The Matrix: Resurrections

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

5/5 (1)

“The Matrix Resurrections” is itself a resurrection of sorts. After the original three “Matrix” movies – “The Matrix” (1999), “The Matrix Reloaded” (2003), and “The Matrix Revolutions” (also 2003) – the Wachowskis (those siblings who created the trilogy) felt the story had been concluded. They vowed there would be no fourth film.

In fact, they suggested that gamers would “inherit the storyline” and the Matrix Online video game was promoted as the official continuation.

For those luddites living in a cave, “The Matrix” storyline is about a guy (Keanu Reeves) who discovers he’s living in an artificial reality called the Matrix which was created by artificial intelligence gone amuck, a way of imprisoning humankind for its own nefarious purpose. Nothing is as it seems.

The Wachowskis are former comic book writers turned filmmakers. When I joined Marvel as publisher, Larry and Andy Wachowski had just finished up their run on issues 3 – 9 of “Ectokid.” Now transwomen, they are known as Lana and Lilly.

Following the commercial success of the “Matrix” films, the Wachowskis wrote and produced “V for Vendetta” (2005), an adaptation of the graphic novel by Alan Moore, and “Speed Racer” (2008), a live-action adaptation of the Japanese anime series. They went on to do “Cloud Atlas,” (2012), “Jupiter Ascending” (2015), and the TV series “Sense8” (2015-2018).

Their movies have delivered over $2.3.billion in box office revenue. The “Matrix” trilogy pulled in about 70% of that.

You can see why the studio wanted to do a fourth film.

But the Wachowskis said no. They felt that the trilogy’s story had concluded.

Lana said she had “no intention of making another ‘Matrix’ film.” Lilly Wachowski called another sequel “a particularly repelling idea …”

Nonetheless, Warner Bros. constantly approached the Wachowskis every year about making another “Matrix” sequel, but they always declined the offers.

Keanu Reeves confirmed that he would be willing to reprise his role of Neo in future installments if the Wachowskis were involved in the film.

Then in August 2019 it was announced that Lana Wachowski would direct a fourth ”Matrix” film.

What changed Lana’s mind – aside from money?

The turning point came after Lana and Lilly’s parents died. Lilly was tied up with a TV project, but Lana saw this as a way of handling her grief.

As she put it, “I couldn’t have my mom and dad … yet suddenly I had Neo and Trinity … Okay, these two people die, and okay, bring these two people back to life, and oh, doesn’t that feel good? Yeah, it did!”

She goes on to explain, “It’s simple … this is what art does and this is what stories do. They comfort us ….”

So in this fourth installment we have the return of Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss) in a story set 20 years in the future from the last film. Neo lives in San Francisco under the name of Thomas A. Anderson unaware of the past. He regularly sees a therapist (Neal Patrick Harris) who prescribes Blue Pills to counteract his flashbacks.

However, one day a new version of Morpheus (this time Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) shows up with a Red Pill to restore his memory of the Matrix. Next thing you know, Neo and Trinity are back in the fight to save humanity.

You will find “The Matrix Resurrections” less a reboot of the franchise than a follow-up to the first film. And a rumination by Lana of what the story is all about.

This will be the final film from Warner Bros. to have a simultaneous release on HBO Max for one month along with the theatrical films. Which means you can see it now either on streaming video or in movie houses.

Be forwarded that critics are having very mixed reactions. They say:

“Smart, funny, weird, self-referential & unexpected.”

“Disappointing.”

“Very good.”

“Absolutely loved every minute of it.”

“Longtime fans will dig this film & the ways it twists the mythology.”

“Too self-aware … poking fun at itself a bit too much.”

“Very heavy on the love story, with not a lot of show-stopping action and effects.”

“More fun than I remember the sequels ever being.”

“Walked out in middle of movie.”

“The story continues from the previous part very well. But some things (many things) don’t make sense.”

Hmm, you might conclude that critics and fans are trapped in their own Matrix, seeing whatever they are programmed to see, each commenting on a different version of reality.

But, as the movie says, there can be but One.

As for me, I enjoyed “The Matrix Resurrections” … and watching Lana Wachowski come to terms with her movie’s legacy.

Email Shirrel: srhoades@aol.com

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