The Matrix Resurrections

“I’m sorry. How could I know this would happen?”
“We didn’t understand all of it back then. No more than we do now.”

(you have entered THE SPOILERTRIX)

When I saw the first trailer for THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS, it wasn’t what I expected. That is to say that it seemed like the sort of thing you would expect from a normal 2020s “legacy sequel” to an old series: bringing back some of the original stars, addressing that they are older now, stripping away some of the excesses of previous sequels, visually and otherwise referencing famous scenes specifically from the first movie. Which is all fine and good, but I figured they must be hiding something, because I didn’t believe Lana Wachowski (working without Lilly, who wanted to take time away from the industry) would come back to THE MATRIX after 18 years just to do something normal. I was betting on her having come up with some weird approach that even if I didn’t like it very much I would respect, as was the case with CLOUD ATLAS and JUPITER ASCENDING.

RESURRECTIONS might be the most accessible movie a Wachowski has made since the original MATRIX, but I don’t think I was wrong. This is a filmmaker making the movie she wants to and not what she thinks anyone else wants, therefore ending up with something no one else would’ve made. And I’m happy to say that I more than respected it. I kind of loved it. Though I wasn’t sure at first.

There’s a rare and thrilling cinematic sensation where an idea teeters over the line into potential ludicrousness and has me thinking I don’t know about this shit, but I hang on and as it sinks in it wins me over. The example that comes to mind is Brian DePalma’s FEMME FATALE, which very late in the game (SPOILERS FOR FEMME FATALE) starts to make it clear that what we’ve been watching has all been a dream. I really thought oh jesus, why would he do this? But I kept watching and as more pieces fell into place it became clear it was the perfect place for the story to go. Landing safely like Evel Knievel.

I kind of felt that nervousness here too when it was revealed that Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves, STREET KINGS) – who lives a normal life in what seems like our contemporary world and has learned to at least say that his adventures as Neo were imagined (see also: RETURN TO OZ) – is the creator of the mega-popular MATRIX trilogy of video games. We see clips of the MATRIX movies presented as clips from his video games, and he even has Trinity, Morpheus and Sentinel action figures on his desk (the real ones from McFarlane Toys, I think). Ah, so this is what so many people meant in tweets that compared THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS to WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE. I was pretty sure it was a spoiler, except I couldn’t picture how that would work.

Yes, this is a movie where characters explicitly discuss a “MATRIX 4” and the fact that “our beloved parent company, Warner Bros.” are “gonna do it with or without us” (a true statement). Being that this is an adventurous and obviously personal movie from one of Hollywood’s most don’t-give-a-fuck blockbuster directors, it really seemed possible to me that it would stay on some TRON bullshit where the events in the other movies that meant so much to some of us were just events inside a video game, and now this is the “real” story. I don’t think I could go for that. Luckily this whole meta thing just turns out to be a distraction to keep “Thomas Anderson” from realizing he’s really Neo, resurrected by the machines to power a new version of The Matrix. (Oh shit, that’s meta too.)

Self-reference is not new, nor is it a get out of jail free card. But THE MATRIX really was trying to communicate a certain view of the world through the exact sort of corporate mechanism that The Matrix represented in the movie, so a sincere artist like Wachowski is going to feel a responsibility to address how its meaning has been watered down, misinterpreted, misunderstood, corrupted or ignored.

“After we spoke, I realized… my life wasn’t a life. At some point, I think I gave up searching for something real.”

The Wachowskis were born at the beginning of what has been labelled Generation X. I’m on the younger end. So when I think of entertainment that reflects the attitudes of our generation, I think of the ‘90s, when people around my age were becoming adults and people around Lana and Lilly’s age were making alot of the art that moved us. THE MATRIX was a big one because so many of its preoccupations and influences – computer programming, electronic dance music, anime, Hong Kong action, etc. – were shit that just wasn’t relevant to the Spielberg/Zemeckis generation of filmmakers. And even if all these guy-feeling-unfulfilled-working-in-a-cubicle movies could be traced back to THE GRADUATE or what have you, they were very much grounded in Gen-X attitudes. Neo feeling adrift putting on a tie and going to work in an office building, then having the authorities show up there to threaten him about his private home life, is very much speaking to the fears of people who grew up after Watergate and Vietnam, came to political awareness during years of recession under Republican presidents, and were shaped by punk, hip hop and/or “alternative” music. We knew about hippie ideals and how they’d stepped aside for the yuppie ones. We were suspicious of conformity and rejected selling out, including but not limited to giving up our youthful passions for a steady paycheck being a cog at some soul-less company.

I love that RESURRECTIONS is not a throwback to those attitudes, but an examination of them from an older perspective. In ’99 Neo’s life was empty because he was working in a cubicle anonymously coding for the MetaCortex software company. In RESURRECTIONS, “Thomas Anderson” has what in 1999 might’ve seemed like a dream job, making a good living creating an awesome and even personal video game series. But from a 2021 perspective we see that that might not have been fulfilling either. Even as “a bona fide famous person and considered by most to be the greatest game designer of our generation,” he hasn’t found his true self. All MATRIX movies explore our fears about what is and isn’t real, but that doesn’t just mean our perceptions of the world outside us – it’s also our expressions of the person inside. Finding the real world is fun, but finding the real you is the deeper message, I think.

In THE MATRIX, Agent Smith knows that the computer professional Thomas Anderson is secretly also the hacker Neo, and says that “One of these lives has a future, the other does not.” The beginning of RESURRECTIONS explores what might’ve happened if he was right, and “Thomas Anderson” was the life that survived. These names that the rebels have chosen for themselves (like rappers, super heroes or former Ain’t It Cool writers) represent their true selves. Every time they say “Thomas Anderson” it feels wrong, because that’s not who he is. He’s Neo. The new character Bugs (Jessica Henwick, ON THE ROCKS) knows it; when Morpheus mentions Thomas Anderson she says “maybe you know him by his real name, Neo.” And one of the great adrenaline pumping moments in the movie is when being called “Tiff” one too many times finally reminds a blue-pilled Trinity of who she really is. “I wish you would fucking stop calling me that,” she says. “I hate that name. My name is Trinity.”

I believe there is trans meaning in that. You call a trans person by the name they want to be called, and not their “dead name.” But I also think it’s universal – we want to be seen as the person we want to be, and not the person people perceive us to be, or society expects us to be.

Of course, Smith always called Neo “Mr. Anderson,” and now that Neo’s douchey business partner (Jonathan Groff, AMERICAN SNIPER) turns out to be some sort of reincarnation of Smith, he always calls him “Tom.” A way to casually disrespect him.

Unfortunately Hugo Weaving was committed to a play, and they didn’t wait for him. I don’t know if this was the original plan, but it would be great if he was in it and just straight up played the I-may-wear-a-blazer-but-don’t-worry,-I-don’t-like-ties-and-I-do-like-sneakers business partner. Neo and Agent Smith having tension making video games together, having no idea of their past.

I’ve seen some raves for Groff. I think he’s okay. I like the moment right before he remembers he’s Smith, when he notices a gun dropped on the floor during the police raid, and he eyes it, clearly wanting to pick it up and just start killing people. To me it really expresses this truth that there are certain motherfuckers out there who pretend to be regular nice people but would absolutely jump at the chance to be a fuckin fascist asshole putting a boot on your face.

Though I guess that’s not really what Smith is at this point. He continues to be an anomaly with his own agenda. He talks about “the nature of things” being “Ones and zeroes, light and dark, choice and its absence, Anderson and Smith,” but a major theme of the movie is moving beyond such binaries. That connects to Wachowski’s gender, of course, but I think it extends to an entire philosophy.

In THE MATRIX, the Wachowskis used the classic fantasy tropes of a prophecy and a chosen one. In RELOADED and REVOLUTIONS they seemed possibly troubled by that, having characters philosophize about destiny vs. free will. Here Lana comes up with a really appealing way of looking at it. Bugs rejects “binary conceptions of the world,” but the red pill/blue pill exercise is not “some symbolic reduction of my life” because “The choice is an illusion. You already know what you have to do.”

If you’re the type of person that’s gonna take the red pill, you’re gonna take the red pill. If you’re the type of person that’s gonna convince a corporation to spend $120 million on a SPEED RACER movie that’s a weird visual experiment with an anti-corporate message, you’re gonna do that. “That ain’t a choice,” except that’s you, so it was your choice. I like the part where Neo tries to take the blame for Bugs disobeying, and Niobe tells him “Do not rob my ex-captain of her agency.”

According to a transcript I found online, the word “choice” appears in the movie 11 times. That’s as many times as “machine.” When discussing freeing people, it’s always emphasized that it has to be their choice. Even Trinity. No one is really sure she’ll want to wake up from her life as “Tiffany,” a mother, builder of motorcycles and wife of a dude named Chad who calls her “babe” and is played by Neo-stunt-double-turned-JOHN-WICK-director Chad Stahelski. Maybe Tiffany is the real her. Maybe that’s her choice.

(Nah. No way.)

“Allow me to sum up our goal in a single word: ‘bullet time.’”

In the sequel’s silliest scenes, the Deus Machina development team discuss what THE MATRIX means to people and what THE MATRIX 4 has to be, and it definitely feels like ridicule (and maybe verbatim quotes) of specific real life dipshits the Wachowskis have dealt with over the years. It’s goofy as hell to put all this into a sequel. It’s also a tip off about which things the director does not believe are as important in a MATRIX 4 as other people might. For example, when the obnoxious Jude (Andrew Caldwell, HAUNT) talks about “We need a new ‘bullet time.’ We need to revolutionize gaming again,” it signals that the previous MATRIX ethos of trying to bowl us over with a bullet time or a burly brawl is not really on the agenda anymore. So, fair warning.

Despite the broadness of these scenes, I think they do a good job of illustrating how just having a popular piece of art inherently trivializes the intent of said art. The people shown talking about philosophy, ideas and metaphors in THE MATRIX sound almost as wrong as the ones talking about guns, mayhem and “I like my games big, loud and dumb.” A character played by SPEED RACER’s Christina Ricci shares a focus group “packet” showing that “originality” and “fresh” are the top two words that come up in “keyword association with the brand,” and therefore are “great things to keep in mind as you begin working on MATRIX 4.”

You know – just make one of those original and fresh part 4s. That’s what the brand is all about!

The premise/joke of NEW NIGHTMARE was that telling scary stories about the fictional character of Freddy Krueger had been keeping an ancient primeval force at bay – an evil that was gaining power due to the character being watered down in increasingly silly sequels. It was Craven’s way of taking a swipe at followups he wasn’t involved in while also acknowledging the reality that familiarity tends to weaken horror. I think THE MATRIX is more personal to Wachowski than ELM STREET ever was to Craven, so her meta-commentary is also more personal. It’s not just I don’t like what they did with my creation, it’s you pour your soul into this stuff and the machine/the industry/the culture strips its power away until all you can see is a pile of memes and references and i.p. Your heart has become a “brand.”

“They took your story, something that meant so much to people like me,” Bugs says to Neo, “and turned it into something trivial. That’s what the Matrix does. It weaponizes every idea. Every dream. Everything that’s important to us.”

So true, Bugs. But then she says, “Where better to bury truth than inside something as ordinary as a video game?” And that last part strikes me as contradicting, or at least questioning, the very idea of making something like THE MATRIX. The Wachowskis were trying to deliver (not bury) their truth in something as ordinary as some videos games, and some movies, and an anime. And I have to believe that at least Lana still believes in that possibility. She could’ve collected a fat check with an executive producer credit on the LAST ACTION HERO and READY PLAYER ONE writer’s Morpheus prequel or whatever they announced a few years ago. Instead she made this.

The point is that one could never make a movie like THE MATRIX just by setting out to make a movie like THE MATRIX. You could only do it if you really have something you need to say. And I think the specifics of RESURRECTION, both positive and negative, come down to it being what Wachowski needs to say at this moment.

“Now, for the bad news. Your brain is hooked on this shit the Matrix has been force-feeding you for years. Hooked bad. You’re going through major withdrawals.”

I love sequels that riskily switch things up from their predecessors. But here it’s a shock because the changes are mostly a rebellion against the masterful visual craft that still makes the previous MATRIX movies stand out. The camerawork is intentionally closer and less precise, emphasizing emotion and performance over slickness. That choice has a legitimate philosophy behind it, but it can’t help but be disappointing to those of us who love the original style and place a high value on clarity and storytelling in martial arts sequences. Just because we love the substance doesn’t mean we don’t care about the surface.

Though Wachowski brought back comic book legends Geof Darrow and Steve Skroce as designers, she did not get the original trilogy’s brilliant cinematographer Bill Pope, opting instead for her more recent collaborator John Toll (THE THIN RED LINE, RISE: BLOOD HUNTER). When Toll couldn’t come back after a months long pandemic break 17 days into shooting, Wachowski promoted Daniele Massaccesi, who had been a camera operator on SPEED RACER and JUPITER ASCENDING.

(Trivia: he’s the son of Italian exploitation legend Joe D’Amato [ABSURD], and got his start working on camera crews in Italy [STAGEFRIGHT, CASTLE FREAK, even the blatantly MATRIX inspired EQUILIBRIUM]).

Massaccesi told Indiewire that Wachowski had developed a more improvisational, steadicam-based style on her Netflix series Sense8, and told him not to mimic the previous MATRIXes. “Don’t worry about those, this is a different movie.”

New cast member Groff also commented on the changing style in a profile in Entertainment Weekly.

“She was explaining to us how, in her earlier work, she would storyboard things like they were comic books almost, and create exact frames of what she wanted as her way of literally controlling her narrative, because there was so much out of control inside of her. Then when she embraced her identity, this articulated itself in her work and opened her up to the idea of capturing the things that can’t be controlled.”

The Indiewire piece explains that Massaccesi lights the scenes so that “if an actor wants to move in an unexpected way, I accommodate them.” Co-star Henwick confirmed to Collider that Wachowski liked to set up for 360 degrees of coverage, saying she’d sometimes leave the camera running for 20 minutes straight. “It’s very much how she feels in the moment. It’s very instinctive for her. It’s fascinating to watch. I’ve never worked with a director who is going so much on a gut feeling.” Very much the opposite of the first film, where they famously storyboarded every shot just to explain to executives what the fuck they were talking about.

I can see why that’s too much for some people to get past. I’m kinda surprised I’m not among you. But I didn’t want Wachowski to pander to anybody, and I’m included in anybody. When I think of RELOADED, my mind goes straight to the spectacular freeway sequence. For RESURRECTIONS one of the first things I think of is a scene that’s just about Neo and Trinity, believing they’re Thomas and Tiffany, having a conversation at a coffee shop. It’s a testament to the power of these characters and the ability of Reeves, Moss and Wachowski to deepen their humanity and their connection.

But I love action, so I do wish more of the action scenes (which are directed by Wachowski, not a second unit) hit me as hard as that. Surprisingly, the film’s low point is when Neo and the rebels have a big fight against exile programs, including Tiger Chen playing presumably his same character from RELOADED. But unlike the mesmerizing chateau fight, this one is shot close up and jittery and I had to really study it to find the part where you could make out his face for like half a second.

(Chen is credited as M.O.T.C., which I tried to decode for a while before I realized it’s the initials of the great movie he stars in from director Keanu Reeves. Duh.)

Nobody could fill Yuen Woo Ping’s shoes, though choreographer Joshua Grothe (Sense8) and stunt coordinators Scott Rogers and Jonathan Eusebio (JOHN WICK, BIRDS OF PREY) do work in lots of cool running up walls and twirling over cars and shit, and Reeves does quite a bit of hand-to-hand, as you’d hope. Bugs slides down the sign from the first film’s Heart o’ the City Hotel, busting light bulbs in what I took as an homage to POLICE STORY. But, whether it’s meant as a change of pace or a comment on modern action or what, Wachowski trades the awed slo-mo for more of a chaotic run and gun style. I think it’s most effective in Neo’s one-on-ones. I did like the big sequence where the rebels travel dark streets mobbed by hordes of bots in almost a fast zombie type of battle, and The Matrix using its residents as artillery shells is a terrifying new development. But I can’t say it wouldn’t be improved by more carefully planned shots.

Big action spectacle and Yuen Woo Ping choreography are not all I love about the MATRIX trilogy, but they certainly are a big part of it. So the miracle here is how much RESURRECTIONS still works for me without them.

Well, not entirely without them. It climaxes in a truly incredible stunt – Reeves and Moss themselves jumping off a 43 story highrise in San Francisco, suspended by wires, something they shot “around 19 or 20 times” according to Reeves, at sunrise so they could use the natural lighting. Though it doesn’t have that green screen look we’re used to, Wachowski is so much more interested in the emotions of the characters than in showing off what they did that I suspect many viewers won’t even realize it was a stunt. Which kinda makes it even more impressive.

“Everything was simpler back then. People wanted to be free. It’s different now.”

Only Wachowski (or maybe Spike Lee) would give us a cool new next-gen character and name her “Bugs.” It’s maybe a joke about the WB corporation, the Alice in Wonderland rabbit symbolism, and spying and programming lingo. Or maybe it’s just a good weird name for a futuristic kung fu lady with blue hair who awakens Neo for the second time and helps change the world again. Either way, I approve.

After “Thomas” meets a Morpheus-Smith hybrid (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, AQUAMAN, US) program that he himself created (see also: COOL WORLD, MONKEYBONE) he is re-woke and Bugs switches from audience surrogate to tour guide of the new reality 60 years after REVOLUTIONS. Though I’m overall positive on the STAR WARS sequel trilogy, it bums me out how it basically voids what was the triumphant ending of Lucas’ trilogy/sextet – turns out the Empire just got a new name and helmets and the war went on for generations more. So I really appreciate the scene in RESURRECTIONS where Neo worries that “It feels like everything I did, everything we did, like none of it mattered,” but Bugs shows him how he “changed everything.” The truce he created with the machines (who now prefer to be called Synthients) “had a huge impact on their world” – so much so that three of them are on Bugs’ hovercraft crew, and were instrumental in rescuing him. (I love that this also fulfills the promise of my favorite ANIMATRIX short, Matriculated, where humans tried to recruit robots to their side.)

Jada Pinkett Smith (DEMON KNIGHT) returns as Niobe, now a general and wearing old-age makeup since she’s, what, in her 90s? Now the leader of an underground city called Io, she gets more of a character to play than before, and she’s an interesting part of the story because she’s an obstacle to what Bugs and Neo want to do (partly filling the role of her ex, Commander Lock in RELOADED and REVOLUTIONS) without being wrong. She argues that just as the bullshit, the “noise the Matrix pumps into your head,” keeps the coppertops distracted in The Matrix, war was keeping the red pills distracted in Zion. “Zion was stuck in the past. Stuck in war. Stuck in a Matrix of its own. They believed that it had to be us or them. This city was built by us and them.”

Her primary responsibility is to maintain peace for Io, where life is way better than in the old days because of all the cool shit humans and Synthients can do by working together – including the de-extinction of strawberries. In fact they’re so inclusive of artificial intelligence (or “digital sentience”) here that they’ve developed a technology of floating magnetic BBs so programs like the new Morpheus can have a physical presence in the real world and make contributions of their own.

(Side note: Imagine the raves they must have in this place! Synthients and programs dancing all up on each other. That’s one thing I missed, this is the only MATRIX without any dancing.)

I love the generational differences in this story. Bugs and her crew are younger, so in some ways more militant than previous generations. They like going into the Matrix where they have cool sunglasses and various lines shaved into their hair, can jump through mirrors and fire off bullets by the hundreds. They disobey the “protocols” to achieve their dream of proving that Neo is still alive.

Niobe did shit like that when she was young, but “the world was different then. We were different.” Bugs says Niobe cares more about growing fruit than freeing minds. But both are important. They each have their role in creating a better world.

Though Bugs and her generation have grown up in a different status quo, working with Synthients, they also study Neo’s life and largely follow original recipe Morpheus’ methods, beliefs and style. Niobe (like Wachowski, I’m pretty sure) believes that we must continue to evolve in our thinking. Morpheus was a great man who changed the world, but stayed stuck in what became the old ways (the prophecy of The One), dooming Zion. Niobe’s Io advances us beyond the 1999 need to rage against the machine into the next step of using our ingenuity and creativity to make the world better. As governments and companies increasingly paint us into a corner on climate change, that seems like a better thing for sci-fi to focus on than uprising.

No, scratch that. It seems like an additional important thing for sci-fi to focus on.

Though they disobey her, the younger generation also have great respect for Niobe, and have inherited some of her optimism and belief in problem solving. When Bugs explains to Neo that they have no idea how they could rescue Trinity, another member of her crew, Lexy (Erendira Ibarra, Sense8), says, “Yet. Nobody believed we’d ever find him, but we did.”

And Bugs says, “Okay. We don’t know how to get her out… yet.” I found that very inspiring.

Like Niobe, Neo has gained wisdom over time. He tells new-Morpheus “I’m done fighting,” and he seems to mean it. His kung fu is mostly defensive, and he uses his trademark bullet-blocking force field hands constantly. I feel dumb that I didn’t notice on the first viewing that neither Neo or Trinity ever pick up a gun in this one. There’s plenty of gunplay between the young rebels and the modern hyper-militarized stormtrooper cops, but Neo and Trinity are beyond that. Despite whatever misgivings I may have about how the focus on self defense affects the action scenes, I respect the hell out of it. Yet another reason why Neo is the coolest.

“I remember this. I remember us. My dream ended here.”

I always loved that BATMAN RETURNS took the ending of BATMAN and flipped it, so Batman is the one in the car mooning over a woman and the woman (the Catwoman, to be specific) is the one up on a building in front of the bat signal looking awesome. RESURRECTIONS kind of does something like that to the ending of THE MATRIX, where Neo flew up into the sky, into the camera. He does that again but this time he’s following behind Trinity.

Though that sort of referencing has become far from novel in the decades since BATMAN RETURNS, this one kind of overachieves in the amount of levels it works on. First, you’ve got the standard “it’s cool because this time they’re giving the hero treatment to the woman.” Second, the autobiographical aspect of Wachowski (according to the meta narrative of the movie) having put alot of herself into the character of Neo, and now placing Trinity front and center instead. Third, the retroactive implication that Neo wasn’t The One and then lost his powers – it now seems those powers always came from the combination of Neo and Trinity. This is a love story where having a soul mate is just as heavy as being the chosen one.

What I love most about it though is how it works as an end to the series (assuming that’s what it is). I have no idea if Lana actually had any interest in doing further chapters where Neo and Trinity paint the sky with rainbows as they promised (which, of course, I’d be down for), but even if she did, I doubt she sees the apparent box office failure as much of a loss. I’m not saying she’d be mad if RESURRECTIONS was so popular that Bugs-as-in-the-bunny replaced the actual Bugs Bunny as the WB mascot. She’d probly get a kick out of that. But I’m positive she can be proud to have made a small movie that some of us loved and that tanked hard enough to make any further “brand” exploitation by WB unlikely for a while. That’s definitely a victory.

And for the rest of us, I figure the ending will stand as a reset back to that glorious pre-sequel time when we got to let our imaginations fly off into the sky with Neo and wonder what happens next. It’s a blank canvas once again, but this time maybe we’ll come to it with the wisdom of age, the optimism of Io, and the support of a weird looking Synthient friend named Kujaku.


P.S. a few other random notes

As with the Kid’s Story short in THE ANIMATRIX, I think it’s a little scary that a primary method of “freeing your mind” in this chapter is jumping off a building. It works well for the story but considering the way some people have responded to THE MATRIX and “simulation theory” I can’t help but worry what some mind somewhere might do with that. Wachowski even maybe acknowledges this by having The Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris, Capitol Critters) say, “There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s what artists do. But it becomes a problem when fantasies endanger us or other people.” (Of course, The Analyst is the bad guy.)

Which brings me to one way this is a throwback to 1999 attitudes: the portrayal of a psychiatrist making Neo suppress his true self. The Analyst is secretly the architect of the new Matrix, lying to Neo about reality and prescribing pills to keep him under control. It’s convenient for the plot but does seem like a deliberate swipe at psychiatry. I saw one tweet suggesting that’s a trans thing, so I won’t pass judgment on that. But I know so many people who really have freed themselves by working through issues with therapists and using medical science to balance their chemistry. It’s a shame to scare people away from something that could really improve their lives.

On a more positive note, I had actual goosebumps on my arms when the end credits hit. Though I found the ending satisfying and exciting, it was definitely more about the song playing. There’s nostalgia there since it’s a cover of “Wake Up,” the song from the original movie, and I had actually wondered if they would bring back some form of Rage Against the Machine. It even occurred to me maybe Run the Jewels featuring Zack de la Rocha could be one updated version. It did not occur to me that they would get Brass Against, whose Youtube videos I have watched many times because of how much I love the idea of a brass band covering songs like Rage’s “Killing in the Name Of” and Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.” (And yes, I know that the band recently made headlines because their singer peed on a guy on stage. Not my thing but who cares, I’m glad she didn’t eat a bat or something.)

I loved hearing that blasting in a theater – it’s an acknowledgment of the song’s importance to the original MATRIX, the greatness of the song, and the greatness of this cover. Obviously it works on a couple different levels that it’s a woman vocalist (who really fuckin nails it, in my opinion), and I would add that this is also a version of the song that brings together more musicians and more styles to achieve its goals. Kind of an Io approach. Long live Io.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 29th, 2021 at 7:08 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews, Romance, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

68 Responses to “The Matrix Resurrections”

  1. Great review, Vern (:

  2. I can get behind the idea of downplaying the action. I think I would prefer if she made a Matrix movie with no action as a total drama if she really didn’t want that to be the focus. That might be too much for even Lana Wachowski to sell WB on. But I’d prefer no action to bad action.

    That said, the worst fight (the exile programs fight) has my favorite moment where the Merovingian is lamenting how much better things were in his day and eventually just shouting gibberish franchise terminology. “I will sequel franchise reboot!”

    The meta commentary makes up for the action for me and it’s my favorite part of this entry. I also appreciate the way it addressed our complicated symbiosis with technology. Wish Trinity had more actual screen time and Wachowski still hasn’t shaken her tendency to let characters monologue exposition, but it sunk in more the second time and I’ll probably watch it a third before it leaves hbo max.

    I did like the motorcycle chase with the bodies dropping. That was inventive.

  3. Just got back from seeing it (for the first time) in the theater! Serendipity!

    It certainly has many of the flaws of the sequels; it’s disjointed if not quite incoherent, it’s larded up with characters and callbacks which it doesn’t have a real meaningful use for, it’s peppered with interesting ideas which it absolutely cannot conceive of showing rather than telling. Plus it adds some new flaws; the action is mostly disappointing (give or take a stray badass slow-mo pose and the rather stellar zombie chase climax), the cinematography makes it look like a particularly expensive TV show, and although I chuckled a bit at the brazenness of the meta-jokes about making a fourth Matrix Sequel, I’m not sure the whole opening act is meaningfully in conversation with anything that happens afterwords. I suppose you could say it’s an example of Bugs’ claim that The The Matrix “turned it into something trivial. That’s what the Matrix does. It weaponizes every idea. Every dream. Everything that’s important to us,” except that if that’s what the Matrix does, the Real World doesn’t seem meaningfully different, since they have Neo and Trinity stans out there too who get so jazzed about bringing them back that they’re immediately willing to risk their lives (in fairness, this has pretty much always been a problem with the series; it’s never really been able to articulate why living in The Matrix is so bad, and never spared so much as a thought for the lives of people who inhabit it. Not a huge problem in the original, where “truth” is by itself the point, but much more of an issue as the philosophical scope of the series broadened).

    But, with all those caveats, I did sort of love it, I think?

    I’m not necessary convinced that it’s more than simple nostalgia pandering to late gen-Xers of a certain bent, but if so, apparently I’m here for it. Reeves and Moss have both grown as actors so much that it retroactively makes their goofy, phoned-in love story in the original trilogy feel moving and legitimate, which helps enormously. But I dunno, you can just feel the love here — between them, but also more generally in the movie. It’s a nice movie. Even when it hits rough patches, it’s just too good-hearted and sweet for me not to be on its side. And so help me God, you can laugh at me and you’d be completely entitled to it, and I imagine the version of me that saw THE MATRIX on video in 1999 would be the first to agree with you, but I cannot tell a lie, I was just delighted by the ending. Is it nostalgia? Is it just that “Wake Up” is such a total banger that I’m incapable of not getting pumped when it comes on, even in a fiesty but also kinda kitschy brass band cover? If you’re going to argue that The Matrix “weaponizes every idea. Every dream. Everything that’s important to us,” isn’t this kind of blatant you-can-go-home-again nostalgia baiting pretty much doing exactly that? Is this actually defensible as storytelling, let alone art? I’m not eager to argue the point, but I felt what I felt, and there’s no denying it. And that feeling: pure, unbridled joy. I don’t know what that says about the movie, or what that says about me, but there it is.

    PS: Jessica Henwick stealth MVP. She’s so good it feels like a real misstep to not give her a more central role in the climax, even if it is Neo and Trinity who are at the heart of the story.

  4. I enjoyed this movie very much also, and I disagree with the common notion that The Matrix and its sequels are flawed versions of ideal sci-fi action movies. I think they are just so much more interesting than what is expected of that type of film. I wonder if they were in French and subtitled would people be more receptive? I think they benefit from being taken on their own bizarre terms, like foreign films.

  5. My time to shine, a non-binary trans perspective!

    So Io is an alliance of humans, programs and robots right? Which, freaking cool, but also, as underlined by Niobe, a big difference between them and Zion. Zion was at war, fighting for validation, becoming very black-and-white, binary as you will. But then, the war has ended and the peace facilitated some new ideas. And then those new ideas became lived in. And then a new war, just a natural result of resource scarcity, with frontlines in unintuitive places.

    My beautiful friends, this is exactly what happened in LGBT last 20 years. Which would kinda make the end of Revolutions legalization of gay marriage (and NPH’s character JK Rowling?), but let’s not dwell on that. Personally, when I watched the 1999 movie, it spoke to me on the level of cool guns and action (boy) and feeling validated as an outsider in a world I don’t belong in (trans). It took many many years to understand what exactly I am, cuz you know, Zion-like, I was thinking in binaries. First, welp, I gotta be gay, even tho I’m clearly attracted to women. Then, damn, I gotta be a binary trans, although I have no real body dysphoria. Took a smartphone revolution and a decade of internet for the information on other identities to reach me and slowly take over that black-and-white thinking. I’d love to talk to Lana about her trans journey, where is she now, compare notes. Right now, I’m in a place of exploration instead of searching for validation, but haven’t been here long. God bless Bugs, Sati and Lexy, aka Gen Z kids.

    To address Mr Subtlety’s point, as much as this is a GenX-er movie (which it fully is), I don’t think it’s pandering much. This weaponized nostalgia we see in the blockbusters last couple years is all about trying to make audience feel like a child again by recognition – telling the same story they’ve heard then, when life was simple (which it only really was for non-LGBT folks btw). This story is a story of a grown ass trans woman reckoning with how the world has changed since she told it the first time and it’s made for a grown ass audience to reflect on. For similar reasons, it’s gonna be hated not unlike The Last Jedi, as the franchise promises that childlike wonder you remember from way past – and this movie gives you change, complexity and disappointments of adulthood. And it’s ok to expect escapism from your entertainment, Marvel movies all but conditioned us to do so!

    But yeah, despite its many flaws, I wouldn’t want this one any other way. It’s not 1-to-1 a trans narrative and I’m sure cis folks can relate to it as well – smartphones forced all of us to be constant outsiders and so did aging – but damn, it feels good to have a weird blockbuster made by a person like me.

  6. >“They took your story, something that meant so much to people like me,” Bugs says to Neo, “and turned it into something trivial. That’s what the Matrix does. It weaponizes every idea. Every dream. Everything that’s important to us.”

    See, I can’t help but look at that and feel like it’s a bit rich coming from a filmmaker that has gotten hundreds of millions of dollars–several times over–to realize their vision (which has flopped repeatedly). It’s like Zack Snyder complaining that the WB stabbed him in the back after getting two and a half movies to do his own weird Killer Superman thing. Yeah, dude, sucks that you had to edit out Ben Affleck’s ass shot or whatever, but you do realize how ridiculously entitled what you’re saying is?

    As for the movie… ehh. It’s basically a reunion special, only they couldn’t get anyone but Neo and Trinity to come back, yet they still insist on including ‘not really’ Morpheus and Smith, even though they don’t do anything except remind everyone that they were in (not really) the first three. And the whole thing of Neo casually creating a second Matrix inside his laptop or whatever, which is fully capable of spawning a sentient being–yeesh. I like my sci-fi to be a little harder than Weird Science.

  7. PS. Speaking to the non-binary of it all, funny how the ending of the movie didn’t hinge on defeating anyone, just realizing your self-worth and beginning exploring what you’re able to do.

    Also, that moment when Trinity rejects Neo and goes „sorry, it’s too late for me” and he, without a blink, goes „I understand” – that’s the realest shit.

  8. So last week, I went to see West Side Story, but because I forgot this was opening on Wednesday, the showtimes I looked at the Tuesday night before would be all wrong. So I get to the theater, and the first showing of West is in three hours. My only option? Nu Matrix.

    I can’t say I liked it. But I most certainly will remember it. As it gave me a theatrical experience I’ve never had before. I was seated at the edge of the stadium seats at the railing, and the other dozen or so patrons were all seated behind me. At the end credits, I stood up, turned around, and discovered I was the only person that made it to end. Everyone else had given up. I can’t say that’s ever happened before, as usually someone would be left.

    Unfortunately, I can’t say when the last person gave up, as I assumed people were just going to the bathroom, and I didn’t notice they weren’t coming back. I know one of tissue-covered Jada’s speeches sent a bunch of people ‘to the bathroom’, but I wish I would have noticed which straw broke the last person’s back.

  9. I wanted to like this, but. I really, really didn’t. As others have said above, it had all the flaws of the second and third movie with none of the cool shit from the first. It felt like they made a giant Excel spreadsheet of all the references (visuals, dialogue, cameos, etc.) they had to stuff in lest the nerds weep, and then figured out how much of a script they could spackle into the gaps between easter eggs. After 20 minutes of literally nothing but easter eggs and meta-commentary, I wasn’t at all sure how I was gonna survive two and a half hours. I did, but a week later the only things about it I can remember at all are the things I disliked. Oh, well.

  10. This one gets worse every time I think about it. It was moderately entertaining in the moment and almost entirely inadequate on reflection. Remove everything except Neo and Trinity and it would have been a cute Matrix Christmas Special or something, because every other aspect was sub-par at best. The action is heartbreakingly bad. The new characters are all terrible except for blue-haired girl, who was merely unexceptional. (I like Jessica Henwick a lot but the praise she’s getting for this nothing role is inexplicable to me. The hair isn’t THAT cool.) The set-up is intriguing but all of the payoffs are lame and unsatisfying. Its stakes and rules are poorly defined, resulting in a climax without momentum or resolution. And quite frankly, after all the hype I was expecting the movie’s basic premise to be a little more mindblowing than “Everything is exactly the same, except cheaper and snarkier.” I just don’t see any of this depth everyone on Twitter assues me is there (without ever getting into what exactly is so deep about, except to suggest that if you don’t get it then there is something wrong with you).

    I don’t disagree with any of the interpretations of what this all is supposed to be saying, but who gives a shit when it says it so badly? Like, good for Lana that she feels so comfortable with herself that she can shoot this sloppily, but how in the fuck does that matter to me, a moviegoer who just wants to enjoy exciting or at least competently assembled cinematic sequences? There’s that quote going around about how writing this helped Lana get over the death of her parents, and I can see that. But making bad art can be just as cathartic for the artist as making good art. Maybe more so, because we attach so much more of ourselves to the work that we can indulge ourselves to a degree we can’t in a work we are more objective about. Back in grad school, when we presented our stories to the group, we were not allowed to talk during the workshop, because anything we had to say would taint the discussion of the actual work. If it wasn’t on the page, it’s not in the story. I honestly feel that without those interview quotes about what Lana was going for, this movie would be indistinguishable from a tossed-off cash-in, full of loose ends and entire subplots that exist for no reason and go nowhere. Exactly the kind of crowd-sourced franchise pablum its defenders decry.

    I see a lot of refusal to admit that intention and execution are very different things, because no one cares about execution anymore. That’s the text. Text is dead. Only subtext exists in this dojo, so pointing out the deletorious effect of subpar filmmaking or storytelling on a work that holds the correct opinions for its time and place translates to disagreement with those opinions. Personally, I prefer a movie that makes the wrong point well (like, say, DIRTY HARRY) than a movie that makes the right point poorly. I don’t need to be agreed with. That’s not what stories are for.

    So all this leaves me as sort of a man without a country on this one. Obviously I have no common ground with the half of the audience that’s pissed that the sci-fi franchise about fluid identity and capitalist tyranny created by two trans sisters has SUDDENLY gone woke out of nowhere. But I also feel no kinship with the side that claims this sloppy, poorly thought out, often embarassing half-speed retread is great, actually, because its heart is in the right place and anybody who doesn’t get that just doesn’t understand it. One side is full of morons, and the other side is full of people really excited for the opportunity to look down on morons. I see no truth here. Just opposing zealots locked in an unending ideological war I have no interest in. I just want an exciting movie that I can believe in. That’s all I ever ask for. And this isn’t it.

    Yup. It’s THE LAST JEDI all over again.

  11. The best, most observant and intelligent review of this movie I’ve seen. Frankly Ebert level in it’s cut through the bullshit of louder opinions of the moment quality. Well done Vern gonna keep this one handy.

  12. I get why people hate it. Acknowledging, within the text, that doing a soft reboot of THE MATRIX would be a cynical cash grab doesn’t excuse you from then doing it. I always go back to FUNNY GAMES — you can tell me “Well you’re not SUPPOSED to like it, that’s the point!” but that doesn’t flip some switch that makes me like it. So RESURRECTIONS having bad action as a commentary on that I shouldn’t care so much about action doesn’t really fly with me.

    That said. Perhaps it’s the cinematic era we live in, but I find myself desperate for anything that carries a hint of authorial voice or like, just one single artistic decision made by an individual at any point in the filmmaking process. This movie has that! I don’t care if the boring (in terms of cinematography and choreography) action sequences in marvel have minimally more competence than the boring action sequences in M4. M4 bothers to tell you “this action sequence is important because what is at stake here is symbolic of the super personal conflict that I, the filmmaker, am making my movie about.”

    I didn’t need TERMINATOR or ALIEN to explain to me what its action Represented, because these movies were conversant in subtext without having to be self conscious about it. But I will certainly take M4’s hamfistedness over whatever ourobosian concerns I’m supposed to have for the consequences in most of the tentpole movies I see nowadays. Movies that are precision engineered down to the molecular level to be about nothing at all.

    I think you could make an argument that M4 is the first Matrix sequel to do something drastically new with the series. 2 and 3 basically zoom in on what was established in 1 and explore the consequences. They elaborate on Neo’s place as chosen one, Morpheus’s as prophet, and so on. “How would people react to such characters? How would the politics play out?” But the actual plot eventualities in those movies seem almost pointlessly specific given that we already understand the basic premise/metaphor of the Matrix. It’s basically a long elaboration of the final moment in 1 where Neo vows to wake everybody up; 2 and 3 was the process by which he achieved that goal, and established the peace conditions under which people could be awakened as per the terms of the truce.

    In 4, you get the idea of the Matrix evolving to re-enslave even the illuminated by presenting its agents as the approachable, laid back “I’m your friend actually!” bosses and coworkers who ostensibly care about the same things you care about. It feels like whatever spirit of rebellion or individuality you can muster, the algorithms are ten steps ahead of you, processing that spirit and selling it back to you as Nietzschean opiate. Though they were visually incredibly dorky, the sequence where The Analyst zips around slow-mo Neo was an uncanny symbol for how I have felt watching the world end over the past several years. I found it effective on a nearly primordial level.

  13. Mr. M — I don’t disagree with anything you said, exactly, but I dunno, isn’t there something to be said just for the good vibes this one has? I suspect that’s why you enjoyed it in the moment. For all its flaws, I think it’s just kind of sweet. I didn’t know about Lana writing it to get over her parents’ deaths until after I saw it, but it sure does make perfect sense in retrospect, and you can sure feel it on-screen. There’s just so much affection for the characters here. Nostalgia, I suppose, too; hell, maybe more nostalgia than genuine care, because, you know, they were hardly characters to begin with. But unlike the cynical nostalgia-baiting we usually get with the revived GHOSTBUSTERS, STAR WARSES, etc, this time it feels sincere. Sort of sentimental, just an aging romantic lady deciding that fuck it, you can go home again. We love Neo and Trinity –maybe just because they make us remember being silly mixed-up teenagers in a time that felt more innocent and hopeful, but fuck it, the heart wants what it wants– and we just want them to get together and live happily ever after, and why shouldn’t they, after all?

    Back in the 90’s, we would have snickered at such a absurdly happy, corny ending. We wanted dark endings back then, mindfuck twists, figured that was what being real was all about. But in 2021, I’ll happily accept such a frivolous, kindhearted fantasy. The franchise didn’t need it, but I needed it, I think. If Neo and Trinity are my goofy Manic-Panic-dyed mopey self-serious teenage self, why not let them fly off into the sunset, content that they’ll somehow be able to right all the world’s wrongs? It’s dumb, but it’s nice, and frankly the word could probably use more niceness than smartness these days. It’s a renewable resource which is somehow always in short supply, and I, for one, don’t think I am capable of turning my back on such a motherload of niceness just because it’s a big ol’ mess.

  14. I guess I’m just not that nice.

  15. Mr. M. nailed it. All I’m looking for is a good movie. Spidey and now Matrix have let me down. Thank God for Last Night in Soho, Dune and The Suicide Squad. Also No Sudden Move was amazing this year as was The Night House. I did like The Last Jedi though, it was a cool ending to Luke’s story arc.

  16. That glib little response aside, I can’t fault anyone for feeling feels. As I’ve said before, the Neo/Trinity stuff is not just the only thing that works, it’s the only story the movie has to tell. Everything else is just shoeleather to get to their happy ending. Me, I think making a movie that’s 90% half-baked ideas, flop-sweat “She didn’t get out of the cockadoodie car!” narrative retrofitting, and badly doodled world-building is gonna make achieving emotional catharsis for the one plot thread the movie gives a shit about pretty difficult to come by, especially if there isn’t even any good spectacle to get the adrenaline going. I honestly think the movie would have been greatly improved with none of the real world stuff at all. No explanation, no blue-haired girl, no Nu-Morpheus (who had no purpose anyway), no Analyst, no Jada Pinkett, no nothing. Just Neo and Trinity, inexplicably back in the Matrix but apparently different people, slowly, gradually remembering who they really are through contact with each other, and deciding, you know what? Who cares about the nature of reality? Who cares if this world is real or not? What does it matter? What would it change? We have each other and that’s all the counts. Reality can take care of itself for a minute. Me and my girl got a date.

    THAT would be a romantic movie. This approach is a half-measure that dilutes itself with extraneous ingredients of dubious quality.

  17. As often happens here, there were some good comments that the software (the Matrix?) thought were spam until I told it othewise. So if Maciek’s posts weren’t there last time you looked be sure to scroll up.

  18. Great review Vern, one of your best. And yeah, I loved the movie as well, despite being more Mr. Destiny than a Matrix sequel. Which is fine with me since I like Mr. Destiny more than any of the Matrix sequels. I think Broddie hit the nail on the head comparing this to Gremlins 2, even though I actually felt this threw in a lot of vibes of other divisive/hated “Part 2’s” (mainly Back to the Future II, Blair Witch 2, and Exorcist II). It’s just light and fun and doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously, which is the perfect antidote after watching the deadly morose sequels that took themselves way too seriously despite having nothing of coherence to say. I’ll take the good guys high-fiving a cuddly robot that joined their side and Chad Stahelski as “Chad” over another laborious fetch-quest speech any day.

    Re: Bugs, I agree Henwick is great (I mean, she’s instantly more likable in her first 2 minutes onscreen than any of the new characters introduced in Reloaded or Revolutions, right?). But yeah, she does weirdly get sidelined as the movie goes on – it’s like having Rey disappear in the last 45 minutes of TFA and having Han and Leia take over the movie. (I mean I know she gets some weird hero moment where she gets plugged into Trinity’s pod or something but I honestly have no idea what the hell was happening at that point). Same with Nu Morpheus – after an intriguing start where I guess Wachowski is trying to say something about the parallels between him and Agent Smith, he just becomes FAMILY MEMBER #25 in a Fast & Furious movie, using his vaguely defined special skills to help them pull off another vaguely defined heist sequence. Again, Wachowski could be saying something about the state of franchise filmmaking but I have no real idea what it is and don’t really mind for some reason.

  19. I don’t like being negative but I hated everything about this movie. I hated the action, I hated the reliance on clips from the original, I hated the recasting of Morpheus and Smith rather than just making them different characters if the actors weren’t available, I hated the way they claimed that the footage of the first movie was from the game when games don’t look like that (and definitely didn’t in 1999 when the game came out according to the award on Neo’s desk), and most of all I hated the terrible Rage cover at the end.

    I am happy for and maybe a little jealous of the people who enjoyed this but for me it unfortunately didn’t work at all.

  20. This a really great, thoughtful review. Very nicely done.

    For me, this is a movie that maybe I respected but didn’t like. I approve of making the Neo/Trinity love story the focus, but the action being this bad is not something I can get over. I rewatched the original trilogy before this one, which was good because this movie is so chockablock with callbacks and references, but also bad because the action in this one compares so unfavourably to movies that came out in 1999 and 2003. Even the much-maligned Revolutions had the attack on Zion. There’s nothing in this that even comes close to comparing.

    I learned from this review that it’s so bad because Lana Wachowski no longer feels like she needs to be so in control, which is great for her personally, but bad for this movie. I saw Vern retweet some behind the scenes footage of Jessica Henwick training (I copy/pasted the tweet here, so I guess it’ll be attached to this post) that was more entertaining than any fight that made it to the finished product.

  21. Really enjoyed the review Vern! You do a great job of articulating your point of view.

    As for the movie itself, I must confess that I haven’t seen it. I only saw the original ‘Matrix’ once when I was a lot younger, and I remember being largely indifferent to it. I’ve been thinking that I’m due for a rewatch, along with all three of the sequels (never saw ‘Reloaded’ or ‘Revolutions’).

    I certainly sympathize with Mr. Majestyk’s opinion that it’s more important for a movie to work as a text rather than a polemical that validates your beliefs. At the same time though, I understand Mr. Subtlety’s point of view, as there are films that I myself recognize as flawed that I nonetheless enjoy because they fulfill some desire of mine in spite of that. At the end of the day, you like what you like, and nobody and nothing can take that away from you.

  22. I’m disappointed by the binary thinking I’m seeing in the comments here.

  23. Maciek – Interesting perspective. As a heterosexual male I did automatically have a binary response to some of the thematics. Neo and Trinity together being the one essentially is masculine and feminine energy together can accomplish anything. However beyond that my bigger takeaway was masculine, feminine and uncategorized or unquantified energy (ie: AI programs and machines) all has it’s place in the greater scheme of things and together can achieve wonders. It puts such a nice bow on Neo’s sacrifice in the context of the series’ narrative too that it never felt misplaced. Matter of fact in times like these it seems like some of the most honest shit I’ve seen in big budget movie making in quite some time. If most people who are quickly turning their backs on this thing would at least get that out of it then it would have done quite a lot.

    neal – The way I saw it blue-haired girl had similar synapse readings to Trinity. So she could be used to hack the system by tricking it into thinking Trinity had not been disconnected from the matrix in anyway. Think of Sati during that sequence as the generic eyeglass wearing geek keying away in front of a monitor when a heist or crazy mission is being executed in any other movie or TV show.

    Dtroyt – The video game thing was a sour point for me too. It probably would’ve been too Joe Dante of it and it already was GREMLINS 2 and even MATINEE enough up to that point but I think I would’ve swallowed the obvious go to of it was a movie series and Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss and Larry Fishburne etc. within The Matrix itself are all actors superficially coded after Team Nebuchadnezzar itself. It probably would’ve gotten more eye rolls but at the same time would’ve seem more sensible. Not a big deal overall but it was a bit ludicrous to digest at first because of the blatant use of the film clips.

    Vern my man this was the only review of this movie I planned on reading. It was well worth the wait. Some of your most poignant writing yet which is saying a lot because you’ve come such a long way as a writer I still don’t get how so many of these other bozos have been elevated to a position I always felt you should be viewed in but I digress.

    I haven’t watched the original Matrix in it’s entirety for roughly about 15 years now. Haven’t watched the sequels in their entirety even longer since it’s been since they were still at the cinema. This was the first Matrix I didn’t catch in theaters but it actually highlighted just how much those movies did resonate in the long run with me. I think I took for granted how they were so crucial to my coming of age where I was developing my philosophical viewpoints beyond anything they were before while still loving to see a great gunfight or ass kicking portrayed masterfully on screen. I think like Vern I was just so happy to see that none of what came before felt inconsequential. It gave this thing a lot of weight. Even GHOSTBUSTERS IN THE AFTERLIFE which in certain ways did a lot of the callbacks the wrong way but I still enjoyed rolled with that tired “everything after the original didn’t really leave a mark” vibe to it which was off putting especially because poor GHOSTBUSTERS II deserved better acknowledgement than that.

    Not RESSURECTIONS. It goes “So you hated MATRIX REVOLUTIONS huh? well that’s nice but it’s still the final word on Neo and Trinity’s original mission and led to all this.” that took balls in an era of “lets retcon the sequels some people on the internet hated” or whatever. Like even my favorite franchise ever (Rocky) kinda went “we’re sorry for ROCKY V” 3 different times while still not necessarily burying it like a lot of these other legacy movies do with certain entries (Ie: HALLOWEEN KILLS). Lana doubled down on REVOLUTIONS not being inconsequential and this being an evolution of it and to me those were the greatest points of the movie to me.

    It was fascinating to me that since Neo’s revolution the machines and AI in general became more human than the humans themselves. Zion’s fate in the end is that their programming was as robotic of that of the machines they were warring with. At the same time because they’re more human there are still machines out there with a stubborn streak and selfish need for control like the worst in human beings. Creations never fall far from their creator after all.

    It makes sense too when you consider what kind of system these people were red pilled away from. It was designed by an architect so it was sterile and industrial. It required logic and awareness to escape. The Matrix Sati created at the end of REVOLUTIONS functioned differently. It was created out of love (for her parents) and admiration (of Neo) two very palpable emotions. So it took emotional resonance to escape it. Which is also why it was easy for it to be curated and exploited by a program designed to understand human emotion. A more analytical but not necessarily logical frame. Just like the ever famous analytics and algorithms that drive pretty much everything in technology today. So I don’t take Doogie Howser Ph.D as a condemnation of therapy at all. Just as a logical ruse for something that relies on emotional manipulation to use as a vessel since after all therapists who are indeed very crucial to society are basically emotional doctors. Easy way too dig into minds and do as you please with them in the wrong hands. I think it’s just as simple as that and not really something deeper. I don’t see Lana as someone who will necessarily condemn psychiatry based on interviews I’ve seen with her anyway. But I’ve been wrong before.

    Majestyk is on the money that even though blue-haired girl is the MVP there is not much meat to the bone and she comes off more golden cause the rest of her squad is just generic trash outside of operator guy and the pet machines (Cybebe was awesome). I think for me though since I never watched anything with her in it she just resonated even more. I discovered the actress for the first time through this since I don’t watch Neftlix like that and never watched the Marvel shows. It was the girl I saw this movie with that even told me what else she’s done. I would’ve thought this was her first time in anything ever and that Lana discovered a new star.

    With that said I appreciated how she was so Morpheus-like with the amount of faith she has but not to the point of becoming some kind of zealot like he realistically did. I got that from her the moment she hugged Morpheus-Bot like she found a long sought after kindred spirit. She was a soldier of belief and heart and she’s a great addition to the franchise lore if you ask me. Like Vern I feel the truth is somewhere halfway between her initial beliefs and Niobe’s.

    It’s crazy to me how tethered we have become to technology. Like even though I related a lot to Anderson being the only one in the elevator without a screen in his face because that’s me out in public pretty much every time I’m still never fully unplugged. Cause even in those cases I have earbuds on blaring 36 Chambers for the umpteenth time. Even as I type this I’m listening to some score for a short film composed by The Alchemist. It’s about 16 min long and at this point I’m already halfway through it. But why am I not just typing this in complete silence? music gives me comfort that’s why.

    It’s interesting that a Matrix created at the end of the trilogy to be more kind to the plugged in has become their crutch. Cypher would’ve loved it because ignorance truly is bliss. The movie didn’t go into it but I’d like to think that in this matrix a lot of folks chose to stay blue pilled. It seems no different than those people that go “I hate twitter, instagram” or whatever and you go “ok so why don’t you just quit (unplug)?” and they go “well it’s how I stay in touch with everyone and I have an old profile I’d erase a lot of memories” and bla bla bla anything but “because I’m hooked and find it comfy as hell” which is what I always say regarding music. Would be nice to get some Animatrix story about that some day or even about the machine civil war or how the beacon of choice from the old system accepted the eventuality of being purged. This movie is very raw cyberpunk in the sense that a lot of the questions it raises or influences in themselves would be pretty interesting concepts.

    Another thing I think really hit home was the bots. What a malicious but realistic concept. The same type of software I feel operates the husks that we call Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg made it it’s business to hack into people’s lives whenever it sees fit for it’s own sick agenda. Same way social media algorithms drive people to disown family members, or start hating others or even commit suicide. I was not expecting something so dark in this movie to be honest but Lana really went there. Literal suicide bombs pushed beyond their will through programing (be it conditioning through fascist terroristic ideals or societal pressures targeted through the ads, videos and pictures they consume and engage with) I definitely let out an appropriate “whoa” at that. Especially since I was watching this with someone who survived a suicide attempt. It was like the first thing she brought up after the movie ended. This is what sci-fi used to do. It was raw and provocative if need be but something that would always inspire us to engage in convo.

    I think the biggest strongpoint is the worldbuilding and furthering of the lore. Inevitability is still a key facet but so is adaptation and recreation. That is so simple in it’s earnestness I can see why Mr. Subtlety states there’s an element of kindness and sincerity in the thing. This movie and DUNE (which I wasn’t overtly crazy about either but still appreciated) just make me want for more big budget sci-fi. It really makes me miss that and I’m sick of people going “well there’s BLACK MIRROR and THE EXPANSE” and so on as if one was never that good to begin with and the other fell off almost as fast as it became red hot. It’s just bizarre to me that the only place for me to go for interesting sci-fi I still engage with is TV only and not TV PLUS big budget movies anymore. Especially when one of said shows is ran by the Family Guy dude. Truly weird times we live in in that regard.

    So yes new Agent Smith is a complete disgrace and they should’ve rewritten shit after Hugo was too busy to play or say fuck it and reunite Keanu with Samara Weaving for shits and giggles and give us her Smith or anything else. The very end was kinda stupid as shit to me and unnecessary. I didn’t want to see The Analyst again or Trinity and Neo playing the bullying hacker types you’d find in an online video game server. The moment Neo and Trinity face each other in the real world was a great pay off to all the build up and would’ve been a great end cap to their story. Would’ve made this quite a good coda to the trilogy actually. The action is borderling atrocious and kind of offensive when you realize they had Chad Stahelski on set a couple of days. I agree that the Wake Up cover is ho hum and the most cringe inducing callback since it seemed very misplaced since this was not that was really inviting the freeing of minds. An orchestral score would’ve been more apropos and yes it kind of sucks that the most forgettable ensemble in franchise history is the one that survives fully unscathed while the charismatic team original movie was so quickly dismantled be it through actual on screen death or off screen shenanigans. At the same time maybe it’s just a reflection at how much more adept the freedom fighters side is since Neo’s game changing sacrifice. He made a better world in a lot of ways I suppose.

    What I’m trying to say is this. I see the bad in this movie clear as day but I also recognize a whole world of good. It definitely is not the MATRIX 4 any of us or anybody outside this community except Lana herself would make. But goddammit that’s what I enjoyed the most. I admire the fact that even though well constructed action is a series staple she said “fuck a second unit” and went with her impulse and just freestyled it herself because she was in the moment instead of focusing on executing some well laid plan. Mind you it wasn’t like a Snoop Dogg Tha Shiznit situation it was more like one of those freestyles you hear on the radio shows where it’s a lot of “yoo, yoo, yeah” more than something more enriching flowing through the stream of consciousness but I respect it because it upholds one of the core principles of our community here. It wasn’t striving for excellence sure but it was the full raw expression of a true filmatist’s voice and that to me is never a bad thing either.

    This movie actually inspired me to marathon the entire series someday. Which would also mean finally watching THE ANIMATRIX since I still have not after all these years and I look forward to living till that day. Until then I’m glad we got this because even though it’s a bit of a mess it’s also a bit of a refresher. It isn’t the most pleasant surprise I had all year. That was still MALIGNANT but I’m glad this shit exists. So much so that if when Discovery and Warnermedia merge next year and decide on all kind of craziness like even bringing Zack Snyder more DC films and they want more Matrix I wouldn’t be mad if Lana gets to make some Animatrix shit for HBO MAX and hopefully she could bring Lilly along for the ride.

  24. Maciek, thank you for sharing all of that (and I’m glad Vern was able to restore it.)

    Neal, Mr. Destiny was my favorite movie ever from 1990 – 1991. Hadn’t thought of that but totally see it now.

  25. I might like this more in like 5-10 years. I know you shouldn’t let these things bother you, but I think it’s a block for me that the “pro” side of this is calling it a masterpiece, if this were being received more moderately, I could maybe get on board with “well the action isn’t good because it’s not the film’s primary concern”. And I know there’s no way the beloved parent company would have greenlit this at the necessary kind of budget if it didn’t have some kind of action (maybe they should have shot this on 16mm like Universal wanted for PROBLEM CHILD 2?), but sorry, it happened, there’s a lot of action and it isn’t very engaging. And even without that, there’s a lot of dull exposition, again, and I guess we just have to accept bad old person makeup as an aesthetic thing one or more Wachowskis are into for some reason.

    I did enjoy the first act quite a bit, but I think WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE has a lot more to say, at least on the subject of media, which I think comments not only on later NOES sequels but also horror, on screen violence and society and the media’s response in general. And the gags here have nowhere near the comic innovation or frankly the craftsmanship of GREMLINS 2. Yes I recycled that comment from the talkback from the first film, but you’ll agree that is thematically appropriate for this movie and my nostalgia for last week.

  26. I also love MR DESTINY (haven’t seen it in about 15 years though). I also liked TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS, the other Jim Belushi vehicle that year that launched(?) Hollywood Pictures. In the UK it was called FILOFAX in cinemas and on VHS.

  27. TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS was the one movie poster I remember seeing at my old mom and pop video store till the day that it closed. That must’ve been some sort of record. I still have never seen it to this day. Yet the first thing that comes to mind when someone brings up lesser Belushi is the image of him surfing above a car like he’s his brother from ANIMAL HOUSE; while cartoon Charles Grodin yells at him like Mr. Wilson from Dennis the Menace. Such a wild and crazy guy.

    MR. DESTINY is the shit though. Hell I even have good memories of RED HEAT and K-9 even if it was no TURNER & HOOCH. Not their fault though. Not everything in this world has room for some Craig T. Nelson unfortunately.

  28. Broddie, I think you’re right — Samara Weaving would have been the only acceptable Agent Smith substitute.

  29. I think I would prefer to just not have Smith in there at all if he wasn’t played by Hugo, but on the other hand it’s hard to imagine him in the role as it ended up on-screen. Geoff makes him such a smarmy douche that it would feel weird coming from someone who wasn’t beautiful and vacant and youthful. Honestly it’s a little confusing that they even kept the part in there at all, considering how little it really amounts to narratively speaking.

  30. Er, Groff.

  31. From the interviews with Jonathon Groff, it sounds like after recasting Lana Wachowski decided that this Smith should be totally different. Seems like she steered him away from making him recognizably Smith in any way outside that one scene where he picks up the gun. I agree with Vern that it would have interesting to see Hugo Weaving play this role exactly, though.

  32. It’s weird that they already did the ‘Smith in a different body’ thing with Bane in Revolutions, with a guy who did a really good job of copying Weaving’s mannerisms, being given the same type of dialogue Smith would have, et al–then they do it again here and completely fail the assignment. Maybe that’s the point, that the new Morpheus and Smith are boring and forgettable compared to the originals, but as has been said elsewhere in this comment section, the subtext doesn’t make up for the text.

    It kinda reminds me of the opening of Blow Out, which Vern has as De Palma saying “Here’s how you scrubs would do this material and now I’m going to one-up you all.” But De Palma knows enough not to spend the whole movie on that gag and he actually delivers on blowing your expectations out of the water. Matrix Resurrections is like a whole movie of John Travolta mixing sound for a crummy slasher.

  33. One aspect to the original THE MATRIX that I’ve really come to appreciate in hindsight, is that I’ve never needed to consult a single addendum or any supplemental material of any kind in order to understand or enjoy that movie.

    At this point I’d pay any amount of money to see a new Wachowski movie made with the same sensibilities that produced BOUND and THE MATRIX. I know it’s a pain in the ass to storyboard and plan out your shots beforehand, but some of us still expect that from a director, especially for an action movie. When your budget is $190 million there is no excuse to make a film as sloppily constructed as THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS, global pandemic or not. They don’t do themselves any favors by including the flashback cuts to THE MATRIX and the first two sequels – they just remind you what a well-shot movie looks like.

    By the way, are there any color grading aficionados among you guys? Could someone explain to me why some colorists feel the need to crank up the contrast to the extreme, especially with the really digital-looking blown-out whites? Digital cameras these days have a really high dynamic range, so all the highlight information is usually saved and the movie doesn’t need to look like that.

  34. I’ll echo disappointment with the action filmmaking, since a part of me was hoping Lana would pull a George Miller/FURY ROAD and pull up her sleeves show these punks *how* you do action. Regardless, I enjoyed the movie since like the rest of that franchise it provides food for thought and isn’t one of the primal kicks of sci-fi is to explore ideas? There is something unsettling about a new Matrix where people define their own realities which comforts (imprisons) them.

    Or it helps that that as a fan, it reminded me why I was intrigued by this world and loved some of those characters in the first place. I do wish Hugo Weaving had come back, if at least just for how he would’ve delivered that moment when Doogie Howser seemingly has won and ole Agent Smith arrives just to piss in his Cheerios.

    (Isn’t it funny how alot of the same critics who continually bitch about too many blockbusters being homogenized/not auteur personalized enough/not commenting or critical of the current world blah blah are the same ones wiping their ass with this movie? Talk about a movie seemingly giving them what they want…)

  35. Broddie- The video game thing bothered me even more than it usual does because I always thought Lana (and her sister) were heavily involved in the making of the actual Matrix video game. So, based on this movie, either that was BS and she had nothing to do with it and doesn’t understand games or she was being willfully ignorant when making this thing. Either way, it annoyed me. I feel like any time filmmakers get games that wrong at this point, it’s kind of disrespectful to the audience. In 2021 (now ‘22 as I write this comment), even people who don’t play games know that 20+ years ago they didn’t look photorealistic. It’s lazy

  36. Greetings, fellow Vernonites. It’s a new year, so I made this remix made out of the theme song to the 1980 Cannon Films slasher New Year’s Evil, as well as some other, much more recognizable spare parts. Don’t ask me who this rapper is or what the hell he’s talking about because I really couldn’t tell you. Happy New Year!

  37. One more try…

    Type Beat [New Year's Evil Remix]

    A remix made out of the theme song to the 1980 Cannon Films slasher New Year's Evil, as well as some other, much more recognizable spare parts.

  38. In fairness with the video game stuff, I don’t know if the film is really presenting its “real world” as our real world; maybe late 90s/early 00s Video Games looking like really expensive late 90s/early 00s films in the “real world” of MATRIX RESURRECTIONS is like the relationship between Robert Prosky and Austin O’Brien in the “real world” of LAST ACTION HERO being charming rather than at least a little odd. And we did have some decent FMV games by 1999 like MARK HAMILL IS WING COMMANDER 4 FOR PLAYSTATION; sure they looked closer to VHS tapes watched through a cheese grater than HD streaming, but that could have been cleaned up in remasters right? Even the cut scenes for ENTER THE MATRIX on PS2 looked somewhat decent.

  39. Happy New Year to you as well, Majestyk (and everyone else). Your remix track is appropriately “would play after the Rage song is over during the credits for either this, or the original Matrix movie.”

    Broddie, that is such a brilliant idea about casting Samara Weaving as this iteration of Smith that it now seems like a big wasted opportunity. If they’d had her push cliched ideas of femininity the way her uncle did with masculinity in the original that would have been both mind-blowing and utterly delightful to watch. I didn’t care for Groff’s performance— I don’t think he understood the character, and would point to the way he screams “Mister Andersiiiiiiiinnnnn!” as a good encapsulation of why— but I will admit that he made some unconventional, and therefore engaging, facial expressions as reactions during his big fight with Neo. Credit where it’s due.

    I also really felt Laurence Fishburne’s absence. He’s 100% as much a part of the original as Moss and Reeves. I’d believe that the new guy is a capable actor in roles that aren’t blank slates, but what we saw here felt like a lot of directionless bluster. Again, it’s nice of Wachowski to stay out of the guy’s way & let him make his own choices, I suppose, but I didn’t feel like I had a sense of who this version of Morpheus was or what he was doing there.

    I was confused by the shitty direction of the action scenes, and even now that I’ve learned Wachowski’s rationale behind the change, I doubt it will help the experience of watching those sequences themselves go down any smoother. Still not disappointed by any means. Mostly, it was an odd surprise. It’s always interesting to see what consequences arise when people who are naturally self-critical ditch that mode in favor of committed self-celebration.

  40. So in the world of the Matrix, Neo is a video game designer whose games are mostly FMV cutscenes?

    Oh, those sick Machine bastards, they turned him into David Cage!!!

  41. I’ll defend the video game thing with this: Remember the first movie when Mouse asks how machines would know what “chicken” tastes like? That’s how I would wave off that thing because IIRC the Matrix movies take place like half a century at least after 1999 or 2199 or WTF ever. If supposed late 90s/early 2000s-era video games in this Matrix are basically photorealistic…well, how would those pod people know any better? Same way with the Green-tint of the Matrix world, how many think twice about it until perhaps they’re unplugged?

  42. The attempts to sort of explain the video game thing all feel like they have more thought put into them than Lana actually put into the video game thing when making the movie. (Which is not meant as a criticism toward those of you trying to explain the game stuff, just a criticism of the movie)

    What I’m saying is that I don’t think there is an actual in-universe reason for video games being the one single thing that the Matrix (the simulation in the movie, not the movies) is anachronistic about or whatever. It was just a really easy, lazy way to write the old movie into the new one. I hate it more every time I think about it.

    The opening scene apparently takes place in a closed off “module” of the game which Bugs hacks into. First of all, I don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about with this closed off module thing. Pretty sure that’s some “enhance” type movie technobabble. Also, why is this module a recreation of the scene from the first movie if there’s already apparently a game of that whole movie? Lastly, why does the module have recast versions of characters if the game is a perfect recreation of the first movie? I could keep going. And, while that stuff would always annoy me a little bit, here it’s kind of a major part of the story’s foundation. So when it doesn’t work (which for me it doesn’t) basically the entire movie falls apart (for me at least).

  43. Yeah, I never had any real idea what the fuck was going on with the module and the Nu-Morpheus or any of that, because every time they started to get into it, somebody would go “Of course! It’s an argle bargle technojargon widget fandango! Duh!” and act like Neo’s whole plan to…I guess grow a new Morpheus to come rescue him (?) was obvious to one and all so they’re not gonna insult your intelligence by explaining it.

  44. Oh right, that part. I guess this is where I realize that I forgot all but the very broadest plot strokes before they get Neo into Io. (Although I didn’t mind the first part of the movie; I was totally on board for Bugs as a new lead— in like a “if Image Comics launched a title called TALES FROM THE MATRIX at some point during the Obama era” type of way, but hey, that’s still on board.) But, yeah, every time they said the word “modal” I began wondering what that is and whether it’s a real thing, and that distracted me enough that I spent 45 minutes sort of mentally debating whether I should attempt to parse what any of the new characters were saying, go get my phone and look up “modal,” or just assume it all boiled down to metatextual justifications for the movie’s existence and go along for the ride.

  45. I’m not understanding the complaints about the original trilogy being represented as video games; it’s a pretty fundamental plot element and not some oversight on the part of the filmmaker! The machines have retconned reality to an extreme degree. Everything in the Analyst’s Matrix has been artificially constructed specifically to trick Neo and Trinity into thinking the events of their previous lifetimes were fictional events that happened to fictional characters who are not them. Neo doesn’t look like Keanu Reeves even except in his own self-image. If they can make Neo look like a totally different guy and believe a completely alternate version of his own life’s history, why wouldn’t they be able to make video games look more high tech?

  46. The video game angle is pretty clearly a convenient device for using footage from the original movies in a diegetic manner. It’s not perfect but after the “screw the subtext, here’s why we made this movie” convo between Neo and nu-Smith I had no trouble simply accepting it as a device.

    I’m much more bothered by Laurence Fishburne’s absence. His statement in an interview that Lana never contacted him at all felt so unlikely to me (even if they didn’t want to cast him… as a courtesy?) that I was certain he’d show up as a well-kept third act surprise. Not so!

  47. I suppose the use of first movie footage worked for me because of that universe’s theme/motiff/rules about deja vu.

    I guess while some folks are more hung up on the video game stuff*, I’m more wondering the Io business where Neo is locked up and clearly some STAR TREK 3 shit going down with our heroes busting out on a rogue mission and Niobe finds out and is “oh well.” It’s dropped as soon as its set-up. I wonder if stuff got cut out that fleshed this out? Some critic made a good point that broadly speaking, MR feels like a speed run of the original trilogy.

    *=But I’m not surprised. We are living in the same era where for all of JURASSIC WORLD’s problems (lazy script, no chemistry between leads, Pratt’s comic charm neutered, etc.) what became a meme symbolizing its problems? The lead woman running around in heels. Or the “nuke the fridge” in INDY IV. And so forth.

  48. The video game stuff is far from the movie’s only problem. But, since more or less the entire plot is built off of it, you’d think they’d maybe take some time to get it at least a little bit right. How did Trinity play the game after meeting Neo in a coffee shop 20 years after it came out? Is it hosted online? It seems like a single player linear narrative, so why bother running servers for it? If it is online, is it actually profitable enough that “parent company Warner Brothers” spends money to keep the servers up 20 years later? If it’s not hosted online how did Bugs break into the “private modules”? There are literally hundreds of unanswered questions raised simply by including this one incredibly stupid device for showing old movie clips. A device which, again, is the framework for kind of the whole movie since it’s not just used for old clips but also as an explanation for what Neo has been doing, how Bugs finds him, why Morpheus is not Lawrence Fishburne, what not-Smith is doing as Neo’s partner and so on. And saying “why couldn’t the Matrix do this?” doesn’t excuse it because the movie itself doesn’t address it. The matrix could also have flying cars or copule make humanity stuck in a prehistoric age without any modern technology at all. But in the text of the film, the matrix is supposed to be the equivalent to our current reality…. Except in gaming technology? Ok.

    And that lazy world building is echoed (in my opinion) by the lazy action scenes, lazy cinematography, even what I considered lazy acting by pretty much the entire cast.

    So the games issues aren’t necessarily the worst issues, but I see them as a sort of encapsulation of how this movie fails because it doesn’t respect it’s audience or even its own internal logic in many ways.

  49. Dtroyt, I think what you’re getting at is my one word review of the movie whenever anyone asked me: “shoddy”

    The craziest thing to me was that WB still gave the film a x-mas release. If any movie screams ‘bumped to mid-January’ it’s this one.

  50. My point is there’s absolutely no technically “solid” explanation for how movie-like clips are actually from a videogame. Trying to fill in any of the details would just have highlighted how it doesn’t really make sense (and god knows the movie has enough exposition). And for me at least it’s sufficiently explained by the fact that Neo is living in a constructed simulation designed to rationalize his memories, just as in parallel it’s a device by the filmmakers to rationalize using clips from the earlier films in more than just flashbacks. In the end, I think the clips were used effectively (in the theater scene) and given everything else the movie has asked us to accept by that point I don’t really care if it took some handwavy stuff to get there.

  51. RRA – They explain that with Freya (who seems to be Niobe’s partner) saying, “Come on, ‘Be. I know how much you hated locking him up. Just like I know there’s a part of you that’s relieved now that he’s gone” and by the fact that her dressing down of everybody is interrupted by her robot friend Kujaku bringing her to meet Satine who convinces her that they do need to rescue Trinity.

  52. I’m glad I’m not a video game guy, because it didn’t occur to me to take it literally that the game means you’re controlling the footage from the movie. It was just a way to show that his life and everything he’d done had been reduced to “something as trivial as a video game” in the Analyst’s re-creation of his reality. But I can see how it could be distracting.

    As to how Bugs could’ve found it if it was not online, the game and “online” only exist inside the Matrix, which is entirely made of code, so I imagine to Bugs, who is in the real world scouring through the code of the Matrix searching for proof that Neo is still alive, there would be no difference. If she can hack into the office bathroom why couldn’t she hack into the computer on his desk?

  53. I had a physics teacher who hated superhero fiction in general because he couldn’t accept the unrealistic physics, but when he besmirched THE MATRIX, a few students pointed out that his complaint didn’t apply here because Neo is essentially using cheat codes in a video game.

    Isn’t a fundamental premise of the matrix that once you know it’s a simulation, you can break the laws of physics within it? This is a film series where characters can fly, dodge bullets, merge into one another’s bodies, create & perceive entire photorealistic realities by manipulating & staring at green text. We have a computer simulation that was created in 1999, but whose glitches are somehow the inspiration for human myths about vampires and werewolves dating back thousands of years.

    Also, remember how in the first film, one of the reasons they’re able to recruit Neo is that he already realizes something is fucked up with reality? The life he’s living doesn’t quite seem real, doesn’t add up. The machines have *never* been in the business of making The Matrix an internally coherent simulation; it just has to seem real enough to enthrall the majority of its inhabitants. You don’t have to accept that video games looked a certain way in 1999 and wonder what sort of server architecture they used, you just have to accept that the machines are gaslighting the everliving shit out of Neo with an entire cosmology of lies about the basic nature of reality.

  54. Oops, the simulation was actually created an indeterminate number of years in the future, but the version we see in the first film *takes place* in 1999. Complicated!

  55. Loved this review, Vern. Loved it a lot more than I loved the movie, which didn’t work for me at all outside of a few isolated moments (much like Keanu’s other years-later sequel, Bill & Ted 3). Lots of explanation without making things any clearer. Every actor rolling a zero on charisma and delivering their lines as flatly as possible. I also did not “get” the point of Nu-Morpheus or Nu-Smith. The bit with people jumping out of the windows as human missiles was cool, though. I mean, bleak. But interesting.

    I knew going in this was considered a polarizing flick, and I assumed I’d end up on the pole with the ones who liked it, but that was not the case. But I assumed that meant something was wrong with me, not the movie. I’m happy searching out the positive takes and discovering what other folks got out of it.

  56. jojo- good call on “shoddy”

    Vern- I’m actually glad you aren’t a video game guy so that your (excellent) review could focus on other aspects of the film. It was such a major distraction for me that it was impossible not to focus on it for most of the movie. I don’t think I would’ve ended up liking the movie anyway, but I might have given it a bit more of a chance.

  57. “I had a physics teacher who hated superhero fiction in general because he couldn’t accept the unrealistic physics”

    Ha, I had a physics and chemistry teacher, who really loved to let us know how unrealistic STAR TREK or X-FILES were, as if that would’ve mattered to any of us and we would suddenly stop watching it.

  58. My middle school Geography teacher was really vocal about his disdain for VOLCANO. Probably fair.

  59. Beyond recasting Smith for the new guy, the whole resolution to his subplot felt pretty underwhelming. If I understood it correctly, the matrix was reset when Neo and Trinity got extracted, and Smith got purged when the new Matrix came online offscreen, and it doesn’t even merit further mention. Ignoble and unsatisfying end for such an iconic villain.

    The computer game thing didn’t really bother me. It’s like when we couldn’t believe how realistic the graphics where on the first call of duty, or Medal of Honor or whatever – “it looks exactly like Saving Private Ryan!” and now you look at them and, well, they don’t look anywhere near photorealistic. I mean, not saying it didn’t cause a bit of dissonance, but it wasn’t enough to bother me like the whole Modal thing, which was extremely handwavy.

    I liked the movie overall once I got over my disappointment at how bad the filmmaking was. Loved how they progressed the story of future humanity vs. machines, loved the new robot (sorry, synthient. Ugh.) designs, and the people jumping out of buildings as bombs were fun as hell.
    And it felt sincere, and had a lot of warmth towards its characters. So even if the script felt like it had a few too many rewrites and not enough sanity checks or polish, despite the horrible oldface makeup and the shoddy action, it kind of won me over enough that I’ll go to bat for it. But not enough that I’ll proselytise; movie’s got issues.

  60. As someone that’s way way way too into video games, all the video game stuff made perfect sense to me

    How did trinity play it 20 years after it came out?
    If we’re assuming only real world rules and not like the matrix making it so, it’s not that hard to get a hold of 20 yearold games. They’re on Steam, or GOG. If the game is as big as they say they are they’ve probbably had a tonne of re-releases/ remasters etc. One of the most popular games of last year was a remake of a game from 2009

    If it’s a single player linear game why would they run servers for it?
    Lots of single player linear games still have servers running for them. Look at Assassins Creed or something, there are tonnes of servers running hosting DLC, the regular events, all the photo sharing stuff etc. More so if WB have their own launcher and cloud saves etc

    If it’s an online game could it be profitable enough to continue running servers for it?
    There are online games older than that you can go play now. Runescape is 21 this year. World of Warcraft is like 18 this year or something.

    As for how the movie like clips are from a video game? There’s like 40 minutes of original film footage following Niobe in the actual Matrix game we got, assuming tech in hte matrix isn’t advanced enough to have photo real video games (Although the begining modul kinda hints that they are) then they’re just showing clips from cutscenes.

    The one thing I really didn’t get though, so they kept Neo and Trinity alive cause their ‘the one’ love power kept the matrix powered.
    Cool I’m down for that.
    Why did they keep Smith alive?

  61. Also, “Tif” has teenage doofus sons and has heard of the game, so it doesn’t seem like a stretch that she could ask them how to get it.

  62. Crushinator Jones

    January 4th, 2022 at 8:01 am

    Count me as somebody who thought it fell flat (no pun intended with that ending action sequence). It looked like a television show which, surprise! Turns out it was shot like a television show. The action was dull and incoherent. It’s interesting that Vern felt that this wasn’t like Force Awakens, because when Jada Pinkett-Smith appeared she felt exactly like Maz Kanata. I don’t hate this movie or thing it’s a disaster or any of that other bombast but this movie felt very limp and sad. As a member of that generation myself, Gen X seems like it’s ultimately going to end up sitting around lamenting wasted opportunity and that’s exactly what this movie felt like. Didn’t we almost have it all?

  63. Just back from seeing this.
    I wasn’t sure how I felt about it but, after reading this again, really feel like I appreciate the movie a lot more.
    Thanks, Vern!

  64. Really wish the action scenes were clearer, though.

  65. Re: the “photorealistic” video game footage.
    I feel like everyone has missed the point that the movie isn’t pretending that videogames in 1999 looked like this.
    It’s saying that videogames inside The Matrix (a thing that isn’t real) looked like this.
    It’s also a neat way to confuse Thomas Anderson into making him think his photorealistic ‘memories’/ flashbacks all came from a game he made 20 years ago, as opposed to some cool shit that really happened.

    Isn’t it cool that this mildly disappointing movie has generated so much feeling, opinion and discussion? That’s surely a wonderful thing.

  66. You really swung for the parking lot on this one Vern and it completely landed.

  67. Following on from what was most assuredly the most important discussion point in this thread, I watched MR DESTINY for the first time in over 15 years. 1) It holds up, 2) Linda Hamilton’s character in the film is named Ellen Ripley! Also interesting to remember Courtney Cox is in it, quite a way further down the billing than she was in MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE a few years earlier.

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