight what I loved about the first act and hated about the third. The first act is essentially going back to square one. It's been so long since the trilogy concluded that this really is a blank slate to work with. We didn't know what to expect going into Resurrections and that was a beautiful thing.
Are you old enough to remember what it was like in 1999? Do you remember seeing The Matrix for the first time? I do, and it's still something I think about to this day. This film had the chance to do that again, although society has changed a lot since the early 2000s.
The MatrixResurrections tells the story in a weird way in the first act. I immediately thought they were breaking the fourth wall when Warner Bros. forces Thomas Anderson to make another Matrix game. They said the studio plans on going forward with the project with or without him and that, to me, was brilliant writing.
It's almost as if Lana Wachowski was playing a joke on the audience and Warner Bros. She could have skipped the project, as many filmmakers have in the past, but she chose to go along with it anyway. The writer's room scene only made me believe my theory more. A room full of people trying to tell a creator how to create is both symbolic and toxic. Machines farming humans for energy could equal studios forcing a narrative.
Of course, Warner Bros. wouldn't let their name be dragged through the mud on purpose. They had to make it mean something and they did. I loved the dynamic that's built through the first act because it truly made me question where this was going.
The second act is where the film begins to go downhill. Neo gets unplugged from the Matrix and comes back to the real world. The new characters, that are entirely forgettable, explain to him what happened in the 60 years since the conclusion of the trilogy. A new machine power rose up in conflict with the current machines. They fought each other and the new breed won.
Morpheus is a ridiculous cross-breed between an agent and a human. It's dumb, forced, and a weak way to bring Morpheus back to the franchise when Laurence Fishburne didn't return. They would have been better off leaving his character dead and off-screen.
Essentially, Neo is back in the Matrix because the machines are back in power. So nothing that happened in Revolutions matters? Neo succeeded in beating Agent Smith only for him to be plugged back into the Matrix and Smith to return with a different physical form. I started losing interest in the film around this point but I kept going because it could have been saved.
If you've seen the original Matrix film then you already know how Resurrections ends. This film basically repeated the third act from the first film. Neo and Trinity go to save Morpheus from the hands of the Agents. In this film, Neo and the newbies go to save Trinity from the machines, but this time they're aided by certain machines.
They succeed and save Trinity. Then, they imprison Neil Patrick Harris' newly programmed character and the film ends. Over-the-top action and plenty of references throughout couldn't save this film from the atrocity that it was.
I'm glad I watched this film but it will be the only time I ever watch it. The Matrix Resurrections feels like a metaphorical reach for a bag of cash except everything is sloppy and the bag of cash is Bitcoin. The potential of this film quickly evaporated as it progressed. We live in a world that's very symbiotic with technology and that's very evident in this film. My biggest problem with it is the issues today are very similar to those in 1999. The film adds little to the lore of The Matrix and you could easily never watch it and not miss a damn thing.