Matrix Resurrections: Some Things Change, Some Things Don’t

The top photo is a screenshot from the trailer to this film

So, I’ve watched it twice now, The Matrix: Resurrections and I’m still trying to decide whether I like it or not. The ending … I don’t know. Well, actually I do know how I feel about the ending, but I don’t want to be a spoiler.

I have been anticipating this movie ever since it was announced there was going to be a #4 in the Matrix franchise. The main characters have aged, except for Morpheus and Smith, who are much younger versions than the first three Matrix movies. That was an interesting twist to the movie.

The first Matrix was released at the end of March 1999 and the cyberpunk approach to the film made it so appealing, with its storyline (plot) that some of us actually went to see it two or three more times just to wrap our heads around what Morpheus was telling Neo while in the Construct. It made some wonder if they could jump across buildings like Morpheus and fly like Neo. Of course we can’t and trying would be suicidal. There was that guy who jumped out of an airplane without a chute, but he was aiming for — and hit — a giant net, thereby surviving the jump unscathed. He also had four safety skydivers who stayed with him until the moment they had to deploy their chutes.

Then there was the guy who jumped from a balloon at the edge of space, with his chute being deployed at the right time. Can you imagine freefalling for over 110,000 feet? Anyway, he wore a space suit (obviously) and his landing had been calculated to within a few feet of where he eventually reached Terra Firma once again.

Promo photo from
The Matrix Resurrections
Courtesy of Warner Brothers

Neither one of those was like the flying depicted in The Matrix, although it is a good bet both guys will tell you the experience was very F*****g cool. Jumping out of an airplane without a parachute? That’s some next level shit. I’ve jumped out of airplanes in daylight hours — with parachutes — and a while ago I met a former Army special forces operator who talked about jumping out of airplanes in pitch dark and just having faith the pilots put you over the drop zone accurately. That will pucker your anus.

That’s all a possible topic for another day, but I will just say this: All special forces members are some next level crazy. It ain’t just the jumping out of perfectly good airplanes at night, but so much more.

“We don’t use that word in here.”

The analyst in The Matrix Resurrections was telling Thomas Anderson — Neo — he isn’t to call himself crazy. What happens next is interesting and bears no resemblance to the trailer we’ve been watching on TV. “Well, what does that mean?”

It means I’m not spoiling the movie.

One of the things that always puzzled me about the first three Matrix movies was this: All the characters could do those amazing jumps from one building to another … but only Neo could fly? Why couldn’t all the characters fly?

Then in the first one, the original, Neo has become the guy already, he does all the martial arts and incredible, physics-defying moves and yet, towards the end when he is out running the agents, he runs up the fire escape. Why not just jump to the top floor?

There is a lot of suspense in the final act of the first one and having Neo use his super human abilities would take away much of that suspense. The real trick comes after Agent Smith “kills” Neo — Thomas Anderson — but the real Neo knows that what happens in the Matrix isn’t necessarily permanent. Trinity kisses him while he is plugged in on the Nebuchadnezzar and voila! Neo comes back to life in the Matrix, and in one of the coolest scenes in any movie, stops all the bullets fired by the agents and then destroys Agent Smith (we think) and chases the other agents away before be answers the phone and gets unplugged before the sentinels completely destroy the Nebuchadnezzar. The end.

If I’ve spoiled the ending of the original for you, well too bad. You have had 22 years to watch it.

Two messages that I saw from the first one, that I can think of off the top of my head: Miracles can happen in the unlikeliest of ways. The character of Cypher, played by Joe Pantoliano, says, as he’s about to pull the plug on Neo, thereby killing him, only a miracle can save Neo, Tank, played by Marcus Chong, picks up that ray gun thing and zaps Cypher, thereby miraculously saving Neo. Who then goes on to miraculously save Morpheus, Laurence Fishburne, from the agents who are in an upper floor of a military controlled building. But it’s all in the Matrix and by this point Neo knows a thing or two about the rules of the Matrix and how they can be bended, twisted and broken.

But I digress.

Matrix Resurrections has a new Morpheus. For some inexplicable reason Lana Wachowski — uh, one more thing: It isn’t made by both Wachowskis, just Lana — Lana didn’t bring back Laurence Fishburne, replacing him with a great actor (I must say) Yahya Abdul Mateen II.

In the first three Matrix movies Morpheus is a flesh and blood human being, in Resurrections he’s … different. Could we have had the two different versions of Morpheus? I believe so, but the Laurence Fishburne version is explained away and that’s that. Hmm.

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix Resurrections
Courtesy of Warner Brothers

Like I wrote earlier, Yahya Abdul Mateen II is a very good actor. We’ve seen him in many different roles, including Dr. Manhattan in HBO’s The Watchmen. The version of Morpheus he plays is quite entertaining, a bit more sarcastic and wittier than the original version. But that’s because the new version is not just Morpheus. He has a bit of Agent Smith in him … Wait, what?

The premise of Resurrections is that it is all a game designed by Thomas Anderson — Neo —  and well, the machines that run the real world, including the power plant full of unsuspecting humans, needs not only Neo, but Trinity as well to keep a balance in the power plant and Matrix. But here I’ve gone and revealed too much.

Remember in The Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions, there was a character called the Architect? Remember that as you view Resurrections. There is a character called the Analyst, superbly played by Neil Patrick Harris. But here I go revealing too much.

There’s a new Smith, Jonathan Groff and that character is off the hook. But could there have been a part for Hugo Weaving? I guess if they’re going to whack Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving will be toast as well. But as it turns out Weaving had a scheduling conflict.

Getting back to the premise: The owners of the giant software company where Thomas Anderson works and created an extremely popular video game in three parts called The Matrix — Warner Brothers — has decided they are going to make a fourth installment because, what the hell, why leave good enough alone? Little creeps like me have been begging for another sequel for nearly 20 years, 19, but who’s counting, so they decided they would create another part to The Matrix video game whether Thomas Anderson and his business partner — you’ll never guess who he really is — want to be involved in the production or not. And Thomas Anderson said he was not going to make any more sequels to the first three.

Warner Brothers owns The Matrix franchise and they probably figured they have been miking it for decades now, with video games and comic books, why not make another film and in the film’s plot they are asking “Why not make another video game?” This is who we are, as a culture.

Is this a way for Lana Wachowski, Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss to tell us they were sort of forced to make this because it was getting made, regardless of their involvement? Or is this another “Let’s mess with their heads” twist? Either way, it got my attention. Did I reveal too much again? I also have to wonder: Did they see what Universal did to the Jason Bourne franchise when two of the main actors, Matt Damon and Julia Stiles, didn’t take part in The Bourne Legacy? Just speculating.

At this point you might be asking yourself, “Didn’t Trinity and Neo die at the end of Revolutions?” Indeed they did, but the machines, they know how to get things done. And Lana Wachowski, for very personal reasons, wanted to bring the characters of Neo and Trinity back to life.

It’s art, cinema art and if a grieving filmmaker wants to resurrect her two favorite characters, then why not? It satisfies many of us fans, although probably not completely. While watching #4 we’ve been asking “What about this, that and the other thing?” Questions we were asking during the first three Matrix movies. So, as we find out once again, as Niobe and Morpheus made clear so beautifully in Reloaded, “Some things never change … and some things do.”

There are several other characters and actors you will want to watch in this film. It isn’t just about Neo and Trinity. They know the rules of the Matrix as well.

One thing we can applaud the main actors and filmmaker Lana Wachowski for doing: showing the main characters have aged. It’s been 20 years since they made Reloaded and Revolutions. Moss said she really liked the idea of showing how Trinity has gotten older, how Neo has aged as well. And Niobe will blow your mind.

And that whole flying thing, at the end of Revolutions Smith could fly as well, but in this one … Why spoil it for others? Okay, I like this one The Matrix Resurrections. Do I question some of it? Yes, but like the other three it leaves us with more questions, not just about the Matrix Universe, but also about ourselves.

I prefer watching it at home, streaming from HBO MAX. I can make my goodies in the kitchen and then hit play and watch. When I need to use the toilet, I just hit pause and go, which is only about 12 feet from where I’m sitting. Believe me, it’s much nicer than getting up to walk a few minutes to a communal restroom and miss crucial minutes of a film’s closing moments.

Movie theaters are great, but for old people like me, streaming at home is far more comfortable.

Well, that’s it. I’m glad I saw it three times now — yes, I’ve watched it a third time — and I suspect I will lose count of how many times I will watch it going forward.

Oh yeah, Happy Holidays.