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The Matrix Resurrections Fails to Fly

Unfortunately, nobody can be told if The Matrix Resurrections is good; you have to see it for yourself. My reactions throughout the sequel were visceral, similar to the ones I had during The Last Jedi. I groaned at particular jokes and threw my hands up almost as much as Neo. The reasons I disliked like the movie might not relate to everyone. What I see as a shallow attempt at rekindling nostalgia others may interpret as a clever fourth-wall-breaking, metaphorical reboot.

The Matrix Resurrections is a meta sequel with an unclear message. The visionaries behind the 1999 smash hit share a bond in art and personal life most siblings hardly have in common. The Wachowskis had no interest in making another Matrix. With the death of their parents being so close together, Lana Wachowski conceived the idea of resurrecting Neo and Trinity. Lilly disagreed with the idea, thinking it was too stuck in the past. It pains me to say I agree with her.

The Matrix Resurrections is a nostalgia grab similar to The Force Awakens. The unreal tech demo is even called The Matrix Awakens. The coincidental nature of it all doesn’t appeal to me. Lana Wachowski is making a commentary on nostalgia with Resurrections being the self aware, light-hearted opposite of its gloomy originals. Lana may have over indulged on Member Berries writing a comfort food script instead of something more challenging.

Neo (Keanu Reeves) prepares for combat

Structurally the film is driving at 200 miles per hour, without applying the brakes. The first act is a remake of the original film: Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) can’t shake his manic depressive episodes. To help him cope with his derangement his counselor played by Neil Patrick Harris, prescribes him blue pills. The only thing that gives Tom any solace is when he periodically bumps across his local crush in the coffee shop. Maybe he and she (Carrie Ann Moss) might hook up? On one vital day Tom’s life changes forever when Bugs (Jessica Henwick) reveals who Thomas Anderson truly is.

The Matrix Resurrections
How I long for the days when this was terrifying.

What made the original Matrix work was its credibility. Nobody is actually jumping between buildings or dodging bullets. It’s all psychological. In the real world, everyone’s a helpless being resting naked in their mammal pods. When free from his prison, Neo is simply a man who possesses no magic, just a mental ability to withstand and manipulate the Matrix far beyond what the typical human mind can handle. That sense of realism is shattered in The Matrix Reloaded when Neo can disable sentinels with his mind in the real world. Resurrections doubles down on this, breaking reality within the scientific world outside of the Matrix, pulling me further from its narrative. The premise itself is redundant. I thought Neo’s resurrection existed in the first Matrix when he rises from the dead to destroy Smith with ease? The themes in Resurrections are similar to the original trilogy: questioning reality, fate, and destiny. But what is it trying to say? That it misses The Matrix franchise? Everything is a remix of what’s been said before but with a smirk to the camera that’s very out of place.

Despite all this negativity, I do respect how the Wachowski’s have placed importance on all their canon material. Each and every bit of Matrix media is connected, The Matrix interlinked all their smaller budget material. Everything from The Animatrix to the video games count as part of the overall story. As much as I respect the hell out of that, it also introduces how canonizing everything can be problematic.

Laurence Fishburne is prominently missing in Resurrections. Why he’s missing is possibly connected to the events of a 2005 video game. I understand the reasoning behind the creative decision, but why not re-dramatize the events of The Matrix online linking it cinematically to Resurrection’s story?

Stemming from an immeasurable sense of grief, Lana Wachowski’s Matrix Resurrections deserves to stay in the past. There’s comfort in nostalgia, but we need to learn to let go. An occasional visit to an old franchise is fine, but it should have a purpose for existing beyond longing. By only trying to appeal to a direct fanbase, the movie’s universality is missing. What made The Matrix work was the shock of what it was in the first place. The Matrix was a near perfect singular film blending horror, philosophy and action together into a magnificently paced picture. Every sequel afterward is a bloated sluggish mess of philosophical repetition.

Sometimes an idea is best left in the creator’s head. Perhaps Ms. Wachowski can let other creative minds dive into the Matrix. There are tales to tell other than Neo and Trinity’s that can be adapted for the big screen. What of the other “ones” before Neo the architect mentioned in Reloaded? Or the story of how the Matrix came to be?  A live action version of The Second Renaissance from The Animatrix could be a phenomenal experience. The Matrix Resurrections does a fine job at undermining the original trilogy’s events, all while paying homage to them, causing more damage than rectifying past failures. The Matrix doesn’t need a resurrection; it needs a funeral.

Written by Mike Crowley

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