Released: December 22, 2021
Watched: January 1, 2022
The Matrix (1999) is a formative film. I worn out the VHS watching it over and over throughout high school. Lines and scenes live rent-free in my mind.
I haven’t watched the film since college, so I decided to do a rewatch in preparation for watching Resurrections. I was deeply amused how much I could still quote verbatim. The pioneering special effects is still impressive. The film still holds up.
When the sequels (The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions) were released in 2003, I watched them in the movie theaters without subtitles, and all I remember is confusing choices and crappy CGI. During my rewatch, I was surprised that they weren’t as terrible as I remembered. Still not great, but I found things I could like (the lore-building in Reloaded, the battle for Zion in Revolutions).
As I did in 2003, I still felt unsatisfied with how the trilogy ended. I wasn’t happy that Neo and Trinity died (Trinity’s death was particularly senseless.), and that we never got to see what happened to the human survivors in Zion after the war.
I had fairly high expectations — Revolutions was a definite ending to the trilogy, so Lana Wachowski must have found something worth telling after 18 years away from the franchise, an idea compelling enough to convince Keanu Reeves and Carrie Ann Moss to return, especially when they have enough starpower and clout to choose their own projects.
The trailers deeply intrigued me — Keanu Reeves’ Neo and Carrie Ann Moss’ Trinity seemingly alive, reinserted into the Matrix, but with no memories of their past lives. Keanu’s character, a programmer who turned The Matrix in a best selling video game trilogy, struggling to separate fantasy from reality. I was eager to peek into Neo’s psyche.
As the trailers played, I slouched and fidgeted in my seat, trying to find a comfortable position to watch the movie. Midway through the opening scene, I bolted upright and watched raptly for the next two hours.
Resurrections is a direct sequel to Revolutions, so watching the entire trilogy will help the audience understand certain story beats, but the film contains enough archive footage as flashbacks to provide enough context. Only The Matrix is absolutely essential viewing, as Resurrections explicitly references visual cues and lines to trigger nostalgia in both Neo and the audience.
Do not go into the film expecting something akin to Reloaded or Revolutions. While it pushes the story forward from where Revolutions left off, tonally, it feels more like a true sequel to The Matrix — more interested in examining ideas. Ideas such as existential dread, media greed, reclaiming agency, and reconciling legend with reality.
Resurrections is the ending I needed Revolutions to be. It provides better closure on Neo and Trinity’s stories and a hopeful update on the future of Humanity after the war. It is a self-contained story that works as an conclusion to the franchise. All the questions I had going into the movie was satisfactorily answered as the plot zipped along at a confident pace.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is believable as Morpheus — he captures the same haughty charisma that Laurence Fishburne had. Jonathan Groff and Neil Patrick Harris has fun chewing up the scenery.
I appreciated how meta and self-aware Resurrections is. The story of Neo is now legendary, both within the film universe and within our pop culture. In the Matrix, Neo is a world-famous programmer known for his The Matrix trilogy games, pressured to write a fourth game. So there’s a few jabs at capitalism, media consumption, and Warner-Bros. Unfortunately, at times, those meta references (particularly when discussing the game and a character’s rant in the second act) was just a tad too on-the-nose that it took me out of the story.
The action sequences are serviceable but not impressive or groundbreaking as previous entries. There was no emotional heft to the climatic fight.
Still, I look forward to rewatching this movie and digesting it some more — it’s a worthy sequel, better than Reloaded and Revolutions.