“Things have changed, the market’s tough. I’m sure you can understand why our beloved parent company, Warner Bros, has decided to make a sequel to the trilogy.”
“They informed me they’re going to do it with or without us.”
“I thought they couldn’t do that.”
“Oh, they can. And they made it clear they’ll kill our contract if we don’t cooperate.”
If the Matrix has one redeeming quality, it’s this gem of what could be construed as passive-aggressiveness that presumably Lana Wachowski left in the movie. It sounds presumptuous of me to assume this to be the case, but at the same time, I can’t any imagine any other reason for the line to exist as it is. This is just one of many incredibly meta bits that defined the entire first act that doubles up as a bonafide nostalgia trip.
“Where better to bury the truth inside something as ordinary as a video game?”
It’s brilliant that I can just vomit meta lines of dialogue just to sum up a movie.
Long story short: if you are a big fan of the matrix and you never quite got over how Neo and Trinity never walked into the sunset to live out their days in peace, then I guess this is the perfect movie for you.
For the rest of us, however, Resurrections evokes more questions than answers. But if my opinion counted for anything, I was certain that this story arc would fare better as a network series to lead in a new generation of trilogies or whatever stories the studios want to sell. I mean, tell.
The main issue with Resurrections is that the plot summary is probably the actual plotline, and at the same time there are plenty of new characters and new dynamics that now run a world we thought we were familiar with. Granted, the original Matrix didn’t try to world-build but at the time, it didn’t matter. Then, the original Matrix was a simple story that didn’t try too hard to be intelligent, and yet provided breathtaking action, special effects and philosophical musings in the right doses. It satiated the audience’s hunger for visceral action, and left them with just enough information to work out in their own mind post-movie what the Matrix was all about.
Unfortunately, as part of an established institution, Resurrections isn’t afforded such luxury. And the fact that it relies so much on callbacks and metacommentary, deems it a necessity to establish the proper context for its fanbase, which has since evolved into a sect of sorts. Blame the monstrous way in which fans devour content these days if you want for this insatiable need to know every bit of world-building lore, but at least I do give credit to Lana Wachowski for being cognizant of this fact – hence the extremely meta first act.
From the get-go, Resurrections is extremely self-referential and also establishes the fact that the old Matrix is pretty much a core part of the present. It’s almost as if Deadpool received a huge paycheck to play multiple Agents who play all the characters in the first act to spew low-key fourth wall breaking lines, with an extra fifty grand each scene for not looking into the camera while saying them.
All these years later, here’s me, strolling out of a toilet stall.
Tragedy or farce?”
“Why not? Reboots sell.”
To some extent, Resurrections feels like a reboot – or at least it opens that door. While the lines that seem to be directly hinting that Lana Wachowski wasn’t willing to do this film can be construed as a joke, the rest of it seems to suggest that she really means it, though she’s just trying to make the most of it. Or so I think. The result is a treatment that feels a lot closer to the original than the sequels in terms of the mechanics, and unfortunately, you will always be compared to that classic.
“I know you said the story was over for you, but that’s the thing about stories.
They never really end, do they?
We’re still telling the same stories we’ve always told, just with different names, different faces.”
But the problem with revisiting and presumably starting over is that you’re stuck in a no-man’s land of impossible expectations: the effects are nowhere as groundbreaking, the action choreography isn’t anywhere as good (and shot, for that matter), and the payoff for unusually long, plodding setup just didn’t cut it.
“We need a new bullet time.”
In the movie, Thomas Anderson’s software development team tries to sum up the essence of The Matrix as they brainstormed ideas to create a sequel to their own Matrix trilogy video game: a “what the hell is going on” effect, mindless action coupled with “philosophy in shiny tight PVC”, and a “metaphor for capitalist exploitation.”
But if anything, it felt more like they were “so far down the wrong rabbit hole,” as Resurrections never truly felt like any of these. Maybe a diluted version, perhaps.
The thing is, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a threadbare plot. I don’t think that you always have to come up with another iconic moment to remember (would be nice if you could, though). There’s plenty of good in a movie with a simple excuse for a premise but with a lot of heart. But I fear that Resurrections is stretched far too thin trying to live up to expectations with nothing interesting to work with.
What makes or breaks the movie pretty much hinges on what you feel towards Neo and Trinity, and how invested you are in their plight. Everyone else is peripheral. The crew on Mnemosyne are forgettable save for Bugs (Jessica Henwick), but only because she gets more screen time. Even Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mahteen II) and Agent Smith (Jonathan Groff) feel nothing like their original counterparts. They gave a good account of themselves (Groff for the role of Barry Dylan if they ever make live-action Archer, please) but honestly, it’s not their fault they can’t fill the massive boots of Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving.
It’s funny that we get precious little time in acquainting ourselves with this whole new world, and yet the pacing is slow until the last half hour of the movie. I feel like I’m in a loop, foaming at the mouth, repeating that this should have been a Netflix series or something, where you can pace the show like this movie and perhaps spend more time exploring the other characters and what their stakes are in this whole exercise. It makes more sense that way.
“Yet here we are.”
I realise that Resurrections is essentially a love story at heart – Scott Pilgrim vs. the World meets 50 First Dates or something. That and the nostalgia-fest for millennials, of course.
I get the feeling that it really does seem that Wachowski doesn’t have a story to tell; that the joke about having to do the butcher the movie herself rather than have someone else sully its memory doesn’t seem too far off-base. It does help sell the bit about the blue and red pills offering only the illusion of choice. It almost feels like if she had to do a movie, and she tried to give the most beloved characters in the franchise a proper send-off or perhaps set the stage for future episodes.
The reality is that a lot of people will probably be pissed off at how this turned out. The weight of expectations is a hell of a thing to deal with. But at the same time, I don’t think that this movie is as bad as the haters make it out to be. Is it pedestrian? Yes, it is. Was there a need to make a sequel? No, probably not. Nonetheless, I suspect that we’ll look at Resurrections a little more kindly as the years go by. It ain’t good, but it’s not Star Wars trilogy bad.
The Matrix Resurrections
An epic love story for hardcore Neo and Trinity fans. For the rest, you’ll have more fun dissecting the metacomentary and philosophical bits.