The Matrix Resurrections (2021)
December 16, 2021 9:27 PM - Subscribe

A programmer makes lifestyle changes after tiring of the daily grind.
posted by DoctorFedora (127 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Posting early because this came out in Japan today and I kind of need to talk about it! I really enjoyed this overall, though the third act sagged in the same way as every movie with a marketing budget this size. The first act alone was worth it, though, especially given how little the trailers give away about what’s going on.

I kind of love works of fiction that are about themselves, and also about their own legacies! A lot of this movie gave me extremely strong Metal Gear Solid 4 vibes, especially with the brief flashbacks inserted to provide context/reminders. Like, it somehow walked the line of deliberately replicating iconic shots and moments, but in a way that usually recontextualized them with a twist.

Also, it had brief moments of being very funny, in the same sort of way that the original was and the sequels weren’t! Although I kind of feel like a certain cameo was honestly kind of unnecessary, and felt like it was trying too hard.

I will say that the most obvious actors not returning wound up feeling almost like it was for the best? I definitely feel like having them in there wouldn’t have strengthened things.

Anyway yeah I enjoyed this movie overall! Might rewatch on HBO Max once it’s out on there?
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:37 PM on December 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

On an enjoyment scale, where did it land in terms of Reloaded and Revolutions?
posted by rozcakj at 5:58 AM on December 17, 2021

Glad I’d seen them so the plot made sense, but overall more enjoyable I think. Still not as good as the original, but it’s at least a lot more enjoyable than Revolutions
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:03 PM on December 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

Thanks Doc - that’s what I was hoping to hear (I enjoyed them all, at-some-level!)
posted by rozcakj at 2:51 PM on December 18, 2021

Haven't seen the movie yet, although the description reminds of the classic TV-Guide entry for The Wizard of Oz:
Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then teams up with three strangers to kill again.
posted by autopilot at 5:15 AM on December 19, 2021 [17 favorites]

Yeah, I kind of wanted to avoid spoilers on the main page. My other leading candidate was (slightly more spoilery) "Programmer Thomas Anderson learns all is not as it seems after meeting a mysterious man named Morpheus."
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:04 PM on December 20, 2021 [4 favorites]

Pretty good, and agree with the doctor: better than the last one (not a particularly high bar). Too many nostalgic callbacks to the original makes it fairly predictable in many spots, but it has lots of fun, thrilling moments (and one truly horrifying moment) in and around the absurd gunplay. Matrix agents continue to be worse shots than Stormtroopers.

The set-up was good, the explanation of what happened between Revolutions and now wasn't too much of a stretch, and the pokes at modern culture weren't too obvious (though they were close, that rant in the middle of a huge battle from a haggard character from the 2nd movie was pretty fucking obvious). I had high hopes until the ridiculous final act/caper with Trinity's pod. No way they could have done that, given what the characters themselves told us just minutes earlier about how it was guarded. Disappointing to see a series that prides itself on its smarts try to foist off such a dumbly artificial tension-inducing last act, but that's Hollywood, even as it includes jokes about itself in the script.

Re: queer content from one of the most visible queer directors in Hollywood, there isn't much, which I attribute to the usual box office greed that caters to conservative Chinese government censors by not acknowledging the reality of queer lives in a clear, honest way. The hot fawning Neo-ologist Berg in the new rebel crew gets a quick funny couple of lines making it clear he's attracted to Neo, there's a moment of tenderness between two older women that can be read as a lesbian relationship, and a very brief moment that suggests Bugs and Lexy are more than comrades-in-arms, but that's about it. It's all very plausibly deniable, and I'll be curious to see how the overseas translations of Berg's lines turn out. 20 years after the massive Zion orgy scene that had no queer representation, Hollywood is still frightened by LGBTQ folks in the future.

Honestly, none of the new crew (aside from new Morpheus and Bugs, sort of) gets any kind of character development at all, so I suppose Berg's few lines establishing his queerness kind of stand out, but we've seen other blockbusters do much better with secondary and tertiary characters. This movie barely tries, which makes it hard to care much when the crew is in danger.

Worth watching, for sure. Definitely *not* worth risking getting a respiratory infection for.
posted by mediareport at 8:40 AM on December 22, 2021 [6 favorites]

Oh and Jonathan Groff is fabulous, but you already knew he would be. Please use him for all the villains in the future.
posted by mediareport at 8:52 AM on December 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

It was… all right.

I will admit I liked coming back to these characters and seeing what’s happened. The first act of the movie really pulled me in, and I wish it had gone harder there: I wanted Thomas to be Keanu Reeves, honestly. There were hints of this – The Matrix being a game trilogy in-universe (or… in Matrix, I guess) and Warner Brothers actually being the parent company here – but what I wanted wasn’t quite met on screen. I do wish the movie spent more time world building this Matrix-in-Matrix, other than giving us what was mostly an extended vignette. Really extended.

I was going to call out the “we have one backlot outdoor soundstage and we’re going to use every penny of it” but if it was in-Matrix, I can forgive it as a little cheeky. I will also say that NPH + blue glasses made me swoon.

The middle act is where this started to sag for me though; an hour in, I checked and saw I had another 90 minutes left. And it mostly felt like it took on an “exposition/ cut to the ship/ fight scene!/ back to the ship” formula that could have been tighter. (Plus! We hear that 60 years have passed but it just kinda… hangs there. Go there!)

The final third was all right; I found the Smith/bot bomb threat and chase scene to be a little more exciting but underdeveloped. It’s where I really checked out, admittedly. I didn’t personally get too much more out of the movie at that point.

Anyway, it was fine to me, nothing more. I do concur with everything mediareport said about the lack of queer representation here; it too felt unfinished and underdeveloped.

Last random thoughts:
  • Loved seeing the Cloud Atlas reference in the big SF chase scene! IS IT IN UNIVERSE
  • The entire production felt more TV movie than theatrical release to me (I did watch it at home) – it felt like it had a smaller reach
  • Small-ish budget and COVID filming protocols were felt
  • The captions completely spoiled everything when NPH’s role was tagged as “Analyst” from the get-go, even though he was an in-Matrix doctor.
If this is a bookend to the trilogy, it’s an okay sendoff. But the other characters weren’t developed enough to warrant further exploration, which feels a little sad. I’m not sure I need to watch it again… it was an okay way to pass some time.
posted by hijinx at 9:18 AM on December 22, 2021 [6 favorites]

Definitely better than Reloaded and Revolutions, not as good as the original. The plot could have been a little tighter, some of the action could probably have been dropped, there were a few spots that felt a lot like they were just padding the runtime. A lot of the meta-jokes, callbacks and self-reference and such were fun, but maybe just a little too on the nose. I really didn't like the big swarm-style fight scenes, they just get too packed and it's hard to see what, if anything, is happening.

Overall, I liked it quite a bit for what it is, and I thought it bookended the original trilogy much better than Revolutions. Nothing mind-blowing, but still better than 80%+ of the big budget style action movies out there.
posted by mrgoat at 12:51 PM on December 22, 2021

I just finished watching, and I'm going to need some time to process a lot of it. First impressions:

There have been a lot--a LOT--of movies lately that have been based on predatory nostalgia. Ready Player One, Space Jam 2, and Free Guy are some of the worst offenders, but also things like the recent Star Trek movies/series that have no understanding of the source material but which exist because "you remember this, isn't it nice?" is an easy thing to monetize.

So I appreciated how one of the themes of this film is on how The Matrix (ie capitalism, in its aspect as Hollywood) takes stories that have deep meaning and strip and corrupt and twist them for control (and profit).

And that the impact of the events of the first three films was to make peace with some machines and programs, that Io exists and the free human society is starting to develop into someplace where a person might want to actually live: I appreciated that this movie did not erase that progress.
posted by JDHarper at 1:28 PM on December 22, 2021 [19 favorites]

I loved this. I didn't want a sequel, I didn't expect a sequel, but it had everything I didn't know I wanted from one.

It has some flaws: I wish Trinity was more of a character. It's a romance with almost no co-lead, that really, really hopes that the viewer remembers the previous movies and can extrapolate from there. I also wish that the crew of the Mnemosyne were more of a thing. New Morpheus's relevance kinda vanished after the first act when he probably deserved a bit more focus considering Neo wrote him. I missed Hugo Weaving for some of the Smith scenes. The second and third acts were a bit of a letdown after the incredible first act. The Merovingian fight was completely unnecessary.

But even then, those are just nitpicks. Everything else I loved. That first act? * chef kiss *, "subtext is for cowards" made film. The Analyst's mirroring some mannerisms from The Architect even though he purports to be wholly different. Every scene with Bugs, especially the one where she sees Neo for the first time. The plot in general feels like a natural continuation to the sequels while not being a retread.

I've seen some people comparing this movie to The Last Jedi and I can't disagree more. It doesn't try to subvert the existing universe, it just follows the dots to show what could have happened after the original trilogy. If anything, I'd say it's closer to a good Force Awakens, contextualizing the similarities instead of copying the original without realizing what made it good.

I know this is supposed to be a one-off but I wouldn't be disappointed if they end up releasing more movies or anything else in this universe. There are so many new things to explore (synthients! friendly synthients even! io!) that it feels like a waste to just leave it there.
posted by simmering octagon at 1:54 PM on December 22, 2021 [11 favorites]

Oh, the post-credits sequel teaser nailed it, too.
posted by mrgoat at 3:05 PM on December 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

Closing credits music is performed by Brass Against -- famous for a recent on-stage golden shower!
posted by paper chromatographologist at 3:47 PM on December 22, 2021 [4 favorites]

If you've watched and remember the first movie but not the next two, would this one still make sense and/or be worth watching?
posted by trig at 4:53 PM on December 22, 2021

there are elements of the sequels that matter (Neo DIED !!!) but for the most part if you remember the original you're mostly okay
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:04 PM on December 22, 2021

Doogie Howser gets Zach Morris powers.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:04 PM on December 22, 2021 [8 favorites]

there are elements of the sequels that matter (Neo DIED !!!)

Yeah, at the end of Revolutions Trinity is dead and Neo is probably dead, so there's some cleanup this movie has to do from that, but the relevant part for this sequel is to recall the finale of the triology where Neo and the Machine City intelligence combine forces to defeat the viral Agent Smith.

Oh and also don't forget the very final scene, where the little girl program Sati makes a sunrise "for Neo" and asks the Oracle "will we ever see him again?" and the Oracle answers, "I suspect so. Someday."

So it was kinda left open, and the new movie uses a couple of infodumps to catch the audience up about what Lana Wachowski has decided happened after that.
posted by mediareport at 5:31 PM on December 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

I thought this was a lot of fun. I even went to the theater, and I hate hate hate paying for that. But you gotta go to the movies to see The Matrices. I am not really into Marvel, but maybe this is the joy those fans get when one of the MCU movies is released.
I still enjoy watching the first one, as in the summer of 1999 I was starting my junior year in high school and this movie was The Coolest Efin Thing Ever and the following year I had a friend who had the Nokia with the after-market kit that made the front pop down with the button. Not even gonna apologize for the grammatical monstrosity that was the previous sentence. Also Keanu Reeves. Also the soundtrack that I bumped in my 1989 Civic.
There’s nostalgia, but a few zigs and zags; just enough fanservice to where it’s not pandering.
I agree that I would have appreciated more development for Trinity because she’s such a badass character, but I thought that the third act insinuated a lot about her as a heroine. Maybe I read into it a little too much.
I really missed Hugo Weaving; my only major complaint, but apparently they just couldn’t get the schedules to work out. But that’s because he’s awesome, and to me he’s Smith.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 7:00 PM on December 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

This was a whole lot of fun. I wasn't sure Lana Wachowski would be able to deliver on a fun, entertaining, meta-as-fuck but also newish and fresh followup take on The Matrix. But she did! Not gonna lie, I was also amused by the clear trolling of certain folks, including Warner Bros.

I had no doubt that she could deliver on a big mayhem-laden, well-choreographed, well done, visually pleasing pile of violence, because she's fucking Lana fucking Wachowski.

Also, some serious Sense8 reunion action going on there.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:04 PM on December 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

I wouldn't be disappointed if they end up releasing more movies or anything else in this universe.

I enjoyed this and am going to need to watch it again, but at some level I curse everything that prevents the Wachowskises from providing me with an endless stream of The Adventures of Diomika Tsing of the Aegis.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:11 PM on December 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

Very mixed. Clunky last 2/3, expositiondumparoo.

However teh awesome was:
a) META META PARANOID first 1/3.

b) HAHAH terfs/binary thinkers/fascists/technoapologists/appropriators. That was some quality fuckyous from the writer.


posted by lalochezia at 7:39 PM on December 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I legitimately was annoyed by how they started the Trinity heist with "oh no we can't get to her, they tightened the security", but maybe NuMorpheus can sneak up a ventilation shaft and do some stuff, and next thing you know the very Synthients they said couldn't get to Trinity are right there with them on the heist and working the extraction.

I mean, at least some of it I guess you can kind of write off as whatever Emergency Operator Hologram that Seq was using a lot, sure, but...

Also they seemed to be pretty goddamn casual about jacking people in and out of the Matrix in a way that robbed the movie of the tension the originals had - if you die in the matrix, you die in the real world, and you can't get back to the real world without a special action. Here? Although they set it up with a new special action because phone booths don't really exist any more, it didn't feel like they really carried through with it, either. On the other hand it also meant that they didn't kill off everybody who wasn't Trinity, Morpheus or Neo, so... good?

I was sort of hoping that the cashier with all the white rabbit references Neo saw in the NuMatrix was actually played by Ada Nicodemou, the original White Rabbit, but ... eh it was OK, I guess. And it meant there was some conservation of characters for it to be Sati, so, fine, OK.

I agree that it felt a little made-for-TV, in good and bad ways? I mean, the fights weren't completely OTT in that "we just spent 5 million dollars on 3 minutes of fight scene" sort of way - they were all relatively reasonable, but there were some big effects shots that felt like they knocked it out in a single take and printed it.

And yeah, if NuMorpheus was supposed to be a mixing of Agent Smith and Morpheus, he was sort of underwhelming when the rubber hit the road. As a louche Morpheus re-introducing Neo to the Real World, though - *chef's kiss*.

Otherwise, I liked it, it was fun. Yeah, it didn't shy away from self referential humor, but I think they kind of took the complaint that Revolutions and Reloaded needed a study guide and a highlighter to mind.

Also daaaaang Carrie-Anne and Keanu still got it. Daaaaaaamn. I'll be happy if I look that good at 50.

Plus, I absolutely want that lofi downbeat version of Spybreak Neo was listening to when we first saw him. I mean, the soundtrack was disappointingly short considering how incredible the original one was, but it had its high points. Both of them.
posted by Kyol at 8:17 PM on December 22, 2021 [1 favorite]

I guess I thought it was just ok. They started the movie with lots of meta humor (and super cringey jokes) about how Hollywood makes very mediocre sequels, as well as a line about Warner Bros forcing the sequel, and then the rest of the movie felt like exactly that.

I came away feeling like it was another hollow retread that hoped it could ride on the coattails of nostalgia from the original. I didn’t hate it, but also didn’t love it.

I told a friend it was one of the okayest movies I’ve seen this year.
posted by Fleebnork at 8:23 PM on December 22, 2021 [14 favorites]

Creatively bankrupt garbage.
posted by lkc at 12:12 AM on December 23, 2021 [8 favorites]

Is this the kind of sequel the people who complained about the original sequels wanted?

I'm not particularly committed to The Matrix, but one of the TV channels here had the habit of showing the same Big Movies every Friday evening - so it would be a month of Skyfall or Underworld or something. Consequently I saw a bunch of these movies a number of times. After a few viewings, I found that I vastly preferred the madness of the Matrix sequels to the original movie. On the other hand, for the vast majority of people the relatively straightforward flashy action of the first movie was exactly what they wanted and all the other stuff was nonsense, and I wonder if this might be a (perhaps not entirely successful) sequel for them.

It looks like a latter-day Terminator movie to me, but then I'm a cynic.
posted by Grangousier at 12:44 AM on December 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

I thought it was enjoyable. Definitely not as tight as the first film. I enjoyed some of the callbacks, but I didn't think it was over the top. I really liked NPH. At first I was a little bit worried the first act was just going to be the original all over again, but it ended up working.

I did feel that it came on very strong with a "the world sucks more now" thing and also a "you idiots took exactly the wrong message from the original" statement, but especially that second part felt almost necessary, so it didn't bother me, it was just very notable. It has become quite clear over the years that a lot of people just can't grasp subtext, after all.

Lastly, I was happy that there was some hope what with Io, having real world food that wasn't nasty runny paste, and (some) machines working with the humans.
posted by wierdo at 12:57 AM on December 23, 2021 [4 favorites]

Pretty bad! Feels like a very rushed ending of a not very good TV show. First third is okayish but it gets worse from there and never climbs back up as it just abandons every other possible complication or payoff to merely circle and underline a million times: will Trinity and Neo hold hands??? Well yes of course they will, there's no tension at all.

Like even if in some sense you think this movie is better than Reloaded or Revolutions (and I think it's worse than Reloaded on balance), it feels far less cinematic than either of those movies. It doesn't feel like a thing that should be up on a movie screen and I don't think that's a high bar.

New characters feel very boneless. Just floppin around on screen, freshly emulsified. They are not in any way shape or form cool or interesting. The Morpheus actor was okay but he never quite clicks and IMO no one can fill Fishburne's shoes. Everything in this movie is smothered by clumsy exposition. Like the NPH scene where he reveals the new Bullet Time, which he uses to deliver a speech that's just so boring and unnatural, it just felt bad.

I want to specifically call out the fight scenes. There's a lot of them, and not only are they fairly uninspired, but even what's there does not feel particularly well choreographed or well-shot or well-edited or something. Not the worst ever, but like, not good enough for how much screen time they are using.

There's something kind off about the sound and music, too? This movie is janky as fuck.
posted by fleacircus at 2:34 AM on December 23, 2021 [12 favorites]

Just got out of the theatre. I don't know or recall enough of Lilly Wachowski's work on her own but i can't help but feel her absence in this joint. To me, the Matrix is exemplified by the inventiveness of the action and the philosophy, and it delivered somewhat of the last and absolutely none of the first. It's very much a work that's in dialogue with the pop culture it spawned that overall it's more reactive than inventive. The closest reading I got out of this round of viewing is that of a feminine one - especially with how it wants to say that Trinity is the in-text The One and we've all (well, the fanboys) have been reading it wrong. Very, "well, actually," of a movie imo.

The Analyst finessing bullet time could've been presented better, unfortunately whoever was the SFX visionary that cracked the code to shooting bullet time isn't here so it mostly looks confusing.

But i actually enjoyed it! But it's the nostalgia, i know. I genuinely don't think it does much for a newish person to the lore, it's so self-referential. But at least Lana W and her writing team has more wits about them in presenting story, and clearly understood this world. The mirror universe of this movie being anything by Abrams is probably correct.
posted by cendawanita at 5:03 AM on December 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

I enjoyed some of the callbacks, but I didn't think it was over the top.

They literally have the first movie projected on screens, as well as flashing up clips of the first movie when people say a famous line like “Mister Anderson”

I’m not sure how it could be any more over the top.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:59 AM on December 23, 2021 [11 favorites]

Creatively bankrupt garbage.

Could not be more wrong.

This movie is an extension of the original trilogy, a metacommentary on the impact of the first trilogy on the world, a beautiful ode to the power of love (not only the love between Neo and Trinity either, but the love that overcomes enmity), an A- psychological horror film, and a B+ action movie.

The thing it isn't is creatively bankrupt.
posted by JDHarper at 8:56 AM on December 23, 2021 [25 favorites]

I’m not sure how it could be any more over the top.

By being a shot for shot remake of the original or not having an in-story reason for doing that when it happens. The entire first part of the film is Neo struggling with having been gaslit into believing he's having delusions rather than the flashbacks being actual memories he is experiencing.
posted by wierdo at 10:21 AM on December 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

I was extremely wary of this movie and went into it with very narrow expectations and having only watched one teaser trailer.

I really loved it though. I thought it was self aware in exactly the right way that works perfectly within the world of the Matrix. It managed to build on the established story while also setting up the way the story can continue to evolve.

At its heart this movie is a love story and it really worked for me on that level. Reeves and Moss perfected the art of being horny and longing for each other and every scene they shared pulsed with the energy of two people who can't bare to be apart.

This is not even touching all of the meta textual flourishes that I think smartly commented on the impact of the original films, the way the world has changed since then, and the mixed feelings of making something that changed the world. I can understand not enjoying the self awareness but I think the film made it a part of the story and not just fan service.

I absolutely loved that we get to see other versions of what the symbiotic synthient/human relationship can look like. In some ways the Trinity/Neo relationship is an echo of the longing that the these two species share. If they can just cross the gulf between them they know they can be something greater than the sum of their parts.

Anyway those are just my day-after thoughts about the film but writing about it just now made me really excited to go back and watch it again.
posted by Tevin at 10:43 AM on December 23, 2021 [8 favorites]

Hated it. Felt cheap. I’m a big NPH fan but feel that role could have been cast better.

LOVED new Morpheus and the fact that he was a program.

Didn’t realize until someone here said it but yeah it felt like half a rom com because one character was mostly absent until the end.
posted by one4themoment at 1:28 PM on December 23, 2021 [5 favorites]

I've done a very big number on my brain rewatching all the trilogy in the lead-up to watching this today, and am still processing all of that

let me start with: Reloaded might actually be my favorite of all the Matrix movies. it is operatic, goofy, badass, talky but tight, propulsive. (oh and to mediareport above -- there is queer representation in the Zion orgy scene, albeit murky due to lightning and cinematographic choices, which are probably partially studio-interference-avoidance or otherwise intentional, but still I definitely saw it in a couple shots) it is a movie that says a lot in order to say something actually pretty simple, and it's a near-perfectly executed bit of action filmmaking to wit.

Ressurections is... well, let's start mechanically: the action's just not there. A combination of closer framing, more frenetic camerawork, and more rapid cutting means that this movie has almost none of the "jesus it's cool to watch trained people do choreographed karate" joy of the best action in the trilogy. the very consistent, very tight aesthetics of the trilogy are also mostly absent -- the Matrix is no longer a green and retro-future playground, which makes the grime of the real world less impactful by comparison/contrast.

the world both outside and inside of the Matrix feels depopulated. part of this is the sketchy characterization of side characters; part of it is how apparently all of Io's human representation is just Niobe, a gardener, and like a dozen assorted generals and ship crew. it was important and valuable to me that the movie does not want to throw away the sacrifices of the trilogy for the sake of the "it's war again, like you remember it!" that force awakens did, but I wish it put a bit more love into crafting a real world of real people so we could understand that on an emotional level instead of just having it exposited.

likewise the titular Matrix is weird; when Neo's first unplugged I thought the twist was going to be that he and Trinity are literally the only two brains left in jars. in practice it still ends up feeling that way most of the time -- the "bots" thing is a neat bit of writing to sidestep the increasing ethical dilemma of killing innocent people turned into Agents, but it unmoors the Matrix from its own metaphor to have so many of the minds trapped inside it be not even minds.

but overall from a scriptwriting perspective and giving some concessions to likely budget, timing, and COVID issues, Resurrections does a solid job giving its story a diegetic reason to exist in the reality of its universe. good on it.

from a non-diegetic perspective? this movie's a fucking trip, man. it makes most of the arguments for and against its own franchise out loud, to itself, repeatedly throughout the film. something I always thought landed flatter than it needed to in the original trilogy is the neo/trinity romance, which is the thinnest part of the original film's script and gets stretched to breaking in the sequels, which is why everyone needs to keep reminding you that these two are very much in love. (monica belluci's "character" exists more or less solely for this extremely thankless task!)

here though that works because it works on a meta level -- the love is a love for something lost, for a connection from the past, memory or fiction, you're not sure anymore. nostalgia and remembrance, weaponized by systems of control. it's a perfect iteration of the matrix metaphor for a 2021 context, and just as I'd hope from a matrix movie it iterates by looking inward.

lots of details and choices are made solely to address, attack, and grouch about how the trilogy's central metaphors were previously co-opted by shitheads, but this is also an extremely funny movie, meta-textually. naming a character in a matrix movie "bugs bunny" fucking rules. morpheus as a languid goofball mocking his own seriousness of purpose is wonderful and actually more in keeping with matrix 1's characterization than the other movies. merv as an angry homeless cinemaphile made me laugh out loud repeatedly (did he literally say he would return in a franchise spinoff? some of his dialogue was utterly incomprehensible, more because of the actor's affect and messy beard than the mixing)

christ I just wrote a lot huh? I think I loved this movie, but in a very different way from the original trilogy; I guess I loved it the way I love reading a good essay about those movies, or those kinds of movies, or talking to someone about them and thinking through and contextualizing how films tick and ingrain into culture. but it's a sequel trying to yell from the top of a building that perpetual sequels are terrible and inane, and so ends up with a lot of that inanity built into its code, so I'm not sure it really holds together at all as an actual movie. in the end it's more or less half pretty-good matrix fanfiction and half lana wachowski screaming into the void.

i'm glad it exists
posted by Kybard at 1:34 PM on December 23, 2021 [26 favorites]

I needed to find a place to talk about this film and then I remembered that this was the place I talked about the first film, when I was a teenager working in tech who needed my work to feel cool.

I loved it, though the second half has some noticeable issues. I suspect it needed to be a 4hr film, wasn’t easy to separate into two films, and the biggest cuts came at the expense of certain shit making sense in the second half.

Anyway, I always expected Trinity was the One, and I will admit I both felt very validated by that moment in the film while also recognizing that the film still doesn’t make it explicit and I’m choosing to believe that - while also wondering if they’re two halves of one whole. Anyway we didn’t get enough Trinity in this film so I’m glad she kicked the Analysts ass while making all the same complaints I had (“and that! Was for using children”).

When Warner Brothers was mentioned at the beginning I really sat up and started paying attention. I suspect I will find more meta clues the more I watch it.

I didn’t expect to like this movie very much and I do feel like Lilli’s input is missed but this is way better than I expected.
posted by annathea at 2:19 PM on December 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

I saw a tweet that said "the entire Wachowski filmography is about that shot where two people holding hands pushes away all the violence.'

I need to rewatch to be sure but I don't think Neo picks up a gun once in the entire movie.
posted by JDHarper at 3:34 PM on December 23, 2021 [9 favorites]

Things I liked:

- 1st act, metacommentary, remixing and engagement with its own place in pop-culture.
- Bringing AI characters into the real world.
- The Analyst as an antagonist and his methods of emotional manipulation, gaslighting, and so forth. I really would have liked to see more of the film engage with that in interesting ways instead doing more action sequences.
- Themes around consent, bodily autonomy, the corrupting influences of capitalism, etc are pretty interesting for a big budget blockbuster.

Things I didn't like:

- Too long. Plenty of things that could have been edited out.
- Undermines its own stakes, jacking in and out was never very clear, trinity heist makes less sense the more you think about it.
- Found family and other queer themes from earlier movies seems to have been sidestepped. Honestly, felt a little sterile emotionally with these missing.
- Visually disappointing considering both the Wachowski's body of work and The Matrix's role in blockbuster and action movie history.
- A little too much retreading of the previous films, especially in the middle.

Things I expected/wanted while watching that didn't materialize:

- Agent Smith entering the non-virtual world as a sentient machine. I was certain things would go in this direction after new-morpheus and we learned about the changes to Smith's character.
- I expected a unification of Neo and Trinity. Like an actual fusing of some kind and not the whole power of love thing we ended up with. This seemed like an interesting place to go after the Analyst's revelations and how transformation comes up so often in this franchise.
- A rebranding of the machines in reality to reflect their new, more intellectually and emotionally seductive mode of operation.

All said, I enjoyed it more than Matrix 3, but not more than Matrix 1. I think I probably liked it more than Matrix 2 as well, but I think that could go either way depending on my mood. I do think it is smarter than some people are giving it credit for, it just isn't smart in the same ways as the original. As usual with a Wachowskis (I recognize this was Lana only) I appreciate that they always try to do something a little different with the blockbuster format even if it never gets all the way to greatness.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 3:36 PM on December 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

i loved it

but i have a whole read of The Matrix where Trinity is future Neo coming back to help him transition into herself, which makes this movie a sort of detransitioning trying to find the strength to return and continue
posted by kokaku at 5:54 PM on December 23, 2021 [13 favorites]

I need to rewatch to be sure but I don't think Neo picks up a gun once in the entire movie.

Can confirm based on my one viewing as well. It's why i find the feminine (not necessarily feminist) reading of the movie so fitting: their powers this time being more defensive; Neo especially whose whole purpose isn't even to liberate the world or himself, but Trinity; Niobe leading Io; Bugs actually being the main story driver and actual Main Character; who between the two actually got the final monologue against the Analyst; the entire leaning in of the AI bad guys into incel and our-red-pill cliches.

I can see a much straighter line of connection to this from Jupiter Ascending quite honestly, and I'd argue that if Matrix represented the era when the Wachowskis wasn't yet fully out there living as women (and with that presenting Neo as main both as compromise with themselves and the studio) and JA was when they were and could finally lean in to their girlish fantasies of love and who's the real protagonist, then even from that angle there's a story correction from them (well, Lana in this case).
posted by cendawanita at 6:07 PM on December 23, 2021 [5 favorites]

I felt it was a smart missile aimed directly at old millennials who are comfortable after a decade+ working in tech and as a member of one such couple, we both felt it as a palpable hit. One of our first dates was in cosplay to see Revolutions; this was just a trip to watch in our big suburban house. Just a real indictment of our comfortable little microgeneration. I was like "I bet this is what boomers feel like when they watch movies about the 60s, huh?" when it was over. Just - god, were we ever so young? To see those movies through those eyes, and to revisit them through these eyes? I'm not even being a little articulate about this, but hopefully, as the prophets say, 90s kids will understand.

But oof, if you come to the Matrix for inventive, tightly choreographed action sequences I bet it was a grave disappointment. Luckily what I like is semicoherent, twisty pop philosophy and cultural metacommentary and I felt I definitely got my money's worth.
posted by potrzebie at 1:01 AM on December 24, 2021 [20 favorites]

True to the spirit of the original trilogy! In the sense that it started off with a fun premise and then devolved into incoherent CGI fight scenes.

I want to see the "blue pill" cut where Thomas Anderson really is just an aging programmer struggling to understand what's real.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 1:34 AM on December 24, 2021 [12 favorites]

I want to see the "blue pill" cut where Thomas Anderson really is just an aging programmer struggling to understand what's real.

I didn't examine too closely why I was avoiding spoilers but reading this made me realize I was hoping this would be the movie, on some level, and I wanted to be surprised if it was. That would have been just god-tier trolling, jeez
posted by potrzebie at 8:36 AM on December 24, 2021 [8 favorites]

Also the actor playing Chad was also named Chad

I really loved this movie
posted by potrzebie at 8:42 AM on December 24, 2021 [5 favorites]

Also the actor playing Chad was also named Chad
Not just Chad. Chad Stahelski, the director of the John Wick franchise and Keanu's stunt double in the original The Matrix.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 12:45 PM on December 24, 2021 [25 favorites]

OMG, forbiddencabinet, thank you for that additional context! That's even better!
posted by potrzebie at 1:52 PM on December 24, 2021 [2 favorites]

If I enjoy a film ironically because the director so clearly did, is it still ironic?
posted by flabdablet at 6:27 PM on December 24, 2021 [3 favorites]

And I did enjoy it, even though most of the fight scenes were pretty much the exact kind of gratuitous-action filler that the focus group in the early scene had identified as essential to the success of any modern blockbuster. Or perhaps because of that. Hard to say. Either way, I'd watch this again ahead of anything from the MCU.
posted by flabdablet at 6:34 PM on December 24, 2021

I feel like now I need to watch Adaptation and Gremlins 2 just to round out the meta weirdo movie trifecta
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:49 PM on December 24, 2021 [5 favorites]

All three Matrix sequels have the same problem which is that a lot of their running time takes place outside of the Matrix. We love the wild costumes and kung fu wire fight scenes in the hyperreal environment of the Matrix. The stuff outside the Matrix — the war between the post-apocalyptic remnants of humanity in their earth tone sweatshirts against the CGI robots — isn’t nearly as interesting or fun.
posted by chrchr at 7:45 PM on December 24, 2021 [9 favorites]

I thought the film hammered on the metacommentary too much -- literally they could've cut 20 minutes and the only difference would've been a trimmer movie that still had a lot to say about itself -- but I will also admit to genuinely giggling through Merovingian's ranting about how Neo's last escapades destroyed culture, so. The self-indulgent first act does offer its own defense: WB was going to do this one way or another because enough of you people wanted it, so eat your cake and shut up about it, goddammit.

I'm glad they cut way back on the CGI fights that looked like video game cutscenes. (Those were truly the worst part of Matrix 2, which I otherwise enjoyed.) I also liked the zombie swarm at the end. Program!Morpheus was a delight, and extracting him was a great hook into how things had changed since the original movies. know I am mostly immune to the nostalgia stuff here, but when Carrie Ann Moss's voice dropped an octave and she became Trinity again, that was pretty good for me. I love her.
posted by grandiloquiet at 5:22 AM on December 25, 2021 [3 favorites]

On a basic level, this movie was flat out painful to watch in some aspects:

1. The first aspect was a mess of dialogue that somehow out-talked the talky original sequels of the trilogy - perhaps ubiquitous subtitles in streaming has ruined my verbal comprehension, but I could not grasp much of it. Everyone was speaking very quickly and very much and this film just did not give enough time to digest the info-dumps between them. Poor pacing.

The final mission had a whole lot of exposition that was impossible to follow and didn't matter anyway. At least the confusing climactic mission in Reloaded threw in a twist by having one of the teams fail along the way, quite tensely.

2. The action was flat out filmed very, very badly. The train fight scene was a mess to watch. This movie straight up resurrects shaky-cam in some scenes. When at first we had Agent Morpheus take the red pill and the action starts shaking in the white hallway it looked cool- it was much less so the many many times they shook things up after. The Lake House fight (haha nice intertextuality, I get it) looked so cheap and CGI-drenched compared to the original dojo fight. The final climax was just a mess of darkly lit CGI.

Yuen Woo-ping doesn't seem to be retired (his latest film, Ip Man 4, came out in 2019) - they couldn't get him to do the fight choreography again?

3. On a social level, how it handled mental illness just seems flat out problematic. Remember when "Kid's Story" from the Animatrix was criticized as glamorizing suicide? This movie takes that implicit act and makes it explicit, and throws in the additional act of the Matrix horrifically forcing people to do the same. Were it in a more serious movie, perhaps it would've worked, but this is a movie with cringy lines like "all the bad" and fist-bumping a J.J. Abrams Star Wars sequel CGI robot creature. Then we see the Resistance gun down a horde of regular people like they were zombies. Bad taste all around.

I don't believe pointing out how meta things are excuses the poor or confusing writing in this movie, or how the characters somehow feel like less of characters than the ones in the previous movies, or how the film had to splice in flashback scenes every five minutes to make its point. It's trying to Dan Harmon itself out and we, as an audience made jaded by the past two decades, do not have to let it have any cake. There is neither cleverness nor art to its sophistry.

One final note: perhaps the true meta twist is how a movie whose main plot conceit is that breaking an unbreakable pairing causes a system go out of whack, is itself broken by the dissolution of the partnership that had made the prior movies work better than this one. I hesitate to ascribe to Lilly ability over Lana, but I would guess that collaboration together made those movies work in a way better than this one. The original sequels, for all of their ponderous, overly-cryptic writing, and other flaws, did not give me a headache.
posted by Apocryphon at 8:08 PM on December 25, 2021 [12 favorites]

The stuff outside the Matrix — the war between the post-apocalyptic remnants of humanity in their earth tone sweatshirts against the CGI robots — isn’t nearly as interesting or fun.

I had the opposite reaction. I thought the Real World stuff was handled quite deftly in this one. Having Machines be potential allies was a natural continuation of how the final movie ended, and a faint echo of that one Animatrix short most people didn't like ("Matriculated", made by Æon Flux's Peter Chung) that featured people trying to convert captured Sentinels in their own side. Come to think of it, an interesting final twist could've featured the Neo and Trinity unbreakable unconvincing (in the previous movies at least, I thought their romance was okay and less flat in this one) love relationship Force Dyad trapping the Analyst and/or Smith (just what is his deal in this movie, are they trying to set up room for sequels?) in a Matrix of their creation in a reversal of fortune.

I really liked Sequoia, or Seek/Seq, the new operator. It shows how the outside world has progressed and now they're able to insert VR avatars of the operators to participate in the missions as well. I liked the character design overall, complete with the HUD eyepiece. Very Colonial Marines chic.

I thought the brief glimpses we got of Io were neat, though the name lacks the same promised land connotations of the original- are they implying that this franchise, too, has been transformed into a lesser state?

Overall it's probably because the scenes in the Matrix in this one were so arbitrary and confusingly-established that the Real World at least felt more grounded and easier to follow.
posted by Apocryphon at 8:42 PM on December 25, 2021 [4 favorites]

Darkly chuckling at the review a few above saying we watched it at home.

Then I got my money’s worth.

Indeed. (If you did in fact sub to HBO for one month to watch the matrix, I stand corrected, but my programming puts that at 0.003% probability.)
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 10:14 PM on December 25, 2021

It was nice for this movie to include a scene on a bullet train in Japan as a nod to a better Matrix sequel, Inception
posted by Apocryphon at 12:23 AM on December 26, 2021 [6 favorites]

I just got back from watching it, and I enjoyed it. It seemed like an interesting and plausible continuation. The idea of sentients choosing to seek out and live with humans, and that the second war was between machine factions. The idea of the Analyst who uses emotions and feelings to build a better mousetrap than the Architect (who disdained them, to his failure) seemed, again, like a believable extension of the original, almost on par with how, in the terminator films, the threat of Skynet evolved from film to film alongside real world technology (and this is where Terminator 3 has the best, most believable skynet).

The action was much less ooh and ah, and yeah, it was disappointing to go from the fights like the building lobby (where Trinity and Neo each get moments of clear focus on them as if they are the only character in the world, seen again in Reloaded in the coat check room fight. Here, the fights were muddied, and the camera work sloppy, and mostly without any actual weight or tension: no one died, where the first three movies are littered with bodies.

But, and this is making a lot of assumptions, I think that’s part of the point: it feels like a directorial choice to not kill off newly introduced characters just to provide dramatic tension. It’s such a common thing, and this, to me, seemed like a conscious choice to avoid “fridging” characters for cheap stakes raising. Past that, putting less focus on the physical violence again seems like a choice (it still shouldn’t have looked as sloppy/meh, though). The Analyst’s violence is not physical, it’s emotional and mental, and Neo has to understand that in order to fight back. Even the “bullettime” the Analyst uses shows that physical force is a dead end for Neo. That all seems like a conscious choice, as well as something that seems like a logical continuation of the machine world.

Even the Analyst still running things instead of there being a reset, with his explanation that he could run things better than anyone else fits in with, well, our world, where terrible people are allowed to continue their terribleness because they can convince the people who continue to employ them that their value outweighs their transgressions.

More than anything, I was struck by how the film allows, even centers how Reeves and Moss have aged, and are still beautiful, not in spite of wrinkles, but because of them. It felt, again, like a conscious choice to present them as they were, especially in the “real world” reunion. Granted, there’s a difference between wealthy megastars with access to the best care and personal trainers that money can buy and the rest of us, but even down to highlighting the fuzziness of Moss’ cheek in the sunlight, it just seemed so beautiful, and again, a solid choice to center that in a way I haven’t seen in recent memory.

As the credits were running, I realized I enjoyed the movie, and it was, to me, a solid extension of the original idea, and done well enough to be a positive part of the series. I caught myself wishing that the last Star Wars trilogy had been made with even half of the care and understanding of their source as Resurrections was.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:39 AM on December 26, 2021 [18 favorites]

It occurs to me that if you enjoyed the first two sequels, you'll probably enjoy this one and visa versa.

For me, unfortunately, I felt like the first third of this film was a cringey attempt at distancing itself from its legacy and then the final 2/3rds were an uninspired and muddy version of that legacy. There was something just so magical about the action sequences of the original Matrix, the combination of crisp and dynamic martial arts/wire work and new VFX that the bar was set very high, and the other films just couldn't compete. Just having a character say "We need a new bullet time" in the first act but then attempt to make a compelling action film but fail is just embarrassing. I happened to watch a bit of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings the day before and the bus scene from that movie shows that with enough care Hollywood can still make incredibly thrilling and complex action sequences.

As for the worldbuilding, I distinctly remember that my suspension of disbelief lasted exactly as long as the first film such that the movie lived in a perfectly brilliant little narrative universe in my mind. Dragging it out over all these films just dilutes the original vision for me.
posted by gwint at 11:23 AM on December 26, 2021 [4 favorites]

It was nice for this movie to include a scene on a bullet train in Japan as a nod to a better Matrix sequel, Inception

Do you consider it's a sequel by virtue of the tech and the action? If by philosophy or worldview I personally rate that movie as an opposite to the Matrix. It's too rigid and comprehensible, even with the final feint towards ~uncertainty~, lol.
posted by cendawanita at 5:50 PM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Do you consider it's a sequel by virtue of the tech and the action?

Inception is pretty much an analog version of the Matrix when it comes to common themes of simulated realities, induced hallucinations, questioning perception. Beyond the action it had the same trappings of shadowy megacorporations, heists undertaken by specialized teams of gun-toting fashionistas, use of retro-looking sets (both have hotels!), malignant anomalies with minds of their own. Close enough.

It’s a Matrix movie the same way Dark City and The Thirteenth Floor or The Truman Show all are, though those might actually predate the Matrix. I haven’t seen them yet but Vanilla Sky and The Adjustment Bureau are both probably Matrix films. And of course, Inception for all of its common superficial trappings is close in resemblance to the original Matrix, especially the well-directed action.
posted by Apocryphon at 6:03 PM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Ah yes, I see what you mean. The superficial similarities (both in plot elements and aesthetics) aren't convincing enough for me personally, but mainly it's because I don't consider Nolan to be any particularly great thinker of movie philosophy. He's only slightly above Goyer, just a better filmmaker. Ok, I'm being too harsh, I just find him the kind to tiresomely make everything 'logical', but I suppose it takes all kinds.

But regardless if I am to be more objective, I find that while they share an interest in advancing moviemaking technology, he's more retrograde in his... uh, nostalgia, i guess. If there's anything I can say about the Wachowski's output it's extremely not that, forward-looking sometimes to their detriment (I'm just thinking of Cloud Atlas this week). I just find him quite opposite to what the Wachowskis were doing (and honestly, as the years went on, this has only become clearer). The 'cool' stuff is even utilised differently, imo. Dark City is closer in worldview for sure though. Now that you mentioned Adjustment Bureau, I would say also yes, but tbh that's because if anything it's a modern update to Dark City, and actually this outing of the Matrix.
posted by cendawanita at 6:24 PM on December 26, 2021 [3 favorites]

Looks like director Alex Proyas admits that there may have been direct influence in visual design from Dark City onto The Matrix due to an overlapping producer and even the latter reusing a set from the former.
posted by Apocryphon at 8:27 PM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Hated the first third, the tone was all wrong, and there was too much self referencing, didn't work at all for me. Also that song was already inflicted on us in the trailer, hard pass.

The remaining 2/3 was ok, but just ok for me. I liked that it revolved around the link between Neo & Trinity. The new bullet time was not good and again what's with explanation and self-referencing? I wouldn't have minded a more developed heist that would have had tension that they seem unable to generate anymore with the action scenes going on inside the matrix.

Also you wait for Hugo Weaving if he's not available that was a lost. And even though there's a better explanation for Yougpheus, it could have been any program Neo developed/trained, no need to link it to Morpheus, that just pulled me out of the movie because I kept thinking it was a missed opportunity. And I know he died in the Matrix Online, but that project was a huge failure that reached a very low number of people, so nobody would mind if they just ignored it.

It continued the long tradition of the Wachowski(s?) of not understanding computers or how games are actually produced/designed. Well I'm not even sure they get movies either, they hit a homerun with all the bases loaded with the first one, but they really pulled a Tarantino and lifted a bunch of cyberpunk/PKD/hongkong/anime references before everybody else and put them in a movie that was very well crafted for the time, but the fact that given enormous resources and liberty, they never really delivered anything close to that again leads me to doubt how deliberate that success was.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 9:37 PM on December 26, 2021 [5 favorites]

I thought the self-referential stuff in this movie worked a lot better than I would have expected had somebody described it to me.

I thought the nuts and bolts action movie making was oddly poor in parts. Felt low-budget and it wasn't, really? I guess probably partly a result of the pandemic getting in the way.

The Neo/Trinity story was sufficiently emotionally compelling but the plot scaffolding that's supposed to be built around that barely held together so it kinda felt like all these other characters were also just Matrix fans watching the movie wanting to see them get back together. I suppose that's explicit, on some level, and also part of the meta layer of the film, but it feels like it's missing the diegetic layer that would make things feel like they actually make sense.

Also you wait for Hugo Weaving if he's not available that was a lost

Yeah, replacement Smith really did not do it for me at all. New Morpheus was not Fishburne but he was alright. Neil Patrick Harris did a pretty decent antagonist. I did not know he was in it and was rather surprised to see him.
posted by atoxyl at 1:27 AM on December 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

it kinda felt like all these other characters were also just Matrix fans watching the movie wanting to see them get back together

I'd say that's true of Trinity as well, who doesn't join her own story until 1:53 in a 2:16 film, despite being 50% of the team that saves the world. And while Bugs and Morpheus get a little bit more development than the rest of the new crew, they don't get much. Both start out really promising, with hints of an amazing backstory that's never explored at all, and then Morpheus fades into the background as a faceless bunch of pebbles for the last hour and Bugs gets a quick "rebel pilot" arc and lots of punching and kicking. Disappointing to not get even a 3-min flashback to how Morpheus broke out of Thomas' simulation, but maybe they're saving that for the animated sequel.
posted by mediareport at 6:03 AM on December 27, 2021 [5 favorites]

(oh and to mediareport above -- there *is* queer representation in the Zion orgy scene, albeit murky due to lightning and cinematographic choices, which are probably partially studio-interference-avoidance or otherwise intentional, but still I definitely saw it in a couple shots)

Forgive me, it's nearly 2 decades since I pored over the DVD, probably very high on something or other, but in an appropriate fit of nostalgia I just watched the Reloaded Zion orgy scene again (and again, and As an unashamed geriatric raver (even then - I mean, I *was* over 30), I adored that joyous, human scene in the theater. A quick recap:

26:32: Morpheus gives his marvelous "Tonight let us shake this cave! This is Zion and we are not afraid!" speech, which still gives me chills for its assertion of fiercely fighting humanity.

28:32: Trinity feels Neo's boner through his pants and hustles him off for private fucking

29:11: Close-up on Link and his female partner as 3 women dance, close and sexy in a line behind them. Ok, that's lesbian representation in the background, but it's very male-gazey.

30:23: two guys and a girl dancing center screen seen from a distance in the crowd, the guys mirroring each other's movements but no physical contact. Nope, does not count as queer representation, esp.when you consider the sheer number of slow-mo close-ups of hetero couples really grinding on each other throughout the scene.

30:37: three women (or 2 women and a guy?) seriously grinding, one woman with her tits visible through a wet t-shirt. Very male-gazey.

31.32: maybe the same thruple as above, but clearly 2 women grinding, again with one's tits visible.

I know people will laugh at me for this, but it was really disappointing at the time, and this movie's brief, easily-deniable-in-foreign-markets queer moments don't help. At no point in the Zion orgy scene in Reloaded is there any male-male interaction with physical contact that I could find. While there are multiple close-up slo-mo shots of hetero couples grinding on each other, at no point are there any close-ups of a female couple at the front of the screen without tits showing. This concludes my TED talk.
posted by mediareport at 6:43 AM on December 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

I have other criticisms as well, but the movie really lost me when they neutered Trinity by making her a mom. I wasn't rooting for team "we've got to get this mom to abandon her children because moms can't be badass."
posted by prefpara at 6:53 AM on December 27, 2021 [7 favorites]

Wow, prefpara, that's a great point I hadn't thought of. There are so many other ways that could have been done, like, I dunno, Trinity helping wake up her kids. That could have been really neat.
posted by mediareport at 8:44 AM on December 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

My feeling is that a Venn diagram would show considerable overlap between the "I regularly play immersive video games" circle and the "I really enjoyed this particular film" circle.

This isn't a dismissive "It was like a video game!" take, btw. I'm saying I think the film would naturally resonate more with people who can relate to alterate wide versions of themselves, etc.

Our kid, who (thanks, pandemic!) gets much of their non-familial human interaction riffed enthusiastically and extemporaneously on all of the various connections they felt personally.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:46 AM on December 27, 2021

Author Chuck Wendig had some good thoughts about this movie.

It's an interesting and thought provoking movie but not altogether a good movie (thought it has many very good parts).

Watched it last night and I found myself dreaming about it. So there's something there to chew on.
posted by device55 at 10:36 AM on December 27, 2021

Watched it last night and I found myself dreaming about it. So there's something there to chew on.

I’ve caught myself paying more attention to flocks of birds wheeling in the sky. There’s stuff from this movie that will linger with me. Am I in a rush to see it again? No, not really, but I am happy that I have seen it, and enjoyed it maybe more for what was attempted than what was actually accomplished, if that makes any sense.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:56 PM on December 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

I'm surprised it gets as much positive reviews as it does. I thought it was pretty bad on so many levels. Many of the same complaints from others above but the biggest complaint I have is I could not make out what hardly any of the motivation for most of the characters was. I mean what was the new Smith trying to do? Or the analyst and all the silly exposition? Granted I walked out before it ended so maybe there was a big info dump in the end (which woould have just dissapointed me more). But I just couldn't be bothered.

Keanu and Carrie-Ann have good chemistry. They could have done a lot more with that. I am a big fan of the original but not so much the sequels. Sometimes I wonder if a good producer or the much maligned studio notes actually helped keep the Wachowski's focused on what a good movie is in the orgingal. Or maybe it was just lightning in a bottle thing.
posted by Justin Case at 3:41 PM on December 27, 2021 [4 favorites]

I've heard two "origin stories" for this film - the first was a quote from an interview with Lana Wachowski, who said that part of why she did this film was because she was grieving the death of her parents. She couldn't bring her parents back to life, of course, but she could bring back Trinity and Neo, and that helped.

However, I've also heard another "origin story" which gets alluded to in the film - that the studio was prepared to go ahead and do a sequel anyway, whether or not Lana Wachowski was involved, and she just thought "ugh, I'd better sign on to be part of this because if I'm not around and they do it without me they are very likely going to really fuck things up". Like, she hadn't really wanted to do it, but that it was going to happen anyway, so she joined to keep it from being a shit-show.

And when I saw it, I kind of felt like I could see both stories get verified; Neo and Trinity are more fully "brought back to life", and the rest of the film was just giving them a box to play in. It wasn't a bad box, but everything about it was still very much just a supporting element.

I also was doing a lot of spot-the-Sense8-actors. (Yay Bug!)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:28 AM on December 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

My thoughts mirror what a lot of people have already said, but like this movie you're gonna hear it all anyway.

- The first act was the strongest. The metacommentary was really on point, Neo being gaslit into thinking his memories were a delusion was great. A more bold visionary would have made all the Matrix flashbacks look like early 2000s video game cutscenes and gameplay (the ones that don't look like cutscenes already, that is). They even had The Path of Neo, a literal real-world video game version of The Matrix, the actual game that the fictional game purported to be. The Analyst as gaslighting antagonist was nice too, even if his "bullet time" was not.

- The new Smith was bad. Ian Bliss (Bane from the earlier sequels) did a much more convincing Hugo Weaving impression, and nothing of new Smith's motivations made sense. Old Smith wanted out, then he wanted the Matrix and humanity destroyed. What did New Smith want? Neo dead? Why? The Analyst dead? Why? And why, for that matter, even include New Smith in Neo's new cage? Smith's whole deal was that he massively destabilized the Matrix, they needed a better reason to include him in Neo and Trinity's Yearning Engine.

- Trinity deserved more. This was a story told from Neo's perspective, but that's not a unbreakable rule. We can't get even one scene of her side of things? Her as a wine mom, her taking blue pills? Her with carefully crafted life distractions appearing every time a glimmer of her old self emerges?

- I've seen multiple people say this movie gives the middle finger to what "redpill" has come to mean in our culture and I didn't see that at all? In fact, the way they made Twitter Bots a literal threat in the Matrix seems like a step in the exact opposite direction. Watching people we think are real turn into mindless zombies fit to throw themselves at our heroes and be killed remorselessly is just terrible. Making the argument that we're surrounded by people that only exist to hold us back and can be killed freely is... Not great.

- I liked the real world world-building in this better than the earlier sequels. Io seems like a place worth protecting more than Zion ever did, real-world machines working together with real-world people was a welcome development. We get so little of what Machine society is like, and I think it's fair that their existence should be alien and incomprehensible to us. Still, it makes sense that at least some portion of them would decide they'd rather live with humans.

- Even including the Merovingian, especially in the way they did here, was weird. He was the leader of a faction of programs who liked the matrix and lived there in exile from the machine world, and someone who had experienced and lived through every previous iteration of The One. Now he's a bum in tattered rags?

- I lost the thread of Trinity's rescue after Morpheus got in and opened the way for everyone else. Sentinels are guarding the outside but the interior is completely empty and devoid of sentries? They unplug Trinity and get her out before The Analyst decides things have gone too far, but nobody notices that while her mind is still there her body has been moved? Really it comes back to the sentiment that the way people get in and out of the matrix has been muddied. The originals had very clear stakes, now using mirrors instead of phones is more Alice in Wonderlandy but loses a the fun cyberpunk vibes of land lines.

- New Morpheus didn't really work either. "half Morpheus half Agent" is a fun concept that was never delivered on. Having Neo freed by a program he modeled after the man who freed him was nice, but calling him Morpheus seems... blasphemous. If they had brought out Not Trinity from the Modal would she have been allowed to call herself Trinity still? It would have been nice if he had been humble enough to say no I'm not really Morpheus but I will try to live up to his memory.

- Trinity also being The One (Another One? The Two?) was nice, I think. It was always the two of them together that made Neo who he was, letting her explicitly share in his power just makes her less of a carefully disguised damsel in distress.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:51 AM on December 28, 2021 [14 favorites]

Twitter Bots

Interesting take, when I heard bots I automatically thought of bots in FPS multiplayer games. Which are basically “AI” players.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 8:37 AM on December 28, 2021

Of all the action bits the scene where the bots start throwing themselves out of windows got to me, though, thinking about how horrifying that would be if you were in that world and thought those people were people.
posted by atoxyl at 9:31 AM on December 28, 2021 [6 favorites]

Interesting take, when I heard bots I automatically thought of bots in FPS multiplayer games. Which are basically “AI” players.

Yeah, they were clearly going for more of an "NPC" thing which is also an unfortunately loaded term. The thing is, bots in Fortnite don't pretend to be your husband until one night they hurl themselves out your window to impact on some guy's car hood.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 10:10 AM on December 28, 2021

I'm pretty surprised at the response both by critics and here. I thought the last third of the movie was abominable, and the scenes of them just murdering mobs of people (bots) and having them jump out of buildings was particularly tasteless. And pointless, too- how was the movie better for having had that whole chase scene?
posted by thewumpusisdead at 3:27 PM on December 28, 2021 [5 favorites]

this was incredible. I am a sucker for "Yeah, I know, I feel the same way" content right now, I guess. Taking it at face value, it touched my heart and made me tear up at several scenes. Also I quite enjoyed the plotting in the first third of the video.
posted by rebent at 4:09 PM on December 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

Huh. Googling around after seeing this, I discovered that Carrie-Ann Moss is running a lifestyle empowerment thing - I guess Gwyneth isn't the only actress leveraging the 'woo' market.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:15 PM on December 28, 2021

Watching people we think are real turn into mindless zombies fit to throw themselves at our heroes and be killed remorselessly is just terrible.

Anybody who has seen a hitherto apparently sane friend or relative captured by the anti-vax and mandates-are-tyranny death cult agrees.

Making the argument that we're surrounded by people that only exist to hold us back and can be killed freely is... Not great.

It's also an argument made every minute of every day by conservative leaders worldwide, so there's that. Art reflects life.
posted by flabdablet at 6:15 PM on December 28, 2021 [5 favorites]

A lot of the movie worked for me, but I'm glad I didn't spend the effort to see it in a theater.

The thing is, bots in Fortnite don't pretend to be your husband until one night they hurl themselves out your window to impact on some guy's car hood.

Not to yammer on about this more than necessary, but: there's a whole thing in Twitter where people who post dumb stuff get called "bots"- anyone who jumps into a liberal Twitter thread with some dumb MAGA talking point gets called a "bot". But of course, they are people, most of the time.

This film's theory seems to be that in the new Matrix, those people who annoy the shit out of us and limit our potential actually are bots, not just people who have been stunted by the reality created by the Analyst. They aren't just metaphorically programmed to be shitty- they're literally handler programs.

This is cheating, philosophy-wise. The whole "can we make choices or are they chosen for us?" stuff- well, 30% of your friends and neighbors in the Matrix don't have choices at all, they're just programs. They can't ever choose the red pill. I don't love the airing out of the idea that some people might not be real.

The density of Sense8 actors didn't help the feeling of made-for-TV. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's nice to see them have a little reunion but it was weirdly distracting.

(also: imho the movie as close to said that the One is both of them, together. Which works for me!)
posted by BungaDunga at 9:28 PM on December 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

Honestly I’m cool with “the One is actually both Neo and Trinity together” as a further subversion of the original “the One is just an inevitable statistical outlier” subversion. I kind of like that idea.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:46 AM on December 30, 2021 [5 favorites]

Interview in Vulture with David Mitchell about the Matrix.
posted by jouke at 8:52 AM on December 30, 2021

It was having a scene where a man wakes up in bed with his wife next to him and his eyes change and the Matrix is weaponizing him. The machine weaponizes individuals. It wasn’t that he was a secret bomb all along. He was a human being.

Ah. So the "bots" in that scene are just people who are zombified by the Analyst, not handlers. Weird for the characters to call them "bots" and cheerfully shoot them, but understandable I guess. Doesn't explain why is it only some people and not everyone though!
posted by BungaDunga at 11:24 AM on December 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Question: was neo trapped in *the* matrix, or in a private matrix populated only by bots, spun up by the analyst?
posted by rebent at 11:30 AM on December 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Question: was neo trapped in *the* matrix, or in a private matrix populated only by bots, spun up by the analyst?

I think the latter, it sounded like the repeated emphasis on private modals & fractured subnets & keeping them on an isolated resurrection tower was pointing that way.

That said, I'm not 100% confident, so there's still room for ambiguity.
posted by CrystalDave at 12:13 PM on December 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think he was in the same Matrix as everyone else:

1- Bugs is a person, and she woke up after seeing him step off a building.
2- The "bots" turned against them in the final fight are (per Mitchell) people, not programs.
3- When he asked why they couldn't find him, since he was working for a huge game company: his identifying features had been scrubbed and he didn't register as "Thomas Anderson" as far as the Matrix was concerned, and didn't even look like T. A. to anyone but himself. They didn't bring up a sub-Matrix.

I think my favorite detail in the movie is the nu-Morpheus program. Neo built a Morpheus entity in a videogame that gained sentience, hacked its way out of the videogame into the Matrix, and then got out of the Matrix into reality. So Neo- subconsciously?- hacked the Matrix by doing normal computer hacking. That's very cool. Of course that's how his various in-Matrix powers are explained- he's, like, hacking with his mind, man- but in this case he literally sat down and wrote a bunch of computer code that ended up hacking his reality.
posted by BungaDunga at 2:55 PM on December 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Keanu Reeves Says ‘The Matrix Resurrections’ Team ‘Barely Rehearsed, If at All’ While Filming - IndieWire
As EW reports: “Reeves remembers that on the original trilogy, [Wachowski] was ‘more behind the monitor’ but ‘still hands-on.’ With ‘Resurrections,’ she was ‘participating more with the movement of the camera, and more interested in doing than rehearsing.’ It was less about prep and more about everyone’s readiness to find the unexpected in the moment. Reeves confesses they ‘barely rehearsed, if at all.'”

“Filming on the fly” is how new “Matrix” star Neil Patrick Harris described Wachowski’s directing style. Speaking to Variety earlier this year, Harris said, “[The production] didn’t feel large because it felt like she was in her sweet spot, which was filming on the fly, filming using natural light. Sometimes you’d sit around for an hour waiting for the clouds to clear, and then you’d quickly film…You’d film pages at a time in 30 minutes and then be done. You would think that a giant movie would be 100 percent storyboarded, animatics, and we’d be checking off shots. I think she lived that before three times over, and I would suspect that she wants to do things her own way now.”
Déjà Vu All Over Again - The Baffler
Perhaps there’s something modestly clever in the major meta-gesture of this newest Matrix—in its idea of the matrix reproducing its own destruction in the form of an interactive video game. After all, the notion that the very systems that delude us offer self-contained safe spaces for relieving those delusions is apt. Like capital, the matrix survives by evolving quicker than the forces that oppose it. If we take this message seriously, then the goodly thing to do is to ignore The Matrix Resurrections and all corporatized entertainments. To put down Twitter and TikTok and smooch our spouses; build a snowman with the kiddies; clink some beers with a gaggle of good buddies.
The Timeline We’re On Is Even Darker Than ‘The Matrix’ Envisioned - The New York Times
“The Matrix” also contained dreams of a better internet than our own. The eponymous computer simulation is a sinister mechanism of control, imposed upon humans to harness their energy. But after the simulation is seen as a construction (enabled by swallowing the “red pill”), people have the power to plug back in and traverse it as a truer version of themselves.

This is where a sense of nostalgia haunts a rewatching of “The Matrix”: not for the 1999 it depicts, but for the future — and the internet — it suggested could exist. It’s “a world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries, a world where anything is possible,” Neo (the main character, played by Mr. Reeves) declares at the end of the first film.

Dominated by a handful of mega-corporations, today’s digital sphere seems more in line with the machines’ coercive operation than the dreams of Neo and his band of rebels. The internet now stands as a vast web designed to capture our tastes, attention and patterns of thought, and to push them along profit-making lines. The goal is not a world where anything is possible — but a world where everything is predictable and purchasable.
The Matrix Resurrections Pitch Meeting - Screen Rant
"You see what they do is they take over a bunch of people and kind of turn them into zombies that just throw themselves at the good guys."

"So now the machines waste a bunch of batteries instead of just a few?"

"That's their new strategy, yeah."
posted by Apocryphon at 11:44 PM on December 30, 2021 [7 favorites]

Half in the Bag: The Matrix Resurrections. Mike: It's fascinating, I don't love or hate it.
posted by Pendragon at 1:16 PM on December 31, 2021 [4 favorites]

The more I think about this movie, well. Before it came out, I told friends I hoped it would be either very good, or bad in a fascinating way. Somehow, it was… both?
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:09 PM on December 31, 2021 [5 favorites]

> I want to see the "blue pill" cut where Thomas Anderson really is just an aging programmer struggling to understand what's real.

I almost expected Neo to come to, and pour his recent experiences into a game sequel.

On a rewatch, the people diving and splatting on the pavement was less scary than hilarious.

The soundtrack was specifically missing some Juno Reactor.

So, this Matrix was powered by cockblocking?
posted by Pronoiac at 12:04 AM on January 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

I did like this but it does still pale in comparison to the original which we watched last week. Keanu and Carrie Ann Moss are great as are Jonathan Groff and Neil Patrick Harris but the script is a bit of a mess and you never really understand the motivations of Groff's new Mr. Smith character. The action scenes are better than most films these days but still not as good as the set pieces in The Matrix.

One of the biggest quibbles I had was that the escape from the Matrix to the real world never seemed well explained. I understand that there's no land-lines left but how are they getting back? If it was explained, I missed it.
posted by octothorpe at 9:57 AM on January 1, 2022

I can't recall the why but the mechanics this time involve mirrors. Something about the surface enables those who are ready, to see the code. Basically a clear version of the reflective screens of our daily devices. The trace program's doesn't include a physical flushing down the pod but you'll get picked up by rogue synthients smuggling you out.
posted by cendawanita at 10:11 AM on January 1, 2022

It's wild that the co-writer said the "bots" were individuals weaponized by The Matrix because there is a scene where The Analyst straight up says the opposite of that, that they don't bother taking people over because it's easier to just run sleeper programs that switch on when needed.

Now, maybe the writer's using a very expansive definition of "human being" to include sentient programs that think they're human. Or maybe he intended them to be humans (aka "coppertops") but someone else wrote the scene where the Analyst says no they're not. Either way, it still undercuts the message that in the Matrix your opponent is rarely the system itself, instead it's the people who have fully bought into the system.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:28 PM on January 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

Actually now that I read it again it sounds like he's saying the guy just thought he was a human being until The Matrix flipped the switch, and either he wasn't very clear or whoever transcribed what he said for the interview didn't really understand what he was saying.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:39 PM on January 1, 2022

I thought it worked in all the ways the Star Wars sequels didn't. It centered the original characters, took them to unexpected and interesting places and deepened them without ever once making me say, "Bullshit, these people would never do that." It had brains, smarts and a surprising amount of heart. But I'll admit that I was puzzled by some rather fundamental aspects of the story. I've read the film's wiki page and a few other things and they haven't begun to untangle things for me, so I'll post my questions here and maybe some kind soul will be able to help me out.

OK, what is going on with the machine war? Like, yes, we see that there are friendly machines in Io, but then the surface still seems to be full of pods tended by the machines. There's talk of "sheeple" being eager to return to predictability, so did some people choose to return to their pods? Did the machines turn evil again and go back to using people as batteries, and the friendly machines are rebels? Is the Analyst working for the new machine bosses? It seems like he's in charge, but then I remember something about him having to answer to somebody else. What was the deal with the Merovingian? Was he deposed at the end of the previous machine war, and the new machine bosses have no place for him? Why was he ranting about the lost arts of conversation, film, etc.? Why did he think Neo eliminated that stuff?

A lot of people, including the authors of the film's wiki page, seem to believe that Trinity has been the true One all along or that she has control over the Matrix now and Neo doesn't. I don't really get that. I think Neo was definitely the One in the original trilogy, he was the Jesus figure in the big machine war, and now that original war is over (I think) and he and Trinity seem to share powers of roughly equal stature. He demonstrates his crazy force powers in this movie, and now Trinity can fly, and they talk about remaking the Matrix together. So either they are now the Two, or when they talk about "we" they might be including their friends in the real world. Maybe we're beyond the need for any One.

Despite my confusion it struck me as a very clever and intentional film, without being stiff or mannered. The filmmakers clearly had a lot to say, and I was impressed by how they packed it all in there while keeping the story moving. Even some of the things that I initially thought didn't work, like the after-credits gag about the Catrix thing, work better when I think about them a little. Like, they knew that a lot of people would be sitting there waiting for a Marvel-style tease at the end, to set up the next movie... and instead they trolled us with this totally silly thing. The Catrix by itself isn't that funny; the joke is in deflating our expectations that we'd get the Kid waking up in one of the pods, or some other Big Deal mythology moment to kick off another nine movies. I suspect the Wachowsis are done with the series, and Lana went out with a nose-tweak at the kind of franchise-building we've all come to expect.

I did wish they'd changed the color of the red pills, since that's been so horribly co-opted by misogynists. But in every other way it did feel like this movie was pushing back hard against the worst of its fandom. This is a movie that's very much in dialogue with its fans, and some of that stuff (like the mention of Neo as a trans allegory) made me dizzy in a fun way. Somebody someplace was saying that this movie will require a lot of careful dubbing to remove all the LGBT stuff and make the film acceptable to screen in certain countries. Various sources are even saying that Bugs is non-binary, although I didn't catch anything in the film that suggested that. If that was the intention I wish they'd made it a little clearer. Maybe somebody refers to the character as "they," and I missed it?

I was surprised that I didn't really miss Laurence Fishburne; Morpheus was critical to the original film but seemed to flounder a bit in the sequels, and it didn't seem so surprising that he'd be dead 60 years after the original films. But man, did I miss Hugo Weaving. The new guy was fine and they did establish long ago that Smith can look like anybody, but Weaving made the role iconic and it just felt weird for another actor to be playing the part.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:31 PM on January 1, 2022 [8 favorites]

Ok I'll try and take a crack at answering some of the plot stuff:

machine civil war & the Analyst
Somewhere in the movie's exposition (i think when Neo arrived in Io) they went into what happened when he properly died the first time, it's revealed that this peace brought the machines into internal conflict, between those who wanted to live with humans and those who wanted to continue farming them. In this uncertainty the Analyst (in a very middle management role, imo) proposed not a rebooting of the Matrix but piloting a new one that doesn't depend on the periodic conglomeration of anomalies that is The One who will agree to a hard reset ala the Architect's design which he argued was too cold and intellectual and why it was 'easy' for humans to reject it once gaining consciousness (unless you miss creature comforts like Cypher).

What Neo's love for Trinity introduced is a new element that underpins the Analyst's new Matrix, whose very success is also something the Analyst can shepherd but not create, which are feelings, specifically longing. There's handwavium at this point but also narratively why it was important the Analyst had to seduce (blackmail) Neo back, which is that his big pitch for this new Matrix project is that humans will want to return out of sentimental reasons (which honestly makes the bugs sub-plot even more terrifying in-story).

In remaking the Matrix the key guardian programs of the last version were basically reformatted/deleted unless they knew how to mask themselves, which is what happened to The Merovingian. Sati as well but she's more because her parents became turncoats once they discovered where the new Matrix is heading. (Now that I'm typing it all out it's interesting how clear to me it's creature comforts vs social relations in how each platform played as siren calls, as TM's big thing then and now is all about the luxuries this culture -specifically high culture- could provide and that now he lost)

Trinity as the One
I will admit that I don't myself see her as a conjoint The One in the main trilogy. If anything she was a Mary figure. But as a movie in active conversation with its fandom I do find this movie to be an active attempt to reclaim her agency in the original story, in that the even harder emphasis on love reads to me as well as making it clear that the 'gushy love stuff' isn't the boring non-pewpew stuff for the girls. I mean, the Wachowskis are 'the girls' (which is also why i find this movie connects more directly to Jupiter Ascending). Tangentially, not being trans I'm not equipped to also comment on the new Matrix providing Trinity with motherhood, suffice to say the tug-of-war she was explicitly talking about in the coffeeshop especially regarding if she wanted it because of social conditioning, I think comes from a more different place than a cis one, or at least Lana W is lampshading this is as much as she can and not necessarily unexamined patriarchy (You can't say the same with how she's interacted with non-white cultural influences though, suffice to say for me she's just Very 90s White Hippy, in that the universalism needs an update as she's basically in appropriation category but that's a harder convo to have).

Back to the movie, I think that's the reason the binary Matrix became a plot thing - this is really making explicit how important she is. How she's the one who can fly and have the final conversation with the Analyst I think makes the same point. Neo is yearning for something, I agree, hence the multiple suicides, but the Analyst's stood in for the typical fanboys here where he completely dismissed Trinity and thought he kept her quiet by making her a mother. She's had a much longer, deeper, and more thorough sense of dissatisfaction with her world. Arguably that's why she could immediately tap into the power to remake the world that this Neo (more successful, more idolized, more famous) couldn't.

Maybe this also represented a progression on how Lana (but maybe both of them) could now really tell a story with their actual stand-in character. Which sorta makes it interesting how they continue to codeswitch their queerness - on-screen lack of anything vs the queer number of talents in the cast and crew. Which by the way, i would say, has little to do with 'China' but America's own market. Fwiw, i noticed with Eternals, and this is not a win really, Disney discovered the way to go is not to make a big deal about their five seconds of whatever in the promo materials. That's what triggered the attention usually. In THAT movie, nothing about the queer couple was cut that wasn't the same with the het, which is the kissing, to the point i was actually surprised that was the movie with 'MCU's first love scene' as it was so thoroughly excised. But the queer couple's full emotional beat was maintained. Same with this one. That guy expressing his attraction to Neo, the entire bit survived. If Neo and Trinity kissed though, I can't recall.
posted by cendawanita at 12:44 AM on January 2, 2022 [4 favorites]

Author Hugh Howey (Wool) has an interesting take: A Singular Work of Genius.

I loved and hated the film in equal measure but am still thinking about it. I found the large scale fight sequences especially boring and incomprehensible! I wonder if the first half of the film got the lion's share of the resources in terms of time and money? Or it could have been by design as Howey's review suggests.
posted by Coaticass at 2:48 PM on January 2, 2022 [2 favorites]

Also: I'll have to warn my friend who lost someone to suicide years ago about all the suicide stuff before it ruins their evening.
posted by Coaticass at 2:52 PM on January 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

Or it could have been by design as Howey's review suggests.

Are we not entertained? Are we not entertained? Is this not why we are here?
posted by flabdablet at 3:22 PM on January 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

Having watched the Half In the Bag, I can see that my guess above is insanely wide of the mark, but at the same time I'm actually curious to see the film in a way that I wouldn't have been otherwise. Perhaps it will turn up on TV several Friday nights in a row at some point.
posted by Grangousier at 5:06 AM on January 3, 2022

I can't help believing that there must actually be Catrix videos out there...
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 6:35 AM on January 3, 2022

I mean, there was a story recently about the role cat videos play in legitimizing propaganda outlets and helping them build a following. If anything is The Catrix, it's that.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:44 AM on January 3, 2022 [2 favorites]

Mr.Encyclopedia, ow.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 5:11 PM on January 3, 2022

I really missed Hugo Weaving; my only major complaint, but apparently they just couldn’t get the schedules to work out. But that’s because he’s awesome, and to me he’s Smith.

You know, I like Hugo Weaving but the recast of Jonathan Groff as Agent Smith made total sense to me, because I felt in the "new" world, The Man would be way more likely to look like "The Bro," which Groff does. Weaving's clearly menacing villainy wouldn't have worked as well as Groff's sneaky likeability.

Also the actor playing Chad was also named Chad
Not just Chad. Chad Stahelski, the director of the John Wick franchise and Keanu's stunt double in the original The Matrix.

I loved this when I learned it and I also loved the fact that the guy who played Thomas Anderson's reflection in the mirror (old bald guy) is Carrie-Anne Moss's husband IRL.
posted by dlugoczaj at 11:52 AM on January 4, 2022 [8 favorites]

Are we voting? This movie didn't work for me.

My overall complaint is it has the same failed ambition of so many other Wachowski projects. Cloud Atlas, Jupiter Ascending, Sense8. I enjoyed all those works because they were so ambitious and interesting. They were also all flawed in significant ways, my overall summary would be "needed an external editor for the script". (Sometimes I wish Speed Racer had gotten the acclaim I think it deserved and they'd gone more in that direction for future films.) Anyway this new Matrix movie had the same sort of flaws IMHO, but then doubled down because it was an attempt to hew to an explicitly mainstream market and retelling one of the most loved stories in sci-fi movies. So it didn't even have the novelty and unique vision of the previous films.

Having the Sense8 cast reunion didn't really help this feeling, btw. The individual actors were all fine. But seeing them all together again made me feel like Wachowski is far too deep into her own personal world.

The thing that did work for me was seeing middle aged real-world Thomas and Tiffany. What would life have been like if they didn't actually break out of the Matrix? They both acted the part of exhausted disappointed people; successful but suffering ennui. Except.. I'm very uncomfortable with the first third's depiction of mental illness. "If I just ignore my therapist and stop taking my medication, this schizoid dissassociation I'm feeling will turn out to actually be true!" That was in the original Matrix too, so I guess I can't complain this is a new problem. It just seems terribly unhealthy.

Anyway that all reminded me of Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly, also starring Keanu Reeves. Strongly recommend watching it if you haven't, although content warning for mental illness. Also a great adaptation of a PK Dick novel and a highly original script and visual look, just all the kinds of excellence that I am complaining is lacking in the Wachowski projects I keep wanting to love.

It continued the long tradition of the Wachowski(s?) of not understanding computers or how games are actually produced/designed.

I was distracted through this whole movie about how it seemed to have been made for an audience ignorant of The Matrix Online. Guys, guys, there was a whole giant budget MMO that ran for 4 years about The Matrix! Important things happened in the plot of the game! It was a commercial failure, too, and possibly a creative one (I never played it myself). Anyway sort of awkward to make a movie where a big part of the conceit is "what if they made a video game out of our movies" and then ignore the video game they made out of their movies.
posted by Nelson at 7:09 AM on January 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

A friend of mine pointed me to this video which hits on a lot of things I liked about this movie while ignoring all the things I didn't like, which I think is probably a good strategy.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:31 PM on January 7, 2022 [4 favorites]

They also made a console game, maybe more than one. I didn't have a problem with them ignoring all that for this film, because I think in this film Neo's Matrix games essentially took on the role of the Matrix films in our culture. Everything the movies were for us, the games were in Neo's world. At some point the writers probably talked about making the games an MMO in Neo's world, but MMOs don't tell a very specific story, the players can't all become Neo and go on his journey, so it wouldn't have mapped as neatly onto the story of the film.

Another question occurs to me: Neo's employee, the kind of creepy little guy who calls Trinity a MILF, seemed like he was really pushing Neo to meet Trinity. We later find out the employee is an agent or something, he's one of the programs who exists to keep Neo in line, so why would he have encouraged Neo to be with Trinity? Was he secretly working against the machines? Did he think that by having them meet they'd generate even more of their doomed, star-crossed lover energy to power the Matrix? I kind of wish we'd followed up on him, because he goes from Neo's fawning little confidante to a sinister character (offscreen), and it seems like we're just getting a glimpse of the arc there.

I had some squirms about the psychiatry stuff too, and it made me wonder if Lana Wachowski had some bad experiences with therapy and she was venting here. But the film pulls an interesting trick in the way the Analyst makes perfect sense and seems really compassionate and helpful, right up until the moment he doesn't. It almost felt like the film was saying the Analyst is right... if you're not actually Neo. I don't know if we're supposed to take from it that all psychiatric medicine is a blue pill. But the psychiatric stuff is another problematic element of the franchise you can throw on the pile with Neo gunning down innocent people in the original film.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:01 PM on January 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

A friend of mine pointed me to this video which hits on a lot of things I liked about this movie while ignoring all the things I didn't like, which I think is probably a good strategy.

I think this video unlocks something for me, in how the subtle shifts to the first act, where Thomas Anderson is a successful programmer who cannot help but feel that something is desperately wrong as opposed to a hacker in a dead-end corporate job who has more reason to be dissatisfied, make the Matrix an explicit trans metaphor instead of one that is open to be interpreted as a trans metaphor, complete with incorrectly treating it as mental delusions.
posted by Merus at 9:14 AM on January 8, 2022 [3 favorites]

Oh, goody! Everyone else is going longform about their feelings on this movie. I guess I'll do that too.

When I walked out of the theaters, the only way I could think to describe my feelings to friends was: "That was extremely mediocre, but it was the highest-possible order of mediocrity it could have been." It is not creatively bankrupt: it throws a new idea your way every other minute. Even when those ideas didn't pay off as viscerally or as technically as I would have wanted, I liked the idea of those ideas—I liked why they were chosen, I liked what they wanted to say, and I was delighted that this movie was even going that way in the first place.

Two decades has convinced me that the Wachowskis are at their weakest, ironically, when it comes to set pieces. It's ironic because The Matrix was more-or-less iconic set piece after iconic set piece, to the point that you can capitalize them all and it doesn't feel cheap. The Bank. The Train Tunnel. The Dystopia. But they struggle with the same thing that George Lucas and James Cameron do, to some extent: they pack their worlds full of such impressionistic detail that some of that symbolism gets lost. Their worlds feel more like backdrops than like lived-in realities. Cloud Atlas worked because of its sheer maximalism, and because of the differences between its sets; Sense8 was extremely lush, but the lushness somewhat masked how many of its locations just felt like Generic Locations. (I felt like that was true even about its iconic Pride sequences, but in a subversive way, because Pride is never given that kind of aggressively lurid treatment in film, and that treatment is what Pride deserves.)

The action bits did nothing for me; I had the same issue with it that I had with Revolutions, which is that they repeat one tic so many times that it became impossible for me to care. (Revolutions: guy screaming while shooting a chain gun; Resurrection: Neo holding two hands up against some bullets.) And the Zion stuff was interesting to me lorewise, dull for me in real time: it felt like a weird mix of too-washed-out steampunk and too-anime sci-fi.

But ultimately, after half a month of digesting this movie... I don't think that any of that matters, to me? And not just in the "good for them, they went for it" sense. I think that, much as it's popular to praise the Wachowskis for technical flourish and pooh-pooh their philosophy, this movie most struck me in terms of what it's trying to say about the world, and about people, and for what it said I will cheerfully abandon all the rest.

The Matrix stands in, obviously and textually, for all of the systems which entrap us. In the original film, that's the sense that we're stuck in the rat race, that we're just grinding out every last bit of ourselves that ever imagined something better. Freedom looks orgy raves, shooting up a bank, and not having to wear a tie anymore. It's very in-line with other products of the last 90s—Fight Club comes to mind. And Fight Club was prescient about the effect it would have on people that watched Fight Club in a way that, well, The Matrix wasn't. But that's fine, because The Matrix was less cultural commentary and more artistic response. The Wachowskis are so much more interested in expressing feeling than they are about Having Things To Say, and the original Matrix is, more than anything, an emotional experience. And its feelings aren't the ones expressed by Neo and Trinity and Morpheus and Smith—they're encoded into the atmosphere of the world itself. You could say it's all one big ole vibe. The individuals in question are, in a sense, just a part of that code. Ciphers, it would be pretentious to say if there wasn't a literal human in that movie called Cypher.

And, speaking of, one of the major ideas in the original movie is that of people rejecting escape to stay within the Matrix. Cypher, that douchebag cishet man who's creepily obsessed with Trinity, is that dude who browses /r/TheRedPill. The only detail they got wrong is that Cypher is self-aware and that dude is, well, Elon Musk and Ivanka Trump giving each other Twitter handies. I'm thinking about Corey Robin's theory, in The Reactionary Mind, that reactionary political forces always envy radical ones, repurposing their energy and lingo but using it to reinforce existing power structures, fetishizing and romanticizing the pleasure of power for its own sake. Cypher is that. More to the point, Smith is that—and I think that, in Resurrections, he's still that, only now he's the version of that who's more aware of exactly which revolution he's appropriating. He's not even trying to imitate Hugo Weaving: he's openly, gleefully in love with the man he's trying to destroy.

That gets close at the vibe of the new movie, which is about what the Matrix is in a world that's embraced The Matrix. And not just the Red Pill appropriation, in which resentful misogynists try to reinforce "tradition" using the lingo invented by two trans women. It's the world in which capitalism itself got "hijacked" by the Google ballpit, or by Tesla's putting out car series whose model names spell out S-3-X-Y. The original Matrix posited capitalism as this dreary, monotonous thing, right? Well, capitalism's not dreary anymore when you're well-off enough to be in the middle of it! We hold meetings at Burning Man now! Our Nazis go to fun barbershops! Kanye West and Justin Bieber and Chris Pratt are loud, colorful Evangelicals now.

The new grind is the creative grind, whether you're in a TikTok house or working 20-hour days to release the new big hot video game. Sure, it's exhausting, but it's for the art, right? We're all in this together. And it's about making something beautiful, something that moves people, something that wins awards. Even artistic expression becomes something we talk about in terms of capital: it's a game of influencers and impact, "speaking to the moment," reducing political progressivism to a game of saying the right things in exactly the right way. Turning the messiness of people discovering what it means to be human, and fiercely fighting for their rights to be who they are, into the creative equivalent of checking off a bunch of boxes. It's a sanitized revolution, which is to say it's not a revolution at all. (To quote one of my favorite bands, Half Man Half Biscuit, "While you're capturing the zeitgeist, we're widening the motorways.")

I think that too much is being made of the "meta"-ness of the first third of Resurrections. The meta-ness is a really funny joke, don't get me wrong, but I think there's something serious underlying it, and it's not the "seriousness" of complaining about Warner Brothers wanting sequels. What matters isn't that The Matrix is, in-movie, getting a forced sequel—it's that The Matrix, in-movie, is the kind of thing whose "impact" has been reduced to geeky guys gushing about how they played it instead of paying attention in school. It has inspired people to... go out and make a bunch of cool kung-fu video games. Or, to the extent that they do care about the deeper political themes, it's not just that the themes they're talking about wrong—"trans identity" gets tossed out as one of the what-it's-abouts by the shithead coworkers—but that those politics are being talked about as abstractions. As if philosophy existed for the sake of cocktail-lounge conversation, rather than as the means with which we articulate and drive a movement.

I'll confess that my favorite Wachowski movie by a mile is Cloud Atlas, and one of my favorite things about it is how they take an extremely intellectually heady novel and boil it down to a pretty pointed-but-simple emotional theme. And the sense I get of them is that, beneath the overt philosophy they talk about, their real belief comes closer to this: that intellectual affairs matters inasmuch as they reflect and distill our emotional affairs. That it pays to be intelligent, but only to the extent that you refuse to divorce your ideas from your heart. That's the reason they get pooh-poohed by critics but fiercely embraced by their fans: not only will they never play the intellectual games, but they profoundly reject them. Their art is messy as hell, but their art is also about the mess, and about being intelligent with the mess—not despite the mess, but precisely because of it. On the rare occasions when they talk about their craft, it's clear that they're not only hyperintelligent about their art history but enthusiastic about it, giddy about the hidden story of artists trying to find new ways of saying new things; their interpretation, though, always comes down to the question of which techniques reach which people in which ways. The spectacle and the theory of it, for them, are both essentially means to an end: not one serving the other, but each serving the deeper cause of reaching people with the thing they want to reach them with.

There's a version of Resurrections that's way more overt about rejecting Red Pillers, or rejecting TERFs, and a lot less ambiguous in its depictions of psychiatry and motherhood. But that's not the movie Lana Wachowski would ever make, because I don't think she's all that interested in just refuting critics, or rejecting bad ideas. Similarly to how Sense8 has a brief moment, early on, where it seems like The Bad Guys are pretty literally just out to lobotomize trans women, and then that moment passes and the thing The Bad Guys are doing turns out to be at once more generic and more thematically big-picture. And the extent to which you see "generic" and "big-picture" as essentially the same, I suspect, is the extent to which you don't love how the Wachowskis do their thing. (I say this as someone who, again, did find Resurrections to be fundamentally pretty mediocre, despite saying all the rest of this shit.)

For what it's worth, I absolutely loved NPH's character in this, and that's despite meeting with a psychiatrist and getting my first-ever prescribed medication about a week before the movie came out. I don't think he's meant to serve as a stand-in for all therapy, all psychiatry; I think he's a reflection of something Helen Rosner unrelatedly tweeted earlier this week, about how a bad therapist can be infinitely worse than no therapist at all. Therapy and psychiatry can become the means by which we reinforce a lousy status quo, by turning a systemic problem into a personal one, by insisting that what's wrong isn't the world, it's our inability to accept the world. The word "triggered" is used very intentionally, and I never once got the sense that it was being used in an own-the-libs sense—the Analyst brings it up every time that Neo is, well, reminded that this world is not real, and exists specifically to maximize his suffering. "Triggered" in this movie, used in this way, means: "You are feeling something I don't want you to feel." It's gaslighting. And, yes, it's appropriating a genuinely useful (even groundbreaking) term to undercut the thing the original term was invented for; to go back to Corey Robin's thing again, that's exactly the point. It's like the idea of "safe spaces for conservatives." Our belief that ideas will save us will lead to the world we're presently seeing, the one where atheists reinvent religious dogma, feminists rediscover the Hays Code, and the LGBT movement recreates some of the worst moral panics in our not-so-distant past. (None of which is to roundly dismiss atheists, feminists, or the LGBT movement—just to say that no in-group identity is a true marker of cultural purity, or spares us from the real messy work of being human and working out the world.)

As for the motherhood stuff... YMMV, but man, the early scenes with "Thomas" and "Tiffany" felt like some of the most genuinely emotional in the series. People are pooh-poohing Trinity's role in this movie, but I felt like Carrie-Anne Moss did the best work in the whole film, every time she showed up on screen: it felt like such a lovely, melancholy, bittersweet story about the person who didn't go flat-out radical in her twenties like she always thought she shoulda, and wound up in a somewhat-content place, and still hears the sad quiet dissatisfaction of feeling like there should be something more out there. Not the same claustrophobic "I have to GET OUT" scream that Neo's feeling, not the kind of thing that leads to someone on a roof debating jumping, but that sense that once upon a time, you thought there was one part of you that mattered more than any other thing about you, and then you put that part of you in a box and hid it in a drawer behind some underwear, and every so often, when you're all alone, you take that box out and just look at it, not even bothering to open it, just feeling the heft of it in your hands... The original Matrix was all about the young people, and seeing a depiction of someone middle-aged softly dreaming of being something more, that really got to me.

And I didn't see her denouement as being the idea that mothers can't be badass. I saw it as being one step more recursive than that: it is the idea that the idea that mothers can't be badass is used to oppress. The idea that mothers "can't have it all", or that motherhood is a sacrifice, not in the deep and ancient sense of treating your child's life as more valuable than your own, but in the shallow, shitty sense that life is motherhood and that you can't have an identity outside of your spouse or your children—or that marriage shouldn't be an elevation of the parts of yourself you love most, or that your family can't be a reflection of everything you value, rather than a watered-down imitation of someone else's idea of family being enforced upon you from afar.

I'm at the age (early 30s) where it feels like all of my peers' social lives are shaking out in one of a few ways. Some of us got married, and are starting to realize that we made a horrible mistake and are trapped in a way that feels low-key like a horror movie. Some of us are single, and starting to wonder if we didn't make the mistake. And some of us are happily married, but dealing with the hard work of keeping the marriage a place where each person really is given a chance to be themselves, where "compromise" remains an act of love and not a forsaking of the soul. I don't think happy marriage or happy parenthood is impossible, but I think that there are a lot of narratives about marriage which promote miserable marriages, and a lot of narratives about family which give rise to unhappy families, just as there are narratives about not getting married that can be damaging in their own right. Resurrections felt like it was getting somewhere at that, just as the bit where Trinity looks at the Analyst and says "You tried to use my family?" felt, not like a clean-cut rejection of her family, but more like a rejection of the idea that people might use family as a weapon against family. (Trinity's being literally programmed a family that's designed to pull her down just enough that she wants to leave, but never can, muddies the water where ideas are concerned, I think; the key word, as ever, is "programmed," rather than all the words surrounding it.)

What's funny is, at the end of all of this, I still thought it was a pretty mediocre movie! I think that Paul Thomas Anderson did more with a truck rolling nonviolently backhill than Wachowski did with a whole city of people dive-bombing out of windows. I virulently hate action sequences of the Marvel variety, which is why I've spent the last year avoiding all Marvel properties (and why I avoided Star Wars, too), and I can't honestly say that Resurrections' action sequences felt any more inspired. This is precisely the kind of movie I don't love in this day and age, and I didn't love it! ...except that I came out of it with all this to say, and rewatched about half of it the next day, and will probably rewatch it in full another two times and come away thinking and saying a lot more.

Maybe what it comes down to for me is this: there are very, very few artists who I genuinely appreciate for being mediocre. Usually, when someone I love does something that feels mediocre to me, it's flat-out mediocre and that's the end of that: Edgar Wright's Last Night in Soho was a total let-down, and the existence of Hot Fuzz didn't make it any more palatable to me. But the Wachowskis are a weird, almost unique exception: I went in to this movie thinking I'd probably find it mediocre, and I didn't care, because I thought that I'd find a Wachowski mediocrity more fascinating and moving than I find most things that I find "good". And it was that, and on top of that it was extremely fucking funny, and the bits that were technical marvels were so neat that I found myself wondering why they even bothered with the half-assed kung fu in the first place. Just give us weird time-phase action puzzles and leave the rest out.

Keep the bits where a machine tries to cosplay Morpheus, though. God, that was an inspired bit.

Anyway, I wish that more artists could make "failures" half as good as the Wachowskis do, and the fact that the Wachowskis do "so-so" work this engagingly suggests, to me, that they're onto something in a big way. If I had to bet whose worst movies would still be remembered thirty years from now, I wouldn't bet against Lana.

Final Rating: 3.5 dimensions out of 5
posted by rorgy at 5:02 AM on January 9, 2022 [16 favorites]

There's a version of Resurrections that's way more overt about rejecting Red Pillers, or rejecting TERFs, and a lot less ambiguous in its depictions of psychiatry and motherhood.
It does seem strange when people claim that this movie was meant as a rebuttal towards what the red pill symbol has become on internet symbols, given that the film uses the red pill in the same way it always has. Yes, it's been expanded that machine intelligences can now also be freed from the Matrix, which is befitting the more inclusionary spirit of the times. But other than that, I'm struck by how so much of this film, like other legacy revivals from the new Star Wars to the new Blade Runner, ends up retreading the same dynamics despite trying to spruce them up. The red pill is still a source of freedom. There is still a resistance that's fighting against an evil A.I. overlord. Human beings are still being captive. Neo is still crucial.

A film more committed to recutting and remixing its past could have upended its structure. Make the human resistance in the wrong- maybe not outright evil, but misguided in its veneration of Neo. Make the redpill in its modern form a malignant presence. Gave Trinity more agency and presence. Yet in the movie, she's largely a background character other than a few crucial scenes. When Bugs says that her code reads like she's not a prospect to be freed, there's no dramatic tension at all because we all know that the tropes will force her to do otherwise. She will find some unexplored internal character strength to embrace freedom, because the Matrix Resurrections is the child to its predecessor, and it cannot do otherwise but to have its heroes be heroes. Meta enough? This would have been less criticism-worthy if they had given her the chance to be a viewpoint character. Also, Smith just doesn't do anything of substance. His actions at the ending seem sequel fodder.

This movie feels like it wants to both escape and reshape its legacy, and spends so much of its runtime grappling with it. And yet, it still ends up being shackled to it, even if it ends with a happy ending.
But that's not the movie Lana Wachowski would ever make, because I don't think she's all that interested in just refuting critics, or rejecting bad ideas.
I have to wonder how true that is, because despite WB seemingly giving her the free rein to namedrop them negatively (which is an old corporate playbook tactic to make themselves seem cool and "with it"- see all of the times that the Simpsons bashed FOX, or any late night host poke fun at their network), I'm not sure if the studio would've allowed that level of creative control to be exercised, to make the social subtext explicit.

That said, you're probably right- I think based on interviews with Lana, a primary motivation of this film was the grieving process over losing her parents, not in refuting the internet redpill crowd.
More to the point, Smith is that—and I think that, in Resurrections, he's still that, only now he's the version of that who's more aware of exactly which revolution he's appropriating. He's not even trying to imitate Hugo Weaving: he's openly, gleefully in love with the man he's trying to destroy.
Jonathan Groff might be a hell of an actor, but as I've never seen Hamilton, he just seemed like a generic white dude to me. He didn't even capture the cadence of a techbro or a slimy media executive, but just an empty suit. If this film really was to be a refutation of the Elon-Ivanka Twitter exchange, might I suggest the casting of Sharlto Copley to make the subtext overt? He needs to be in more sci-fi movies again.

Come to think of it, Sharlto would've done a wicked Smith.
Another question occurs to me: Neo's employee, the kind of creepy little guy who calls Trinity a MILF, seemed like he was really pushing Neo to meet Trinity. We later find out the employee is an agent or something, he's one of the programs who exists to keep Neo in line, so why would he have encouraged Neo to be with Trinity? Was he secretly working against the machines? Did he think that by having them meet they'd generate even more of their doomed, star-crossed lover energy to power the Matrix? I kind of wish we'd followed up on him, because he goes from Neo's fawning little confidante to a sinister character (offscreen), and it seems like we're just getting a glimpse of the arc there.
He seemed to be an imitation Jonah Hill stock character that they completely forgot to do anything with, other than make him as gross and irritating as possible. The worst part was the FaceTime bit where Bugs tells, and not shows Neo how he and his buddies were agent handler programs, and then they never show up again to demonstrate their villainy, nor get their comeuppance. Just a complete nothingburger.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:42 PM on January 10, 2022 [2 favorites]

Esther Rosenfield, who is one of my favorite indie film critics, has been gushing about this movie endlessly without writing a big thing about it, and today she shared a link to a podcast episode she did to gush about it. I'm halfway through listening to it, and fuck me it's smart and interesting and good.
posted by rorgy at 3:51 PM on January 10, 2022

Boringly postmodern and an ideological fantasy: Slavoj Žižek reviews Matrix Resurrections
With a little bit of irony we could say that the Analyst corrects the falling profit rate of using humans as energy batteries: he realizes that just stealing enjoyment from humans is not productive enough, we (the Matrix) should also manipulate the experience of humans that serve as batteries so that they will experience more enjoyment. Victims themselves have to enjoy: the more humans enjoy, the more surplus-enjoyment can be drawn from them – Lacan’s parallel between surplus-value and surplus-enjoyment is again confirmed here. The problem is just that, although the new regulator of the Matrix is called 'Analyst” (with an obvious reference to the psychoanalyst), he doesn’t act as a Freudian analyst but as a rather primitive utilitarian, following the maxim: avoid pain and fear and get pleasure. There is no pleasure-in-pain, no 'beyond the pleasure principle', no death drive, in contrast to the first film in which Smith, the agent of the Matrix, gives a different, much more Freudian explanation
The film’s end brings hope by merely giving the opposite spin to this sad insight: yes, our world is composed just of layers of 'fantasy-as-reality, and reality-as-fantasy, a mess of whims, and desires', there is no Archimedean point which eludes the deceitful layers of fake realities. However, this very fact opens up a new space of freedom – the freedom to intervene and rewrite fictions that dominate us. Since our world is composed just of layers of 'fantasy-as-reality, and reality-as-fantasy, a mess of whims, and desires', this means that the Matrix is also a mess: the paranoiac version is wrong, there is no hidden agent (Architect or Analyst) who controls it all and secretly pulls the strings. The lesson is that 'we should learn to fully embrace the power of the stories that we spin for ourselves, whether they be video games or complex narratives about our own pasts... – we might rewrite everything. We can make of fear and desire as we wish; we can alter and shape the people who we love, and we dream of.' The movie thus ends with a rather boring version of the postmodern notion that there is no ultimate 'real reality', just an interplay of the multitude of digital fictions
posted by Apocryphon at 1:59 PM on January 18, 2022

Also from there:
Every reader has for sure noticed that, in my description of the movie, I heavily rely on a multitude of reviews which I extensively quote. The reason is now clear: in spite of its occasional brilliance, the film is ultimately not worth seeing – which is why I also wrote this review without seeing it.
On the one hand, that's kinda impressive and very Žižekian. On the other, really?
posted by CrystalDave at 2:06 PM on January 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

the Analyst ... realizes that just stealing enjoyment from humans is not productive enough, we (the Matrix) should also manipulate the experience of humans that serve as batteries so that they will experience more enjoyment. Victims themselves have to enjoy: the more humans enjoy, the more surplus-enjoyment can be drawn from them"
It makes sense that he didn't actually watch the movie because this is exactly backwards. The Matrix that the Analyst builds is made to maximize human suffering but also diffuse that suffering so that it cannot easily be sharpened into activism. People feel like their lives are meaningless and that they should break free, but now the Matrix laughs at them, says "Oh like that one video game?" and renders their dissatisfaction inert. This is most pointed with Neo and Trinity, whose perpetual suffering is the core of the system with each of them trapped in a life that isn't theirs but is carefully crafted to feel like the life they deserve. It's a shame he didn't watch it because I feel like the changes to the way the Matrix is depicted is by far the strongest part of this new movie.

He is right though, that the real-world analogs to what The Matrix embodies does not have any one boogeyman at its head. Instead it's various interlocking systems that benefit certain people who in turn enforce those systems but rarely control them directly.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:58 PM on January 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

Slavoj Žižek reviews Matrix Resurrections. Am I supposed to know who that is? (I wrote this comment without reading his review.)
posted by Nelson at 4:04 PM on January 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

Slack so so is is it this guy, you know!

I'm sofovm this comment without looking at the keuvpard
posted by Pronoiac at 4:52 PM on January 18, 2022

It's funny. I've seen Eternals and now this both over the last couple of days, and in a lot of ways they're very similar - long, visually striking actions movies with mostly slow, "contemplative" dialog scenes broken up by highly kinetic fight scenes, usually in very pretty places, both with more characters than they can meaningfully develop, and a sense that the worldbuilding is more important than the story being told within that world. In both cases I'm pretty sure that making sense of what actually takes place requires leaning way more on the top-heavy tower of rules about how the world of the story operates, rather than relatable actions of characters within it. And both are at heart deeply silly, while dressed up as being quite serious.

But the big difference is that Eternals bored me to tears while this delighted me from start to finish. I think because the characters here were actually characters, even if they were ultimately subject to the applied phlebotinum of the plot. The humor was well-conceived and integrated into the tone rather than something to be included as rarely and as grudgingly as possible. The villains were actually villainous and not just wooden. The love story involved an actual connection between the leads rather than the leads just telling each other their names and then fucking on a beach. And most importantly, when it was choosing to take a "contemplative" pace, it actually had things to contemplate within it. But enough with the chip on my shoulder about Eternals, as the comparison is unnecessary.

I thought it was interesting that, while the previous movies had left the setting within the Matrix deliberately vague (kinda Chicago, Kinda L.A., kinda New York, really Sydney) that Wachowski made it clearly San Francisco here, but since the movie is such a glorious "fuck you" to tech-bro culture, I think that was the right choice.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:01 PM on January 21, 2022 [2 favorites]

So in their coffee meeting, Trinity asks Neo how much of the video game character was him. And he says 'a lot, probably too much.'

My read is that Neo is the Mary Sue character, searching for Trinity. And once Trinity is free ('My name is Trinity and keep your fucking hands off me' is pretty explicitly saying 'don't dead name me asshole') the narrative viewpoint transitions.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:27 PM on January 22, 2022 [1 favorite]

I definitely picked up that Trinity goes from object to subject real quick - as soon as she acknowledges her identity, the entire rest of the film is Trinity just constantly doing cool shit
posted by Merus at 12:49 AM on January 24, 2022 [3 favorites]

I still can't buy the idea that it becomes Trinity's story at the end and she's the one who will remake the new Matrix. I'd thought that Neo never relearned to fly, but I saw a clip of the ending the other day and the final shot is actually Neo and Trinity flying together, swooping around each other. I think they're meant to be seen as equals.

Trinity giving up her children like that does mess with my head a little, even if those kids were probably just agents programmed to keep her in line. She remembered giving birth to them, raising them, every little moment of their childhoods... as far as she knew, they were her kids. Maybe she always sensed on some level that they weren't really her children, and she was only going through the motions of motherhood. She does slap the Analyst's jaw loose for "using children," and rightly so, but we're probably only getting a tiny glimpse of the trauma and confusion she experienced there.

I'd have to rewatch the scene to find out what the husband and kids were all going on about to convince Trinity to leave Neo at the end. Does anybody know? I think there was something about an accident, and somebody being in the hospital?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:10 PM on January 24, 2022 [1 favorite]

I believe (and it looks like this article, In Case You Didn’t Notice, The Matrix Resurrections Is a Trans Love Story backs up my recollection), that the family dog was hit by a car (while chasing after her, because she was abandoning her family), & the dog was in the hospital.
posted by CrystalDave at 1:14 PM on January 24, 2022

Thanks. Now that you say it, that does sound familiar.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:11 PM on January 24, 2022

Jonathan Groff might be a hell of an actor, but as I've never seen Hamilton, he just seemed like a generic white dude to me. He didn't even capture the cadence of a techbro or a slimy media executive, but just an empty suit. If this film really was to be a refutation of the Elon-Ivanka Twitter exchange, might I suggest the casting of Sharlto Copley to make the subtext overt? He needs to be in more sci-fi movies again.

Come to think of it, Sharlto would've done a wicked Smith.
To toot my own fantasy casting idea, looks like Sharlto is gonna be playing a real-life supervillain manifestation of techno-dystopian anxieties soon, nice. Glad to see him getting more work after Free Fire bombed at the box office.
posted by Apocryphon at 8:24 PM on January 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

Did a rewatch 9 months on; still a moving love-story and meta-festival. Everything else can be forgiven.
posted by lalochezia at 9:42 PM on September 12, 2022 [3 favorites]

> "You see what they do is they take over a bunch of people and kind of turn them into zombies that just throw themselves at the good guys."

In a discussion about a trailer for an upcoming Fast and Furious movie, a clip from The Fate of the Furious came up that felt like an inspiration for the Matrix sequence.
posted by Pronoiac at 3:21 PM on February 11, 2023

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