I’m not gonna do as others have done as of late and give you a full postmortem on Lana Wachowski’s The Matrix Resurrections (2021). As I’ve always promised, I try to have something relevant to say about a film whenever I breach the top for a review; having watched this one over the holiday (with the wifey, who indulged me, thank you very much!), I’ll admit to being more than a bit disappointed with it … so much so that I don’t think the film deserves a full review. But I do have a few thoughts.
Now, right up front, I’m going to be as specific as I can when I say I didn’t dislike the film. I think it had a purpose to serve – at least, so far as I’ve followed the scuttlebutt regarding Wachowski’s desire to go back into the well even though he/she and his/her brother/sister have long stated they had nothing else to add to the mythology. As I understand Lana’s change of heart was owed to the passing of her mother, certainly a life-changing event for us all; and this experience served up an epiphany for the storyteller which she thought deserved a creative outlet. Thus, the story behind Resurrections was born. In that respect, a purpose was served.
As for the rest of us?
When all was said and done and the credits rolled, I was more than a bit befuddled. My position on franchise installments is that these features have a bigger task than stand-alones as audiences see them as additional chapters to an ongoing story. Something must be added to the universe. It isn’t enough to, say, merely tell the next day-in-the-life of Neo aka Thomas Anderson (played by star Keanu Reeves); it has to deepen his experiences. It has to put another brick not so much in the wall as it is a part of the foundation to a character that transcends others. After all, Neo’s life became the subject of great philosophical debate: like it or not, he’s been equated as a cinematic Jesus (of sorts) by pundits and pontificators alike … so if you’re going to craft a sequel to his bible then it damn well better have something to say.
Therein lies my problem with Resurrections: ultimately, it cheapens the experience, diluting Neo’s existence – ‘the One’ – to the point wherein he’s only half as important as before – now ‘the Two.’
Sure, love is all around us (as the lyrics go), but love wasn’t missing from the original Matrix trilogy. It was there – front and center – along with a helluva lotta other ideas that challenge us as individuals, how we see and value life, and how we see and value things like culture, class, and society. Neo had a role to serve, and inevitably that led to his personal sacrifice. But in the world of Resurrections …? Well, the trilogy was essentially reduced to nothing more than a game (of sorts), a cultural phenomenon that was used to hoodwink a society back into subservience. The weight of what happened – of what was lost – was wiped from the slate, and now we were starting over … all for the sake of love.
Love stories come and go, and I suppose maybe there’s something benign about recrafting a seminal trilogy away from being an intellectual exercise and (ahem) dumbing it down to one-plus-one-equals-two. There are still interesting talking points one might take away from a single viewing of the new flick; but I dare say this one won’t have the legs to keep people talking about it long enough for the Wachowskis to cash their check. Maybe that sounds like I’m disappointed: I’m really not … I just see very little reason for this film to ever have been made beyond except for the point of being made. Men have climbed mountains for the same reason, and so here we are.
I saw much of the first half of Resurrections as taking swipes at the first three films and even the audience who embraced them. That’s a precarious starting position to develop a relationship that usually grows in the dark – between the shadows and light – but if your desire is to watch a film and then forget about it, this Resurrection’s for you.