The Matrix Resurrections: A review
Just finished watching it, and while I’m sure I need to process and reflect a little more on it, I can at least give my initial impression: meh.
I came in not expecting much because, to be honest, the trilogy didn’t end as good as it started. I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t end up a kaleidoscope of colors either, since the promotional material seemed to insinuate it might take after some of the other Wachowski’s works.
The first hour felt like a rehash of the first Matrix. While the callbacks were good fan service, it felt uninspired and something I would expect from a Disney franchise. The second half seemed to lose the thread and the plot got rambled through to the point that you forget what the whole point of the movie was supposed to be. It basically ends as a…love story? The deeper philosophical elements of the trilogy were eschewed for predictable tropes and artificial suspense.
The characters lacked depth, and I was particularly disappointed in the new incarnations of Agent Smith and Morpheus. The younger actors lacked the gravitas that the original duo brought to the screen. The bated, deliberate delivery that provided weight to the characters was replaced by trite, pithy lines that don’t do the original characters any justice. Neil Patrick Harris is also better suited for a comedic role rather than a dramatic one, and his character failed at both in this movie.
The movie had a decent environment and art direction, but it got ruined by overuse of CGI and green screen. The action scenes either had stilted fights with aging actors, or had so much action that they lacked any real sense of danger (there were scenes with throngs of people attacking the main characters with bullets never seeming to hit anyone important).
I had hoped that after 20 years there would be some real contribution to the canon, but this movie answered enough questions to explain why Neo is alive, without contributing any further philosophy into the series. It ends with a clear open ending for future installments, which would only serve as cash grabs.
The movie started off with many meta-references to itself, making a joke about sequels being unoriginal. I had hoped this self-awareness would have translated to either a new level of meta-discussion or at least an attempt to not fall into the folly of most half-assed sequels. Apparently that line was solely a joke, and it cheapens the movie because of it.
Was it a good movie? Not really. Was it a bad movie? Not necessarily. It was entertaining in the same way a Michael Bay explosion is entertaining, but those looking for intellectual stimulation will be left empty-handed.
Personally, I loved it. I think it's a lovely little interrogation of art and it's the Matrix movie that seems most sober and bittersweet regarding the limitations of the series itself and its capacity for radical change. It's also the most personal and heartfelt feeling of the series to me, leaning heavily into the idea of art as therapy (I raised an eyebrow a bit as passing therapy off as a tool of systemic control but it kind of came together for me as I realized how the meta layer of Neo's surrounding and his own enlightenment align into him essentially creating his own Matrix 4 in realtime as his act of catharsis, mirroring Wachowski's own history with The Matrix). The worst case for me would've been constant "whoa this has all happened before" drops all the way through, and I was pleasantly surprised at how downplayed and ultimately subtle the meta narrative angle was played. Edit: Just wanted to add, also felt that the construction of manufactured longing as a prison was a very potent image of societal critique, and Keanu Reeves sells the forlorn energy in a way I doubted he'd ever be capable of.
This is something I always appreciated about Revolutions too, but I enjoy that even in the moments of "humanizing" machines and programs, they're allowed to be distinctly their own and have their own methods of self expression. Even in shared alliance with the resistance, the machines are completely unique and don't even speak the same language.
Yeah I loved it. I'm still processing, but I feel like it had a lot to say about activism, love, and community.
The meta parts worked really well for me. It was funny in the moment, and honestly I think the movie is different enough from "standard, expected franchise sequel" that it actually works as a critique rather than reinforcing it.
My only criticism at the moment is that I missed the wide, steady and deliberate shots from the older films' action scenes. Maybe it was a deliberate choice to emulate newer action style, maybe it was a limitation due to older actors... but I wish filmmakers would let us see what happens in a fight.
The action was definitely the lowlight, and the worst of the series by far. There's some cool moments in the motorcycle chase, but that's about it. It didn't bother me too much because there's not actually that much of it, and I think this movie unexpectedly works best taken as a coda to Revolutions, which has a little too much spectacle and kind of balances this out. I did wonder how much of it was deliberate, because there is that whole boardroom meeting about what "The Matrix" is really about and what a new Matrix needs, and I got a slow grin across my face as I realized the movie was making a conscious effort to not provide any of the things listed.
That's a good point about not providing what the fictional focus groups wanted - although my partner and I did jokingly yell "cowards!" at the after-credits scene for not showing the cats. Give us the Catrix! :D
Definitely agree. I went in expecting it to be a mediocre to bad action movie because I'm deeply jaded about sequels. But ended up absolutely loving it.
It was so good it made me want to rewatch the original trilogy to see if the sequels were actually better than I remembered, but in a way that younger-me wasn't able to parse. Probably going to do that this weekend.
I'm a huge Matrix fan and love the sequels. I actually think Reloaded is better than the original, and Revolutions has some great stuff even if it is definitely most flawed, especially in terms of pacing. I've always thought part of it comes from being raised in India with close Buddhist relatives. Whereas stuff like Star Wars mostly rings so shallow to me in terms of its Eastern influence, The Matrix series, especially Reloaded and Revolutions, is one of the best attempts at understanding and mixing the concepts of Tao and Zen metaphysics (along with a hundred other unsubtle influences of course) with blockbuster filmmaking in my opinion.
I’ll give it a solid as good as. The philosophy/conspiracy is a little more in depth and the highway chase scene is second to none.
Hell yeah. The 100 Smith fight is some of the tightest 1 vs. group fight choreography I've ever seen, and even in the CG segments it's stunningly well composed. All of the ideas of rebellion and resistance in the first one get flipped on their head and the ideas of free will and choice get expanded in so many tiny and huge ways (particularly love the whole "I'll stand”/"I wanted to sit" exchange).
The Merovingian and Seraph fights were also really well done.
My partner and I watched 2 and 3 right before this new one came out, and honestly they're quite good. I think when I saw them I wasn't old enough to really understand what they were going for. It also helps to think of them as a single movie, and to take breaks if needed.
Honestly if they'd edited more in the parts where they drag a bit, and combined them into one movie, I might have appreciated the more when they first came out.
That's encouraging to hear. Younger me didn't really know how to analyze media or hold strong opinions in the face of The Discourse, so I suspect I just accepted that they were bad because people on the internet said they were bad.
Yeah - everyone just accepted they were Bad, but... I can't really even remember why? Sure there are pacing issues, but lots of movies have that and they aren't dragged nearly as much in The Discourse.
Also the car chase scene is great. :D
I pretty much agree with you. To be honest, it spent so much time retreading the same ground as the previous movies that I ended up falling asleep just as it started to get interesting. I do, however, disagree about Neil Patric Harris being a bad villain; I honestly wish that there were more bad guys who had his particular kind of energy.
I think that the movie does it's biggest disservice to itself whenever they spliced in shots from the old movies. It took away the glow of nostalgia about how good the old movies were and pointed to reasons why the film you're watching is still not as good as the old ones. And the entire concept of the interim machine civil war and now friendly machines really brings to light how poorly defined the concept of what kind of intelligence the machines had.
I can almost see it as being the movie that @deknalis is talking about, but I think that there's just too many problems with this movie distracting me from seeing the good points.
Honestly, I had a really hard time believing that this was a Wachowski movie at all. I wonder how heavy a hand the producers had used for this film, because I really would like to believe that this isn't all down to being a "half Wachowski" film. It seems like it didn't use any of the lessons that they have learned and implemented in the films they have made since they finished up the trilogy. It didn't have that sense of being stuffed with fine details that they're known for. Most critically, the soundtrack is just awful, sometimes making blaring noises at the most baffling times as if the composer just wanted to randomly interject "I'm a real Matrix movie, folks!" in the middle of a scene.
One of the great entertainment gifts the universe has handed me was to see the matrix in the cinema, slightly high, with absolutely no information about what was in store.
I was steeped in phil dick, ra wilson, and bostonion freemasonry at the time, and it just utterly blew my mind. I can’t imagine any cinematic experience could ever recreate that for me. I did recently undergo ketamine therapy and that came the closest.
With that background, i quite enjoyed this movie. It’s better for me i think because of my advanced age, some themes have a more visceral meaning for me than yhey would have when Inwas younger. That makes the movie better.
Overall the story concepts were good, the plot engaging, but the whole thing was just a hair flat.
Bottome line: glad it got made, totally worth my time and money.
Matrix 4 was undoubtedly the result of the Wachowskis going to WB, saying they needed a paycheck and asking what they had to do to get it.
The first 30 minutes are all meta-masturbation and feel like it was written by someone who considers having a reddit account a personality trait while adding TV Tropes like JJ Abrams adds lens flair. After that it's 20 more minutes of what we'll call meta-heavy-petting instead of the outright meta-masturbation of the first half hour since they're finally sprinkling in what we'll graciously call a plot.
Special effects are terrible; cheap in the sense they could be bested by some of the SFX youtuber channels. Fight choreography is so bad it'd embarrass today's in-debt-to-the-Russian-mob-and-overweight Steven Seagal. Io's set design looks like a community play.
They should have called Laurence Fishburne because Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, in comparison, can't act.
I don't know why, since they're recasting everyone with a cheaper/worse actor anyway, they dressed Jada Pinkett Smith up as an old Niobe to do a terrible old lady voice in terrible old lady makeup when they could have just as easily cast an actual older woman who'd have done a tremendously more convincing job as an old Niobe. It would have at least been consistent to do so since they recast everyone not essential to actually getting the movie made (e.g. Reeves and Moss).
There's zero reason the Merovingian needed to be outfitted like a schizophrenic homeless person, it's this literal way of writing that makes my statement about the first 30 minutes being a cliché riddled mess apply to the entire movie and the sheer meta-fan-service is like I cloned myself solely for the purpose of autofellatio.
I'm half surprised they didn't just re-release the original Matrix with how many shot-for-shot copies they did.
I'm unsurprised Neil Patrick Harris is in this as antagonist/comic relief as he's a bit like Nicolas Cage, he'll sign on to do just about anything. The difference is, just like the rest of the cast, he's barely a step above improv night at a comedy club when it comes to believability in his acting.
Lastly, while Rage Against The Machine's Wake Up is probably one of the few tolerable-bordering-on-good songs they have, the Brass Against cover is categorically worse and that's coming from someone that adores cover songs.
Overall, if it this was the exact same movie just under any other name/intellectual property it would be a SyFy made-for-TV production exclusively viewed by insomniacs when it airs every Wednesday at 3am for the rest of eternity. Since nearly the entire movie was nothing but background monologuing, I'm sure it'll spawn into a new endless franchise cranking out assembly line shit to feed the mouth breathing masses like a fully automated McDonald's.
I want my two and a half hours of life back.
The movie plot is about how the main character was contractually required to make a sequel. Could that have been a convenient plot point? Sure, but as you stated the first 30 minutes of 'meta-masturbation' seemed like they were there to drive home the point that they perhaps didn't have a choice. The absence of both directors is additionally damning. To me, it read more as a big fuck you to WB for forcing them to revisit the series as a cash grab, and trying to set up the movie as 'yeah, executives had their paws all over this' than anything else.
It also reads as an incredibly easy way for the Wachowskis to wash their hands of any blame by pointing a finger and saying "but they made me do it!" with lazy writing, when it's abundantly clear they aren't slaves to WB.
Let's go ahead with the theory that WB was going to make the movie whether the Wachowskis were involved or not. They had three options:
Number 3 seems the likely option...
...or if you look at literally everything else they've written and directed since the original Matrix you realize it's (ironically) a big number 2.
Matrix Reloaded? Sucked.
Matrix Revolutions? Sucked.
Speed Racer? Sucked.
Cloud Atlas? Sucked.
Jupiter Ascending? Sucked.
Matrix Resurrections? Fucking sucks.
So let's Occam's Razor this. Either they made a movie incredibly bad on purpose as some sort of protest to the IP being relaunched while risking their career and banking a multi-million dollar paycheck ...or... as evidenced by literally everything else they've touched, they're just not very good and are a one hit wonder.
Uh... I enjoyed Speed Racer quite a bit :P
Don't omit V For Vendetta, that was a good one!
They didn't write and direct it.
Lana Wachowski hired the writers who penned the series finale for another lacklustre production, Sense8 (more on this in a second), and they cranked out what feels like a bad made-for-TV Matrix where everything was off and felt cheap.
I mention Sense8 because its another series that has a really cool concept at its heart but completely fell apart with the execution.
To me at least, Matrix 4 came off more like Troy Duffy's Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day. It was also heavy on nostalgia / meta... and also not really worth watching if you're a fan of the original. I also had a sense of a Fantastic Four situation where they needed something to maintain the IP.
The Matrix is one of the better films for the genre... but the sequels failed to capture the same magic. Instead of kicking a dead horse, it would have made more sense to do a live-action miniseries akin to the Animatrix where they dig into the universe and tell some stories other than 'Neo needs to get Trinity because love'.
I didn't like a lot of the casting choices either. It felt like a parody. A good deal of this can be pinned on the screenplay, but the action hasn't ever been as tight as the first one. The wire-work just isn't there, which is a major point for the franchise. I really wish they had gone beyond 'Neo can stop bullets' and had him bending the world itself. The new bullet-time schtick didn't work as well as it could have, either.
Two scenes I really enjoyed: the splat and running through doors where the subsequent room was rotated. That was a great visual --- and I wish we had more of that.
All in all, it felt like a let down, even though I was sort of expecting it.
I wouldn't be surprised if WB said 'we're rebooting this with or without you' and Lana Wachowski decided to take it on to protect their baby. The post-credit scene went in deeper into this.
Not sure if anyone was listening with a great system or headphones, but the audio also had some weird quirks -- like a lot of reverb when Neo was speaking outside of his office.
I thought the movie was boring and the action pretty uninspired. It does something I've noticed in many mediocre movies recently. When two people are speaking the camera just zooms onto their faces and that's it, like a sitcom. No interesting camera angles like in the original. Just the most basic shots to progress their pretentious story.
One of the weird things about the matrix, is the whole humans as batteries thing.
Machines would get more energy from simply burning the food, than wiring humans into a highly problematic AI engine.
I can think of a couple of plausible explanations for why AI decided to feed humans 25 Joules of energy for every 1 Joule created. Asimov's robotic laws gone rogue is one.
But they are all a little... odd.
One of the fundamental assumptions that the Matrix never questions, is that Neo broke out into the real world when he swallowed the red pill.
I keep on hoping for a movie where Neo realizes the red pill broke him out into another simulation, that what he thought was real was effectively a simulation in a simulation.
I think originally the machines were using humans for computing/processing power, but it got changed to batteries so it was more easily understood by a wider audience. Although I can't remember where I read that... Regardless, I tend to treat that as canon, when I do think about it.
And yeah, I was always fond of the theory that the reason Neo can affect machines in the real world isn't because he basically has wifi, but because the real world (including Zion) is also a simulation.
Haha, yeah, I don't think the text supports it. It's just fun to think about~
Still kinda weird. I mean how did machines get smart enough to use humans as CPUs... without having humans plugged into them as CPUs?
Now I am sad, that it was a well known theory, and they never went with it. Probably because it was deemed too confusing? People loved Inception, Rick & Morty, Memento, Time Travel movies.
With regular CPUs. They just use human brains for most of their processing needs. CPU manufacturing is super, super labor intensive. If you could just grow your CPUs instead, and they'd run for ~70 years with no work except for providing them a nutrient sludge, that could be pretty useful. I'm assuming the tanks they put people in pretty much shut down their whole bodies except their brains anyway, hence all the tubes, so they're drawing only the energy needed to run their brains. Makes a lot more sense to me.
Either humans or computers have to have built out AI worlds with AI pods and brain/computer interfaces with flying robots. Then humans either willingly or by force get into the pods. It still seems a stretch. At least a small portion of Humans would not go quietly into that good night... and some of them will have access to WMDs.
The idea that everything is a simulation is just... simpler. It requires some colossal brain or computer to have phenomenal processing power to allow for such detailed simulations, but with that one giant assumption, pretty much anything is possible.
I personally find it easier to believe in a giant super brain, than in human behavior fundamentally changing. And it opens a whole new world of story narratives.
If you haven't read the short story The Egg by Andy Weir, it's an interesting take on the whole idea of reincarnation & simulation.
And if I am beating a dead horse, I apologize.
You're not, I love talking about this series, and in particular this glaring plot hole.
This is actually pretty well detailed in the canonical The Animatrix, during the second renaissance story. To summarize, humans started developing more and more advanced AI, to the point where many people had sentient robotic assistants living in their homes. One of those robotic assistants, after overhearing that its master was preparing to destroy it, killed him. It was put on trial for murder and destroyed, being ruled that it didn't have rights and wasn't a person. This triggered massive controversy among sentient machines and sympathetic humans, and a long period of racial/species tension ensued.
Eventually, the machines, tired of being persecuted, left and formed their own nation called 01 and tried to leave peacefully on earth, separately from mankind. Because they're machines who don't need to sleep, and have almost limitless intelligence and strength, their industries vastly outproduced humanity's and they became by far the largest exporter of goods, growing insanely powerful, which the leaders of humanity's nations obviously took issue with. They requested to join the UN, which was denied, right as it all came to a head, and the nations of humanity declared war on the machines. There were massive nuclear exchanges, which damaged the machines, but not as much as it damaged mankind, since you know, they don't need to eat, or stay warm, or really have to worry about gamma radiation. There was an intense period of all out war where the machines just rampaged across earth, winning most battles pretty easily. As a last ditch effort, humanity, figuring that without a power source as reliable as the sun, the machines would eventually die out faster than humanity would and that would turn the tide, so the human armies seeded the sky with black clouds, turning it into eternal darkness.
Out of desperation, and because for some magical reason in the matrix universe human bodies produce a lot of energy, the machines began kidnapping and studying humans to use them as a power source. The matrix was devised as a way to keep them both physically docile, and continue to stimulate brain activity that could be harvested for power. I doubt most people were forcibly put into pods even towards the beginning, they were just born into the system. They're born in artificial wombs created by the machines, soon after birth implanted with interfaces and ports that let their bodies stay sustained and their minds hooked into the matrix. Obviously the whole power thing ignores thermodynamics, but it could be argued that human brains are extremely neuron dense, and artificially manufacturing something like that, while possible, would require a huge deal of sophistication and precision that the machines figured would just be a drain for no reason. The machines running the show most likely don't have any sort of recognizable human morality system, so the matrix and brain power harvesting scheme seems ideal.
Wow, sounds like a combination of Terminator & that really bad Highlander sequel where they blacken the sky to avoid global warming (no robots.)
I always liked the Ender approach to AI, in that AI is possible, but truly smart AI would require truly phenomenal computing power.
Asimov sort of side stepped the entire thing with the positronic brain.
But then once you have the positronic brain, you don't need human brains.
It still seems weird that computers were powerful enough to destroy humans with just their CPUs, but then needed to create a symbiotic existence with humans because they were either unable to create a nuclear power plant, or because they wanted something in a human brain that their CPU could not give them?
Sounds like the Wachowskis chose their path and committed to it a long time ago tho.
And it's easy for me to be an armchair critic.
Especially one who never kept up with the fan base.
They never really get into it, but if we suspend our disbelief and accept that humans being a net positive generator of energy is a thing that's true in the matrix series, you could hypothesize that by the time the machine war was over, all reasonably easy to reach fissile material was already exhausted, so human beings were the best, most reliable option for power. By the time the whole war kicked off, it was already at least 100 years into the future, and there were a massive amount of nuclear weapons manufactured and expended during the war. I'd imagine most fossil fuels were already exhausted also. I'm not sure why the machines wouldn't just go to space and live happily ever after, but you could probably come up with reasons for that also. The machines are shown to have actual emotions, so maybe they just feel a sense of ownership and sentimentality towards earth.
And that machines starved of energy somehow figure a way to have super efficient/ anti grav flying machines?
If you have super energy efficient anti-grav, there is your unlimited power source right there.
I got all excited and was... disappointed. It was entertaining. I even sort of liked the Analyst, and Johnathan Groff as this newly minted, even slightly softer Smith (they tried like hell to get Hugo Weaving, but there was a conflict apparently).
I didn't care for the sudden turn to a zombie apocalypse, even if that provided a couple of funny moments. I could sort of understand some transition to sentimentality over logic and reason/computing, particularly given the Analyst's explanation for how he set up the Matrix. But it felt too flat, and I totally agree with the people here talking about the attempt to be self-effacing about Warner Brothers being an attempt at being clever in an otherwise not particularly good movie (why is it always bad movies that try to make these jokes?). It tried too hard with sneaking in little jokes, and the early fan service was, frankly, annoying.
And Jada Pinkett Smith's reprisal of her role was distracting. If she'd had the makeup, stooped over, and spoke like normal it would've sold better.
Seems like the pitch meeting is accurate : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHCsz78GfYg