Friday, December 31, 2021

The Matrix: Resurrections (2021)

Even for a hardcore Matrix fan, this is a difficult film to describe. Other critics didn’t cover it on release day, and still haven’t covered it. That’s not to say it’s bad, it just asks a lot of its audience.

In the classic Matrix era, Neo’s freedom fries ideology was pretty cool. But, the Wachowskis being who they are, the general tone of this fourth installment is a product of the current era.

I may sound like an old man complaining about movies, but when your entire product banks on nostalgia, the original audience is generally the current audience. Nobody who hasn’t seen the previous films will understand this one, and those who have may still not understand it. This movie isn’t for us, it’s for the Wachowskis and a small group of their friends. Anyone who isn’t that deeply in-the-loop will probably be confused or disappointed, but it’s not terrible.

Did Keanu create the modal? Did he create Morpheus 2? Is he some kind of brilliant AI programmer, and if so, is the Matrix now internally post-singularity yet still aesthetically late-1990s? How does that work? Do bluepill software employees go about their lives business-as-usual with the knowledge that their boss creates sentient beings? Were all the pieces scrambled up to give the film replay value?

I don’t hate this movie. It’s not bad, it’s just not as good as the previous 3 films. Even the characters in the film complain about the decline of the series. The film does a better job of criticizing itself than I ever could.

The new Matrix (because the agents have to keep remaking it) is the same 1990s green-and-black computer culture as before, with Moore’s Law playing its part everywhere else. I hope the audience of this film understands that green text on a black screen is an aesthetic choice based on nostalgia, not something that reduces eye strain.

Like other 2021 films, The Matrix 4 isn’t bad, but I don’t strongly recommend it either. This is the era of rebooting age-old franchises because they’re financially safe with today’s aging moviegoers and their kids. Middle-class families may or may not be who this movie was for. I don’t even know if I watched it correctly. But there definitely is an audience for it, somewhere…


Most people going into this movie have probably seen its predecessors. Otherwise, with a simultaneous streaming and theatrical release in the US, it seems like the kind of thing you could watch after bingeing the previous films. Then watch The Animatrix.