I took my brother to see The Matrix Resurrections in IMAX — it’s his favorite franchise of all time, yes even Reloaded and Revolutions — he has a singular belief in the franchise like Morpheus did of Neo that he was “The One.” While we got in many arguments on this over the years, I will always respect anyone that loves a movie series so much that they are seemingly wiling to die for it 😂
For me, I loved the first one very much. I remember taking my team at the time to see it in the Whampoa cinema in Hong Kong back in 1999 and still remember everyone’s excitement coming out after seeing it and then everyone following the news of what the sequels might be about.
I will say, seeing the sequels again in preparation for the 4th film, they are not as bad as when I first saw them. They have aged well and the amount of times I have been let down by sequels since (Star Wars, Star Trek etc al) these ones still had its original creators/stars and the unfathaombable bar of the first film to overcome.
I was in LA the first week of December and was able to catch the first and only IMAX screening of the first film in a packed cinema in Hollywood. The excitement and love for that one was incredible to experience. But even watching the movie again for the 100th time, it did seem more like a tech demo than a movie. The storyline was very simple but each piece of exposition punched you in the face. It didn’t actually tell you anything in finality, but as Morpheus tells Neo: “I can only show you the door, you’re the one that has to walk through it.” It’s lines like this that The Wachowski’s made me love this first movie, but decided not to include in the same way for the sequels.
So going into the 4th film, I was actually excited.
It was like seeing old friends again — all the cast (except Lawrence Fishburne for some reason who I still think could have returned so it must have been a contract/budget thing) were back, in great shape, looking somewhat ageless, and that first trailer with the White Rabbit song remixed into the Matrix score brought back more chills than even seeing Alfred Molina say “Hello Peter.” I’ve never watched a trailer so many times.
My brother thought it was impossible to continue the original trilogy, and in all instances since, he would be right. It was missing one of the key actors and only one of the two directors came back and had also transitioned in the time since. What kind of movie would this be? Just a cash grab? A test to see if audiences wanted a new trilogy? A TV series? Just another “member berry” film? How much money did it take to convince them to come back and potentially ruin the memory of the originals? Oh, they had already done that right? Lol so actually there may have been less to lose to “go back to where it all started. Back to The Matrix.” That line in the trailer was the perfect marketing slogan.
So your experience watching this movie will vary based on how much you enjoyed the original film — there are TWO TYPES of Matrix fans: Those that remember the movie for the kung-fu and the Bullet Time SFX and the second group that loved it for the messages of choice aka “The Red Pill vs The Blue Pill.” I thought it was a package deal until I saw this 4th film and realized that my favorite scene was not the Bullet Time shot when Neo bends backwards as bullets whiz by him, its not the slow-motion kung fu, it’s not even the legendary “DODGE THIS!” line by Trinity — it really is the scene when Neo meets Morpheus for the first time and offers him the choice to go back to his regular life or to see how far the rabbit hole goes. If that was your favorite scene then you will love The Matrix Resurrections — if you are looking for more groundbreaking SFX — aka the disappointment in Apple not releasing a new iPhone type product every year — that is not here.
(Kind of spoilery from here on…)
What is here is 3 movies in one:
The surface movie you are watching is the continuation of the Matrix story as it ended in The Matrix Revolutions — one of the most hated sequels ever because of the way it ended. Spoilers if you haven’t seen it yet but the 2 leads die and that’s it. It is truly the continuation of the original trilogy and the story explains how everyone is alive and what is going on inside The Matrix and the Real World.
The second level is a meta commentary on the world of entertainment today. In the film The Matrix was a video game and Keanu Reeves who was the lead developer on that is being asked to make a new game by Warner Bros. if you watch the movie thinking that it is Lana Wachowski’s take on sequels and bringing this franchise back it takes on a whole new more cynical meaning. One of the characters actually says “You are more interested in making fruit than freeing minds” — I mean it doesn’t get more obvious than that. This movie hits you very hard when you think about how nothing has really changed since the first Matrix — we are more than happy to take the Blue Pill.
The third way is you can take it as one of identity — and maybe in this case its about the Wachowski Brothers becoming Sisters. I don’t know much about that process but you can apply it to any type of identity. Neo and Trinity are not 2 people but two halves of a whole and finding that side of yourself can change the way you see everything because at the end they are still in The Matrix its just now under their control.
There’s probably even more ways to view this movie that I will discover watching it again.
I wouldn’t write all this is if I didn’t think this movie was fantastic, I wouldn’t write a review like this for any other movie this year except for my other favorite movie of 2021; Evangelion 3.0+1.0: Thrice Upon a Time — because it made me think so much and I watched it twice already.
I leave you with this video interview with the Wachowski’s done around the time of Jupiter Ascending — it shed a lot of light on where their thoughts were when making The Matrix and has given me a massive new appreciation of their work that I once turned my nose up at. (If you just want to hear their talk about The Matrix skip to 32:10)
And yes, the most important review of all is that my brother loved The Matrix Resurrections. A worthy 4th film to the series. But now he won’t sell me his Matrix action figures.