The Matrix Resurrections: the bonkers visuals, the love story and the final reveal – discuss with spoilers | The Matrix

There’s no need for a blue pill. The Matrix Resurrections is, by and large, an engaging and energetic motion picture, and worthy of being on the same shelf as the groundbreaking original from 1999. Unlike the soul-crushingly dull previous entry, The Matrix Revolutions, it remembers that mind-scrambling pseudo-intellectual yammering gets tiresome on-screen if there isn’t also some fun. Luckily, director Lana Wachowski, working apart from her sister Lilly for the first time, and her screenwriting partners David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon, have included plenty of flashbacks. A rewatch isn’t absolutely necessary. But talking about the new one after you see it is.

It’s time for some game theory

After an introduction to new characters (who are somehow inside the first scene of The Matrix? Is this the Holodeck?) we check back in with Keanu Reeves’s Neo, only he’s back as an office drone, plugging away as Thomas Anderson. It’s no longer 1999, it’s 2021, or so we think. Could this be the true base reality, not the story of The Nebuchadnezzar and The One liberating Zion from The Architect and the Machines?

If so, then The Matrix trilogy as we know it was just a game series that Anderson created, and the peculiar feeling he has about the world around him is something he needs to work through with his analyst, played by Neil Patrick Harris.

But the line between fiction and reality in Anderson’s life gets even blurrier at the same time that it does in The Matrix Resurrections’s script. In a wildly self-referential turn, Anderson is informed that he must make a sequel to his original Matrix trilogy, as corporate overlords Warner Bros are going to do it with or without his involvement. (This is, essentially, what happened to Wachowski in the weirdest reality of all: Hollywood.)

It gets stranger when we see how Anderson based his soulmate Trinity on a gal he sees at his local coffee shop (called the Simulatte, ha ha ha), played by Carrie-Anne Moss, who also has a sense something about the world is off.

What is the Matrix, again?

Working it out ... Neil Patrick Harris as the Analyst.
Working it out … Neil Patrick Harris as the Analyst. Photograph: AP

Anderson’s niggling unease inspires him to create a “modal”, a little program that independently tries to get to the root of the fabric of existence. Two things happen: first, a program (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) assumes the identity of Morpheus, Laurence Fishburne’s character from the original trilogy. (We’ll discover the real Morpheus died a while ago, and it’s been a lot longer than the 20 years we think has passed.)

The other strange thing about this modal is that a hacker named Bugs (Jessica Henwick) from “the real world” (the world where Neo, Trinity and Morpheus once fought for Zion) somehow (and don’t ask me how) gets into Anderson’s new modal.

This all makes sense, it really does. But the big question is what, exactly, is this new Matrix that Anderson (and Moss’s “Tiffany”) find themselves in?

I think we’re all going to need a second viewing to nail this down, but the most interesting aspect is how Harris’s Analyst, basically serving the same purpose as the original trilogy’s Architect, has found a way to draw more power out of pod-sleeping humans by tormenting them with what we in the Jewish faith call tsuris.

Heartache, woe and general bad vibes certainly seem ubiquitous of late, and The Matrix Resurrections suggests this is due to a malevolent computer program pushing our psyches for a little extra juice. Of course, what the Analyst doesn’t realise is that an even stronger force emerges when Neo and Trinity work together: the power of true love.

The new “bullet time”

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, left, and Jessica Henwick in The Matrix Resurrections.
Niggling unease … Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, left, and Jessica Henwick in The Matrix Resurrections. Photograph: AP

When Anderson and his group of game developers are mapping out their sequel, they realise that there was something ineffable about the first Matrix. Yes, all the heavy metaphysics was part of it, but it also looked cool!

The new entry will need to find its “bullet time”, the effect from the 1999 movie in which Neo arched backward, the camera swirled around, and time seemed to stand still. The Analyst even mentions it when he is tormenting Anderson/Neo during a moment of great peril, but nothing on the screen pops just yet.

The “holy crap, what am I seeing?” moment comes during the final chase, in which the new iteration of Agent Smith possesses the bodies plugged into the Matrix in an attempt to kill Neo and Trinity. The 2.0 version is called swarm mode, and this time, anyone sleeping or working in a high-rise building that happens to be looming above Trinity’s racing Ducati will suddenly get a weird look in their eyes and dive out the window, becoming a human torpedo. It’s one of the most bonkers visuals in any Matrix movie.

The Matrix as a transgender allegory

During that montage of the brainstorming game developers there’s some rapid dialogue about what The Matrix trilogy is really about. Somewhere in the mix of theories someone says that it is about transgender issues. (Lilly Wachowski indeed discussed this explicitly last year.)

There’s much in the new entry that adds to this conversation. Firstly, the game that Anderson is currently struggling with (and abandons) is called Binary.

Then there’s the entire third act of the movie, in which Neo and his gang try to rescue Trinity from her sleeping life as Tiffany, a bored, married women. She knows that her true self is the one that pairs with Neo as a martial arts-savvy badass, but it is far easier to stay submerged in the role the false society has written for her. Neo stresses that she’ll only be happy as Trinity if it is her choice, and she backs away, worried that she’s been acting as Tiffany so long that it is simply too late.

That sentiment – feeling that it is too late to transition – is a common issue for many trans people, so this exchange between Trinity and Neo will likely resonate. As will Moss telling the dopey husband character (whose name is actually Chad) to stop deadnaming her, and to call her Trinity.

Lastly, there’s the film’s final reveal, where it seems that in the new Matrix, most of the special powers (such as flying) have transitioned from the male Neo to the female Trinity.

Closing credits

A movie as wild as The Matrix Resurrections has many little treasures (a cruise through something called “the fetus fields” is just one of them) but the hits keep coming during the credits. As with the 1999 Matrix, the movie ends with the song Wake Up by Rage Against the Machine, but this time it’s a cover with a female vocalist.

The new version is by the group Brass Against, and if that name sounds familiar it either means you love rock anthems featuring a sousaphone, or you remember the incident from mid-November in which the group’s lead singer Sophia Urista pulled down her pants, squatted over a fan and urinated on him during a performance. (While the fan appeared to be consenting, the janitorial staff at the venue surely were not!) Of course, there’s no way Lana Wachowski could have predicted Brass Against’s current stream of notoriety, but it’s further proof that she’s still got the golden touch.

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