Published on January 19th, 2022 | by Kim Kurtenbach0
The Matrix Resurrections
Deja vu. Kim shares the two nightmares he had in the same week and warns everyone to avoid his experience at all costs.
I had a crazy dream last week, if that’s what it can be called. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced sleep paralysis, but it’s essentially when you feel like you’re awake but can’t move. Even though you’re desperately trying to twitch a foot or open your eyes, eventually you just have to give up. I only mention it because that strange, uncomfortable sensation of not being able to pull myself to the surface of sleep felt terribly similar to watching The Matrix Resurrections (2021). I wanted to stop watching, but I couldn’t. Shamefully, I watched the whole thing and didn’t understand any of it.
Neo is back to being Thomas A. Anderson and working at a video game company. The Matrix wasn’t real, it was just a game he designed. Or was it? He’s in therapy and on heavy medication, but it’s barely holding him together. A woman at the coffee shop Anderson frequents named Tiffany looks just like Trinity. That’s because she is Trinity, but doesn’t remember. Morpheus is back, but not Lawrence Fishburne, because the character is now played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (The Get Down, 2016). Agent Smith also returns, but not Hugo Weaving because Smith is now played by Jonathan Groff (Mindhunter, 2017). I know what you’re going to ask – why did they do that? Because stuff, that’s why. Suffice to say, I wish Craig Silliphant had chosen to write this article so I could have the hot mess of a $190-million-dollar movie that is Resurrections explained to me. But Craig The Movie Geek is busy with other projects and doesn’t have time for this malarkey.
So how exactly did I get suckered into watching a 4th Matrix? The pattern has clearly been that each instalment is worse than the last. I suppose it’s simply because the first movie was so damn thrilling and groundbreaking that I keep hoping for a return to that level of mind-bending, creative craft and storytelling.
When The Matrix hit theatres in 1999, it made serious waves in the movie world. The only non-PG or G rated movie to do better box office numbers that year was The Sixth Sense, and that’s saying something. The Matrix put asses in seats, made huge profit margins, showcased the individual talents of already great actors in a formidable ensemble cast, and won four Academy Awards. It took the sound in movies to new heights, made gun-play and sunglasses cooler than they had been since Chow Yun-Fat, highlighted a soundtrack with new-to-the-zeitgeist rave/electronic music, put kung-fu in science fiction and left us panting for a sequel. But then the sequels came, and yeesh! those were hard to watch. I’ve always said that The Matrix made me want to see sequels, but the sequels made me wish I had never seen the first one. It’s a real red pill/blue pill kind of situation.
The original Matrix kicked around Hollywood for a while before it took the shape that we now know. The Wachowskis revised or presented the script for over five years, with an early pitch proposing Will Smith as Neo and Sean Connery as Morpheus. It was man vs machine in a fight for the domination of reality and, ironically, the release of the movie coincided with the sudden surge in big screen televisions, home theatre surround sound and DVD players. The lobby shoot-out in The Matrix became a box store staple to demonstrate the abilities of these amazing new machines in our homes, but we didn’t even notice that contradiction of ideas at the time: humans building more and more machines to help entertain us with stories about the dangers of machines taking over humanity. We probably failed to notice simply because Carrie-Anne Moss looked absolutely bitchin’ in that black leather ass-kicking onesie. And yeah, it was awesome! It was Alice In Wonderland meets John Woo meets Fist of Legend (1994). Neo freed our minds and started to unite the human resistance against our mechanical over-lords. No more fake digital steaks for us, the humans were free in the new world of Zion!
And then, in 2003, we got a look at what that really meant when the two sequels, Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions hit theatres in May and November of that year. That’s when we got welcomed to Zion, the sweaty sex-cave that thousands of humans decided to inhabit near the earth’s core. They pounded home-made drums and, presumably, each other. Everyone was sexy, even though they didn’t have deodorant or tooth brushes.
In the third instalment, efforts to take back the earth were re-doubled, but I had one major problem with that: why? Did you get a look around the place? It seemed the entire planet was covered in greasy, killer machine tentacles and the sky was filthy with pollution and lightening. So where, exactly, was everyone planning to live? Not once – not once! – did they show a white-sand beach, or rolling hills of green, or puppies and kittens, or any of the things that would entice us to even want the earth back. Shit, most of us wouldn’t even live in Detroit or Winnipeg, but the machine earth of these movies was objectively worse. So, yeah, put me back in my sleep pod until you grow some fruit trees. I really have no idea what they were even eating, but I’ll bet it was gross.
As the sequels rolled out the fights got bigger, but not better. The sound got louder, the FX more overwhelming, the plot-points more convoluted. All those spinning plates began to fall. Reloaded wasn’t as terrible as I remember, once they got past the Star Wars trade federation political rhetoric and got to the freeway chase. That was pretty cool. But Revolutions just got worse and worse as it went along. At one point, remembering almost nothing from the first time I saw it 18 years ago, I surmised the movie must be nearly over, only to pause it and see that there was still over an hour to go! It all came to a low-point when the great battle to protect Zion raged on and, spoiler alert, someone has to open a door to save the day. But the only person who could open the door is a teenage boy. They draw out a long conversation during the battle about how he would love to help, to open the door, but he “never finished the training program”. Well, shit. Without proper training, who on earth could open a door?
Eighteen years later Resurrections came around and, once again, fans were filled with the temporary and fleeting hope that something good would happen with all this story potential. It didn’t. The humans of Zion have new technology which demands a heap of unnecessary special effects. They slow some film down while speeding other parts up, they use CGI and try to explain how it all works with big, technical words and super-meta theories. Jada Pinkett Smith also returns, but wears make-up to make her look 100 years old, while Keanu and Carrie-Anne both look like they could still attend their 15-year high-school reunion. And there are lots of new faces in Resurrections too, but almost none of them amount to characters of value. They just fill space, much like the movie itself. Even Neil Patrick Harris, whom I love, is out of place here, and the genre addition of a zombie hoard was an uninspired attempt at an idea that tired itself out long ago. By the end of Resurrections, it gets down right Michael Bay. And not the good kind of Michael Bay, like The Rock (1996) but the bad kind of Michael Bay, like everything else he ever directed. I site as People’s Exhibit A, the final helicopter shots. Nice try, everyone.
In conclusion, this movie sucks. Watching it feels like sleep paralysis, being trapped between sleep and consciousness, just like Neo in the original Matrix, back when any of us cared about what happens next in the story. If you loved the original Matrix, I beg of you – stay right where you are. Do not engage any of these sequels. Pretend they never happened. Do not watch or re-watch them (no matter how long it has been – they don’t age any better with time, folks) and skip right over to the vastly superior John Wick movies if you’re really craving more Keanu. Here at The Feedback Society, we don’t “rate” movies on any kind of scale, but I think The Matrix Resurrections deserves to be the first. So, 2/10. One point because I’m sentimental about the original Matrix, and one point because I like the cat. Remember the black cat? Best part of the movie, and that isn’t saying much.