The fourth installment of The Matrix franchise is here, and at the same time it left me frustrated and impressed at its ambition. I’m a glass half full kind of person and that’s what The Matrix: Resurrections is, a glass half full type of film. A film that’s so self-aware and recognizes its own un-originality as a sequel to films that are considered game changing/genre defining (well the first one anyways), it’s also a film that’s got philosophical curiosities, but it never fully engages in its curiosity, so it leaves you half there and very anticlimactic if you ask me.
Before I continue let me just say that The Matrix: Resurrections is not a bad film, its far from bad, it’s a film that’s disjointed and overstuffed with ideas that sometimes land and sometimes don’t but it’s not a bad film. Some fans will go in with certain expectations of a Matrix film and they’re going to be let down, and they have every reason to be upset but…
The film kind of loudly tells you do not expect whatever you were expecting because it all means nothing, sequels that aim to hit the vein of nostalgia are just cash grabs from the corporate overlords. It’s just repetition, new faces, same old story, in the same old algorithm. Nothing of value to add. While some fans will see this as genius and bold, they’ll surely praise the film that dares to subvert the system of sequels and blockbusters.
Lana Wachowski clearly loves this world and the characters, and there are moments where that passion and love can be felt and seen and that’s when I fully engaged, especially when the love story of Neo and Trinity is at the forefront and everything else is just background noise. There's some interesting stuff happening with that, these little emotional undercurrents of past actions that bring up emotions of I don’t know uhm regret? Grief? I don’t know... but that was cool. However, elements about the past also weigh it down (more on that later), and Lana threw in gender exploration here and there in a very Wachowski way, which again is cool but could have been more refined and smoother.
Lana Wachowski’s love for the world is also The Matrix: Resurrections’ downfall, it places the film in an existential crisis, and I just can’t find the words to explain it but the word that comes to mind is “weird” and not in a good way more in like a confused kind of way, am I making sense? Like the film relies on nostalgia but also at the same time it’s trying to say something about said nostalgia like a critique on IP’s and using the past as cash grabs. It’s this very critique that undercuts the wonderful emotional moments and it just becomes “weird” and I’m still not sure if it’s a “weird” that’ll grow on me. Maybe this weird energy stems from the fact that Lana wanted to scrap the film halfway due to the pandemic halting production, so I guess some passion can be lost due to that.
The Matrix: Resurrections also features one of the most basic action sequences since I don’t know think of your favourite MCU film and [insert here] and yeah there you have it. There’s no elegance or spirit to them, they’re lifeless and just flat but I don’t think they were a point of focus for the film. Also, I left the cinema feeling like The Matrix: Resurrections is two films in one, and I kept thinking that they could have been split it into two coherent films.
One film to focus on Neo questioning the nature of his reality while sort of trying to deal with the past and his actions, and the other film focusing Neo in this new world that still pretty much feels same, with just new faces playing the same roles in the same old algorithm thus giving him a tough choice to make about free will.
Or The Matrix: Resurrections could have been more coherent in trying to tell its story without losing the essence of what Lana and co were trying to say. Overall, The Matrix: Resurrections isn’t as meta as it thinks it is, the deeply personal message gets lost within the incoherent structure of the film. Coupled with uninspired action sequences The Matrix: Resurrections loses its way and for some that’s a good thing as they can grab on to the multiple ideas floating around the film and ponder on the philosophy while for others, they just wanted something to remind them of why they started questioning our reality in the first place. Instead, it left them wanting to take the blue pill and forget The Matrix: Resurrections’ existence. For me, however? I want to see where Lana goes with this, because I wasn’t offended and appalled at the film, neither was I satisfied at what I watched but I’m intrigued… need I say... I... I want more? I want my glass filled to the brim next time.