Where do I even begin?
Leave it to Lana Wachowski to create the most mind-boggiling blockbuster since Marty McFly’s second trip back to the future.
First off, The Matrix Resurrections doesn’t need to exist. Regardless of how you feel about the previous sequels, Revolutions was a good enough ending for the original trilogy and any attempt to add to the canon was fiercely opposed by everyone involved. Then Warner Bros. said they would make a new movie either way and Lana Wachowski said “get fucked, I’ll do it myself”, and the result is Resurrections. My plan is to eventually do a cinematic retrospective of the entire series where I’ll dig into each movie in detail so for now you’ll just be getting my first impressions. They are…mixed. At best.
I know what most of you want to hear about is that delicious snark, so let’s begin there. Two main aspects of the movie didn’t work for me, or didn’t work fully. First was the reintroduction and adaptation of Morpheus and Agent Smith. Both characters were well-played – in fact, this may be the least wooden movie of the series – but their roles in the story are a mixture of function and call-backs, and that feels like a wasteful reason to bring back two such compelling characters.
But the biggest problem that cannot be glossed over is that the action is terrible. I’m not exaggerating, it’s awful, and not just compared to the original trilogy. There isn’t a single set piece that stands out like the freeway chase in Reloaded, or every action scene from the first movie. The Matrix franchise called the tune of American action cinema well before superheroes and assassins avenging their dogs, but the action in Resurrections feels workmanlike and unclear. It didn’t have to redefine action cinema, but it at least could have provided a passably-decent example of it.
Those are the complaints, and to be perfectly honest, I can live with them. I thought The Matrix Resurrections was fantastic. It fails as an action movie, but that’s not what I was looking for, not at this point in the franchise. As a comment on reboot culture, it’s surprisingly sharp, almost Scream-like in its takedown of modern movie-making, but at its heart, Resurrections is a love story that caught me by surprise. Lana Wachowski has said that she was tempted to make this movie as an excuse to spend time with Neo and Trinity again, and that’s exactly why I adore this movie. Their’s is a mythical romance that you don’t really find in blockbusters anymore, proving that the franchise was about Neo and Trinity together, rather than just Neo himself.
I can’t tell you why, because I don’t know, but I’m willing to overlook Resurrections flaws because the story just got me. Maybe I needed a movie like this – I’ll need to spend more time with it, and I’m looking forward to coming back to it as part of the retrospective – but the fact that I want to means that Resurrections proved to me that it was worth the love, effort, and just a little of the cynicism that went into creating it.
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By Kevin Boyle
(header image via The New Yorker)