By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
To bring back The Matrix nearly 20 years later with Matrix Resurrections has fans wondering what happened in the meantime? There were two video games (one considered canon) and a spinoff animated anthology. The leads Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss said they’d love to revisit this franchise, and they’ve aged a lot. As for whether that’s important to the Architect (the enemy), it’s hard to say. That leader is gone.
Their feelings for each other is eternal, and is hard to comprehend by a hive mind. There’s no way to describe in code or an algorithm the concept of love. Their synergy is very different from others as apparently, it can help power the simulation.
Elsewhere, Agent Smith (Jonathan Groff) has no further allegiances with the Machines. In this latest film, he is on the sidelines, and is “friends” with Thomas Anderson (Reeves). They work at a video game company. Anderson is turning his escapades as Neo–remembered as a dream–into a successful franchise appropriately called The Matrix, a huge MMORPG. However, the world is as solid as he wants it to be until others, namely Bugs (Jessica Henwick) and Morpheus (now played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) need him back. There’s trouble in paradise, and they need his help to fix their world.
The narrative beats is less crazy than the landmark film. Though we have a few themes trying to make its way back to the discourse, this fourth film feels more like a cowboy western than anything else. Bugs attempts to carry the film, but ultimately, as a viewer, I wanted to see how this film explains Neo and Trinity’s return; they died in the third film. Those machines must’ve worked fast before brain death occurred and I was hoping for a spiritual analysis concerning our favourite couple experiencing a Buddhist rebirth than what was revealed.
Their return considers why The Machines still need them alive and close. They can’t separate them because whatever fuels their love for each other also keeps their electronic world going. As the trailers have teased, there’s familiarity whenever their digital selves meet. Uniting them is important, but at what cost? The existential themes isn’t as much at the forefront in this latest. A new villain named Analyst (wickedly played by Neil Patrick Harris) is trying to comprehend what drives Neo. The human condition can’t be replicated with computer code; as this AI says free will is a dream, others disagree and will resist.
This film doesn’t get deep with rhetorics. It feels more like an attempt at reviving a franchise by looking back at what made the original great and including meta aware dialogue. I had to chuckle at those moments as it was the screenwriters attempt to poke fun at why this movie was really made. Had there been a connection with the Netflix series Sense8, I’d be praising Lana for broadening the scope of the franchise. As for whether there’ll be more movies down the road, it’s unlikely.
3½ Stars out of 5