It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the original matrix film premiered. At the time, it was groundbreaking for many reasons, both in visuals and the heady concept. Like any good Hollywood franchise, it was milked for everything it could, including 2 sequels. I didn’t hate the sequels but they also didn’t have the same luster and awe that the original had. The question over the years was could they bring that back with just 1 more film? With The Matrix Resurrections, they certainly tried, but the film found itself treading familiar ground at times, and others struggled to break away from that comparison.
So let’s talk familiar ground. The film is more or less a rehash of the original film in many aspects. Trying to break out of the Matrix, negotiate with the machines, and ultimately find his true love. And this isn’t a bad thing per se. The reason the second and third films were so disliked is that they went way too deep into the mythos and lost everyone during the ride. Here the film treads the same steps to get to an end result but if you watch closely things are not as they appear.
This is where Resurrections starts to pull together something different. In various scenes throughout the film, you notice reflections, shadows, images of the people not being who they appear to be. You can very easily take that as an allegory for a lot of things (social commentary from the director, callbacks to the original characters and how they have changed) and so on. But the film takes the meta of the Matrix and puts it on the nose in a direct and no-regrets manner. Talking about The Matrix in order to convince people the Matrix isn’t real. It’s not a new concept for stories that involve information control, virtual reality, or playing with the mind. However, it was an interesting way to start out the film to catch us up to what everyone was doing.
Where the film falls apart is the bridge in the middle trying to tie that first act together which was a fresh take on a familiar story and dive right into the next battle. We lost all sense of fear or danger being in the Matrix or getting out of the Matrix. It comes across as a game and not life or death anymore. That’s a missed opportunity that could have helped that middle piece feel more real. Now, learning that the machines have multiple ‘entities’ to claim ownership for different versions of the Matrix was intriguing. The old one, the Architect, was all about math and numbers. We saw how that went. The new one is all about the human mind, and how a little chaos and illusion of control lead to more productivity (in case you forget, they use humans as batteries). The plot where machines broke free of the larger machine world to join humans with physical forms using machines was pointless. They put little effort into fleshing it out, and it felt out of place for the film. Like a side story quest with no real effect on the larger plot.
To say that The Matrix Resurrections is the best sequel of the franchise is a low bar to be sure, but it’s good enough that it’s worth a watch dive back into the world of the Matrix and finally see Trinity’s story done right.
The Matrix Resurrections is in theatres and on HBO Max Now.