By Nicole Veneto
Director Lana Wachowski seems less interested in telling a cohesive story with fleshed out characters than in aggressively commenting on how we’re trapped in a cycle of reboots and endless remakes in sight.
Matrix resurrections, directed by Lana Wachowski. Now in theaters and streaming on HBO Max through January 31.
I will start my exam of Matrix resurrections not by talking about the first groundbreaking film (1999) or its two sequels, but by commenting on some speeches that have made their way on social networks in the last month. Like many other films with a late December release, Resurrections got the challenge to open alongside the latest MCU movie, Spider-Man: No Path Home, which has sold movie theaters across the country. (Depending on where you live, No way home maybe the alone showing movies at your local theater.) In my respective online bubble, there’s a huge pushback against the MCU’s monopoly on movie audiences. Yet many of the same people who criticize No way home as the algorithmically generated meaningless nostalgia baits of the Mouse House also sang their praises about Resurrections like a meta-movie masterpiece that doesn’t get its review. From one Hollywood franchise to another, the news Matrix the film is now considered an underdog at the box office, and shouldn’t we be cheering on the underdog?
While they are both big budget studio franchise films, if there’s a palpable difference between The matrix Marvel series and films is that the former can claim a personal relationship with its directors that the latter cannot. Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus are the characters of Lana and Lilly Wachowski, not preexisting intellectual properties created by someone else. Allowed, The matrix is largely the product of his many influences, due as much to cyberpunk fiction and kung fu films as to Jean Baudrillard and Japanese anime. The idea that we are enslaved by technology and kept sedated in a simulated reality was not even a new concept in 1999. Yet, as storytellers, the Wachowskis have a personal interest in it. The matrix and its political significance still debated in popular culture. Lana’s private reason for finally returning to The matrix, this time as a single director (Lilly switched to focusing on the production of Showtime’s Work in progress), was clearly voiced at the Berlin International Literature Festival. There she declared that she found the idea of resuscitating Neo and Trinity “immediately heartwarming” after the death of her parents and a close friend: “I couldn’t have my mom and dad, but suddenly I had Neo and Trinity [back]. “
There is something quite touching about this; after so many years of being hunted down to make another Matrix movie, Lana found a way to get back to the show on her own terms. Considering Warner Brothers would have made a fourth Matrix with or without the Wachowskis it is fair to say that we get a Matrix restarting is better than anything a manager for hire could have delivered. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to love Resurrections, I did not do it. What Resurrections tries to do is admirable, if only because it’s different from what audiences expect – it’s a reboot of the series that tries to accommodate the franchise’s cultural heritage and very concept of reboot as cash fodder for the insatiable masses of longing. However, it does so in the most obtuse way possible, clubbing audiences above their heads with constant reminders of the original trilogy and the dialogue that’s so obnoxiously on the nose it’s worthy of it. Some would say this over-saturation of the familiar is the point. The problem is that Resurrections offers nothing new beyond tedious comments on its very existence.
As I understand it, the basic plot of Resurrections is it: after dying in Revolutions, Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss, still a baby) are resurrected by the architect’s successor, the analyst (Neil Patrick Harris), an AI who oversees a new version of the Matrix powered by ” fear “and” desire “, using Neo and Trinity as a kind of infinite fear / desire generator on which to base the human experience (I think?). In this new matrix, Neo is Tom Anderson, a game designer depressed / suicidal video famous for creating an extremely popular game trilogy subconsciously based on his previous life titled – you guessed it – The matrix. Trinity leads a happy married life with children as Tiffany, a woman who frequents Tom’s favorite cafe and the object of his distant affections. “Morpheus” (Candyby Yahya Abdul-Mateen II dressed in Steve Harvey’s cuts) who survived Revolutions and presumably led a busy life in post-apocalyptic reality, now exists as a video game NPC in Tom’s new game Binary, based on a fusion of memories of Neo from Morpheus and Agent Smith (thus explaining the absences of Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving, although they could just as easily be credited in this film given the amount of footage from the original trilogy shown).
Sixty years have passed outside of The Matrix. The war on the machines is not over, but mankind now has the help of many rogue machines sympathetic to the human cause. The film itself begins with a simulated recreation of The matrixThe opening scene of (where Trinity finally reunites with Neo in the Matrix) is watched by Bugs (Jessica Henwick), a freed human and ship captain whose search for Neo leads her and her crew to extract “Morpheus” of Binary. With the help of “Morpheus”, Bugs is able to eject Tom / Neo from the new Matrix and return to the real world. They then all meandered for a while in the new human city of Io before resolving to try to get Trinity out of her simulated existence, while being pursued by “Agent Smith” (Jonathan Groff, one of the many faces punctures in this film). The real plot of Resurrections – to save Trinity – is not blocked until almost two-thirds of the execution time has elapsed. Before that, we spent far too much time watching the conference room tools talk about The matrix as it exists in the universe and subsequently in our own media landscape.
Based on the insufficient and scattered synopsis I have provided, you can probably assume that Resurrections is kind of a mess. Wachowski seems less interested in telling a cohesive story populated by fleshed out characters than in aggressively commenting on how we’re trapped in a cycle of reboots and endless remakes in sight. Beyond the blatant shade of its own existence, Resurrections do not take The matrix in different or significant directions. Even the meta-commentary gimmick feels old hat. But the film’s worst offense is that it keeps revisiting scenes from the original trilogy. again and again, to the point that I shouted “STOP DOING THIS!” On my television out of sheer frustration. Clearly I didn’t have to watch Reloaded Where Revolutions (the best of the suites in my opinion) in order to understand anything in Resurrections. Even then, I still found the climax to be incredibly confusing.
I feel really bad that Resurrections did nothing for me. The special effects and fight choreography are prettier than its predecessors, but the technical sharpness doesn’t mean much when the rest of the film is a snap retread that can’t see past itself. However, there is still something to be said about The matrix like an inherently strange piece of cinema. In the years since the original trilogy, Lana and Lilly Wachowski are both transgender women and have double on the Matrixtransgender subtext and allegory of dysphoria. I watched Resurrections New Years Eve with my roommate Fallon (which you will remember from my Titanium review), and while we both found the movie disappointing, can’t say our weird asses didn’t have fun watching a new one Matrix film together. Lana Wachowski has the honor of being one of the few openly transgender female directors working in Hollywood right now, and it’s something that should be celebrated. And who knows, maybe I’ll come back Resurrections one day and realized that I was completely wrong to feel what I’m doing about it right now. Anyway, my trip in The matrix was a good way to end 2021, even though restarting didn’t refresh the system properly.
Nicole Veneto graduated from Brandeis University with an MA in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, focusing on Feminist Media Studies. His writing has been featured in MAY Feminism & Visual Culture, Cinematographic Questions Magazine, and Boston University Hoochie Reader. She is the co-host of the new Marvelous podcast! Or, the death of cinema. You can follow her on Letterboxd and Twitter @kuntsuragi for weird and niche movie recommendations.