Everybody likes a resurrection story. Well, not everybody. Seems that fans and critics alike held very mixed feelings over the Lana Wachowski epic that brings audiences back into the matrix. And this time, they bring them in through a side door for which only Lana has the key.
I won’t keep up the suspense. I liked the meta-on-meta take on The Matrix Resurrections. If Wachowski had played it straight, the movie would likely have been an epic failure. Instead, we get a film that runs through all the previous plots like Neo jumping through an agent. All the molecules get rearranged, or I should say bits, so that what we end up with isn’t exactly what we started with, but since it uses all the same raw material (code) as the original, just tweaked here and there by The Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris).
Unlike the previous takes, which sure, had a love story, this version really has a love story. Love is the one thing that seems beyond the reach of the robot empire, but they understand it enough to respect it.
But let me back up. Neo (Keanu Reeves) doesn’t know he is in love at the beginning of Resurrections. He isn’t Neo. He is Thomas Anderson again. All he knows is that he is a now-famous video game inventor who hasn’t done anything as cool as his Matrix Trilogy in years. He’s in therapy for a psychotic break that burned down the barrier between fantasy and reality. Anderson, at one time, seemed to believe in The Matrix—that his life as a video game developer was the fantasy.
And now he is on blue medication.
You know where this is going.
Red and blue pills are involved. Rescues, and yes, very literal resurrections we learn.
Mirrors undulate and white rabbits must be followed. A dapper Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) arises from a bathroom stall to kick off the histrionics.
The previous two Matrix sequels tried to complete a narrative, to offer a logical conclusion to the premise of the original. They sought to answer the question, “Now what?” that Neo is alive, and we know others are in the real world, and that now the savior has arisen, how does he save everyone?
The answer is that the real world doesn’t have saviors. The real world is harsh and toxic, and cruel. The real-world fights back and punishes anomalies. But the real world doesn’t give up on its ambitions either, not the real robot overlords, not the oppressed human batteries. We knew from The Matrix that other challenges had been mounted, other attempts to unleash The One. The Matrix is not a linear narrative but a circular one.
In Resurrections, we find an aging savior who, even when reminded, doesn’t live up to previous levels of redemption. Neo needs a partner. To mount this attack the real-world needs two D batteries lined up end-to-end—enter Tiffany, or rather Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss).
Once they break through the mirror of deception fueled by endless pills and reinforced by a less than perfect world, the two worlds rapidly come into conflict—and we see how the Analyst built this world upon the scraps of previous incarnations. Like dogs distracted by food at the door when a visitor arrives, when the food runs out, old habits reemerge—and that’s what we get in Resurrections. Bullet time, Kung Fu, helicopters, wavy infrastructure, people shifting into agents, all that stuff again, only this time, slightly more maniacal—zombie hordes even storm through the streets, seeking not brains, but the code buckets that are Neo and Trinity.
The rules have changed, but the goal remains the same: placate humanity to power the domination of Earth. And in the end, we hear the analyst give Loki’s Avengers speech about humans craving certainty through control, through rule by a power greater than themselves. The Analyst has a glorious purpose.
We see Neo and Tiffany, however, feel like they do hold all the cards, now that they are back, aware of their real situation, and breath real air in the real world. They are told to change the world, and they say they will. But we don’t see their work.
We don’t see a world remade. Not at the end of Revolutions, not in Resurrections. All we ever get in a Matrix movie is drama at the edge of redemption, we never see a world redeemed.
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