Saturday, January 8, 2022

The Matrix Resurrections

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is a world-renowned developer famous for his videogame called The Matrix. He is also inexplicably drawn to mother-of-three and Ducati enthusiast Tiffany (Carrie-Anne Moss), whom he regularly stumbles upon at their local café. Things start to get weird when he is approached by a blue-haired gun-wielding woman named Bugs (Jessica Henwick) who reveals to him that he is actually Neo, the ONE responsible for freeing many minds from enslavement in the Matrix. With the help of Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and an unlikely alliance with his business partner Smith (Jonathan Groff), Neo goes down deep into the rabbit hole once again, rediscovering his memories as well as the long history of their war with the machines all the way to his reintroduction into the Matrix through the intervention of The Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris), the mastermind of its current version responsible for the new status quo.

With some of the previous cast members refusing to return such as Laurence Fishbourne and Hugo Weaving, Lana Wachowski makes it a point to employ a plot device to explain the differences in appearance, extending the same mechanism to Neo and Trinity despite being reprised by their original actors. This is convenient and plausible and when believability is close to being questioned, they just bombard you with some IT mumbo jumbo to keep you sidetracked.

You have to give it to Wachowski, though, who has been very open about her reluctnce to create another Matrix sequel. Using Groff’s Smith as a conduit to make her opinion felt about the WB’s commitment to making a follow-up to the trilogy, she is able to voice out her concerns which leads to a delightfully meta take on the whole process. Not only is she able to craft a storyline that will continue the flow of the original trilogy, but she also manages to integrate it with a blunt social commentary on Hollywood’s penchant for capitalizing on nostalgia to sell the films it produces.

Even the corporate brainstorming scenes are a hilarious mockery of the creative process, and there isn’t even any effort to mask the sarcasm, which makes you love the wit of the writers and the directors even more. Even then, this fourth chapter still feels like a rehash of the first film in terms of plot development. You already know what is going to happen because you have already seen this two decades ago, like déjà vu, the only factor keeping you from labeling it as a reboot being the involvement of Reeves and Moss themselves.

Lana Wachowski must be a joy to work with, though. Reeves, Moss, and Pinkett-Smith aside, you also see five Sense8 alums in the cast who are joined by fresh blood, unless Abdul-Mateen II and Henwick have already worked with the director before. It’s good to see the interaction between characters old and new as well as some character development for Pinkett-Smith’s Niobe who has gone far in life since we last saw her in the original trilogy.

Nostalgic as it might be, as playfully alluded to in many scenes as if the film were self-aware, Matrix the franchise is pretty much Matrix the simulation. No matter how many times you kill Neo and Trinity, they can always be revived through the intervention of a character similar to the Analyst. Heck, those two could well be in their 90’s and yet their characters’ storylines could always be rebooted over and over again. Story wise, there is nowhere left to go, so they might as well end it here. As for nostalgia, though... It's something that can always be repeatedly milked for its entertainment value.

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