A truly different movie from its predecessors (but that's actually a good thing)
It’s been decades, if ever, since a post-heyday sequel has dared to do what The Matrix Resurrections has done. Now, I’m not gonna lie and pretend that this is a return to The Matrix which we’ve known and loved–it’s an entirely different beast and it does not pretend to be anything otherwise.
The Matrix journey has been nothing short of bumpy. Following the monster hit that the first one was, redefining film the very same year The Phantom Menace was released, the idea of building a franchise was never going to be easily realised. Even with sensational off-cinema content such as The Animatrix animated anthology, and the Enter the Matrix video game, the sequels themselves weren’t exactly received very well.
Before we go any further, it needs to be made clear that The Matrix Resurrections leans very, very heavily on the initial sequels. This isn’t the case of a revival wherein certain bits or sequels are left behind. Understanding Resurrections requires clear memory of both Reloaded and Revolutions.
If, perhaps, you’re one of the many viewers whose love for The Matrix was hindered by the sequels, or particularly considered The Matrix Revolutions to be too significant a departure from the original, be warned: The Matrix Resurrections may not be your cup of tea. Hell, it may not be tea at all.
Resurrections tackles its return to the universe with little to absolutely no regard for nostalgia, or fan service. Whatever it retains is only done so in service of this one film, and the story within. In many ways, it can be considered the anti-Ghostbusters: Afterlife–an example of a film deftly and successfully employing nostalgia and throwbacks. Resurrections however cuts to the bone of the tale’s objective (‘cause, screw the juicy meat) and takes the audience for a wild ride across a fourth-wall shattering plot, unabashedly commentating on the state of the world, film, and art, all while reviving the mythos of The Matrix franchise, and re-examining the status quo of being the Chosen One.
Further pushing boundaries, Resurrections also shifts the narrative ideologies away from the “chosen one” schtick, instead placing more emphasis and significance on the impact of the characters around Neo.
It’s fantastic and many are going to absolutely hate it.
But if the idea of change, and the risk of new results upon re-exploration, do not offend you, then maybe this is the perfect film to round off your 2021. While it has been no secret in recent times that the original The Matrix films functioned as somewhat of an analogue for creators The Wachowskis’ journey of transition, Resurrections makes it all that more obvious in its narrative, tackling not only their personal journeys but also their professional ones, be they for better or worse.
Although the no-nonsense tone of the film, certainly unique for one that runs an extensive 148 minutes, can be attributed to the incidents prompting the writing of the film by Lana Wachowski (both her parents and her friend passed away within the span of 2019), there is also a certain maturity in the approach to Resurrections which stands out. In some ways, it can be said that Resurrections identifies that the franchise has grown out of the typical blockbuster pastiche, within which many would still perceive the films.
It can also be considered that Resurrections is, in fact, a true sequel–one which sees no necessity in re-treading old plot points for the sake of fan service or celebration, and only prioritises any idea which moves the story and characters forward. And it does so without treating the audience as any less intelligent than the material.
Like The Matrix, Resurrections has in store perception challenging ideas of the world as it is seen, finding ways to re-introduce those very same challenges four movies into the series. Interestingly, like the original, Resurrections also sees fit to conclude without the explicit need to promise a sequel, further sealing its dedication to telling a story instead of simply contributing to a franchise.