I’d like to open this film review with a quote from one of the best science fiction authors of the 20th century, Philip K. Dick: “We are living in a computer-programmed reality, and the only clue we have to it is when some variable is changed, and some alteration in reality occurs. We have the overwhelming impression that we were reliving the present – deja vu.”
Many people said the man had lost his marbles around the time he was doing all kinds of illegal substances with a bunch of hippies in his home, as well as abusing pharmaceuticals. Be that as it may, the idea he proposed in that particular quote while making a speech at a science fiction convention in France inspired one of the coolest action films at the turn of the 20th century: The Matrix.
The build up on the internet before the fourth entry to the Matrix franchise, The Matrix Resurrections premiered in theaters and on HBO Max reminded me of the reaction to the second film The Matrix Reloaded after it premiered. One could say I was experiencing a bit of… deja vu. The reactions from critics have been good to mixed, and the bulk of audiences at the moment, the ones with the loudest voices on social media are basically bashing it. But it’s not all bad, because there are fans like me who knew from the moment we heard there was going to be a fourth film that we were not going to get what we expected at all. Especially since filmmaker Lana Wachowski was directing it on her own for the first time without her sister Lilly. It was interesting to see Lana’s own singular vision take shape on screen.
One of the things that may be considered heavy-handed with the film is all the nostalgic moments projected onscreen. From reimagined renditions of classic moments in the first movie, to downright archival footage used as flashbacks from all three of the previous films. This is obviously seen as a fault for some viewers, being that it’s basically not needed in a certain kind of context: that context being we, the viewer have already seen and experienced those films. So why should we see them again? The audience must remember that Neo and Trinity, as well as the younger version of Morpheous (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) are being withheld from remembering their previous lives. The first half of the film is laid out like a psychedelic dream, and things from Neo’s perspective are almost as if he’s experiencing some sort of loop, where he questions his own sanity. He’s in a vulnerable state most of us don’t want to see him in, but we’re forced to.
At times the film does seem a little rushed with its exposition, but manages not to go too fast like the spitfire delivery of Star Wars The Rise of Skywalker — by the end of that film I had a headache. Matrix Resurrections is a bold film. It’s so bold that I don’t think Lana Wachowski even cares how far she’s willing to go breaking the fourth wall at times during the first half of the film. At one point in the movie a character mentions The Matrix video game, and Warner Bros. in the same sentence. It reminded me of Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool — the only difference being that unlike Deadpool, no one winked at the camera. These kind of meta moments in Matrix Resurrections to me did not seem to go too far, because for me it worked due to the executions of Lana Wachowski’s style of telling the story. The first half of the film is a trippy, dreamlike experience unlike the original movie, because it’s doing it’s own thing, no matter what anyone else thinks of it.
One of the highlights in the film I loved seeing realized was the emphasis on the character Trinity and her importance in the story of The Matrix. She’s a hero and a legend in her own right. At the end of the first film, after Neo is killed by Agent Smith in the hallway, Trinity admits her unconditional love for him as he lays braindead in the real world, refusing to believe he died at all, and gives him a kiss which revives him back to life to become “The One” in the matrix. And in The Matrix Reloaded she selflessly risks her life by entering the matrix against Neo’s wishes in order for him to enter “The Source” where he confronts The Architect. So by the end of this film, I’m not surprised at all by what her character becomes: The exact reason “The One” exists. Which is why the main antagonist of this film, The Analyst (played by Neil Patrick Harris) tries to keep them apart in order to maintain control of humans in the matrix for the machines that want to keep it that way.
The new villain The Analyst was an interesting concept included in the world of The Matrix. Not only does this kind of program keep Neo from reawakening, he seems to enjoy being in full control of “The One.” The Analyst not only has more of a personality than his uptight predecessor, The Architect, he seems to understand humans a lot more than any of the other programs, and relishes in that particular fact. Neil Patrick Harris actually does a great job playing Neo’s therapist, because his smile and mannerisms at the beginning of the film obviously hides something more sinister. Like a fake laugh The Analyst takes notes as Neo relays his fears to the bespectacled man. The Analyst has a great line: “Did you know that Hope and Despair share the same code?” I don’t know about anyone else, but I loved that line.
I know The Matrix Resurrections may not be a perfect film, but after I first watched the original twenty years ago, I didn’t think that one was either. The story of The Matrix is dependent on its sequels, and honestly it’s nice Lana Wachowski acted on her own to bring this final chapter to fruition for fans like me who wanted to see if the peace between human and machine could last.
As Philip K. Dick said, “The subject of this speech may not exist at all, therefore I’m free to say anything, or nothing.” The Matrix Resurrections may not be what most moviegoers wanted to exist, but Lana Wachowski made it exist anyway. Take the red pill, or take the blue pill, the choice is but an illusion based on one’s own desire.
I give the film a 4/5.