Before I begin, let me lay some background. THE MATRIX (1999) is one of my all-time favorite films. I’ve seen it many times over the years. I also enjoy its two live-action sequels, THE MATRIX RELOADED and THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, both from 2003, and the ANIMATRIX animated anthology series, also from 2003. But the original has always felt like a cornerstone of my life, not only as a cinephile but as an adult making their way into the world. A caterpillar becoming a butterfly, so to speak. In March of 1999, when the original was released, I was less than three months into my move from my home in New York to Los Angeles, and at the time, had no plans on staying the rest of my life.
So here we are, 22 years later. I still live in Los Angeles, I still love THE MATRIX, and I’ve come to learn about and appreciate the role this ground-breaking film series has played in the lives of many others. On the positive side, the Matrix-as-trans-allegory has helped many of my friends be their true selves. (Note: OT (original trilogy) co-writer/co-director Lilly Wachowski confirmed the theory.) On the other side, and much to the dismay of the Wachowskis, some have co-opted the “red pill” trope as means of fighting against societal progress. THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS, co-written and directed by Lana Wachowski, brilliantly serves to take back control of the story that absolutely changed the course of both her and her sister’s lives.
The film opens in a different yet still familiar place. Somehow Neo seems alive again after the events of the original trilogy… or is he just a simulation of the Matrix itself? The same goes for Trinity, now leading a very different life too. “But how?” I asked myself. As each question popped into my head, the film peeled back layer after layer to satisfactorily answer each mystery and to cleverly “resurrect” beloved characters we thought we’d lost. There’s a reason Thomas Anderson/Neo is back in the Matrix, and it beckons back to the Architect and the Oracle from the OT – As we already know, that wasn’t the first Matrix, nor the first Neo. And as peace was achieved between humans and machines at the end of REVOLUTIONS, perhaps the AI creators of the Matrix have finally found a way to stop the regular launch – resistance – rise of “the one” – reboot they had faced several times in the past. Much like Lana Wachowski has found a way to reclaim and reimagine THE MATRIX as an IP, to take an old hit and create a new reality that both critiques the current blockbuster-sequel-reboot-loving film industry and also recognizes its place within it.
This is just one layer of commentary because THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS also has a lot to stay on the stagnation of progress in 2021. Yes, we’ve come a long way since 1999, but do we feed off our inner hope or the despair our constant fight for survival requires of us? Are we still stuck in the binary of male and female, good and evil, man and machine, or have we finally struck a balance between all? It is quite obvious that Lana herself has found hope and inner peace that she didn’t have as an auteur in the 90s, whether she was aware at the time or not.
There are a lot of original MATRIX OT fans who come for the special effects, the fight scenes, the action – and if that’s all you’re looking for, you’ll probably walk away disappointed. RESURRECTIONS asks you to make a choice between hope and despair. What holds back society, and what pushes it forward? It’s no longer as simple as a blue or red pill because we’ve moved past that binary, right? Perhaps yes or perhaps no, but the choice is yours to make.
Massive props to Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne Moss for so effortlessly falling back into the roles of Neo and Trinity. And welcome Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (WATCHMEN, AQUAMAN ) and Jessica Henwick (GAME OF THRONES, IRON FIST), who are both poised to be massive stars over the next decade and deservedly so.
Plug back in. Follow the white rabbit.
THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS is playing in theatres and on HBOMax 🐈⬛ 🐇 🐈⬛