“It’s using old code to make something new”
The Matrix Resurrections is something really special. It’s a unique and welcome film that uses its identity as yet another modern sequel/ reboot of a beloved classic to deliver a bold meta commentary of the current state of the film industry in the most unabashedly Wachowski way imaginable. It’s a film that wears the context it finds us in the modern age as another one of it’s storytelling utensils rather than a played out crutch. What’s been made here is a stark middle finger to the formulaic cash grabs and studio driven crowd pleasers, a film cursed to split audiences but a film that completely enraptured me and perfectly contextualised a modern Matrix return in a playfully cynical way while remaining 100% true to the style and identity that made the original so phenomenal.
The action is definitely at the forefront alongside meta narrative and it’s refreshing to see a blockbuster utilise its lighting and framing as more than just an afterthought. Real care and attention was brought to the striking visual identity of the film which only serves to heighten the jaw dropping spectacle on display in tandem with Lana’s incredibly creative voice. The final action set piece is fantastically cinematic and exciting, sporting a tense motorcycle chase and rooftop chase. So meticulously crafted to be carthatically badass, intense and operatic in scale, just as the Matrix should. It really is a refreshing thing to see that the Matrix is the film to remind me of what it feels like to have a visionary back in the directing seat of a high budget production delivering a truly thrilling spectacle like this.
Another aspect subtly boosting the film was the brilliant score. The tense thudding beats and iconic distant horns of the original remain alive in a seamless continuation of the original’s ideas which equally heightens the ambitious action set pieces and quieter tender moments.
The out of Matrix sections continue to be my least favourite aspects of the story. Zion now substituted with ‘Ion’ is rich and interesting in aesthetics and culture but is merely a stage for the actors to routinely divulge exposition in an orderly and convenient fashion. The film doesn’t linger there for too long and skips by it fairly quickly but having to make a pitstop here sidetracking the main course was tedious and arguably even less enjoyable than the original trilogy. Where it was once a bustling culture forced to adapt under the omnipotent surveillance of the machines, a society teeming with communal strength and unwavering brotherhood built with the scrap parts and determination it is now a surface level 2nd act filler. The crowded parties or occupied pavelas reduced to a handful of plot relevant characters.
My favourite aspect of the film was definitely the meta narrative going on. The Matrix resurrection is about the devaluing of the source material being reduced to throwaway pop culture gags or nods. Lana however comes back with a vengeance to remind us that the Matrix is more than just the brand and was a cinematic powerhouse that subverted the action genre, something it is still doing to this day. It criticises the tedious cycle franchise films systematically take to their storytelling. It’s a wildly entertaining and ballsy approach considering the expectations people have going into modern blockbusters and paid off immensely. The first act is arguably the most invested and interesting I’ve been in a film’s base narrative in awhile, it’s constantly throwing the viewer through an evolving labyrinth of contradicting narratives and events. It keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat until the very last second when the status quo resumes and Neo’s primary goal is brought into focus. The callbacks and subtle references aren’t just a lazy tongue and cheek substitute for actual screen writing but actually hold narrative weight directly playing into the themes and ideas presented, adding a unique layer of intrigue and meaning to their inclusion. There hasn’t been a big budget franchise entry in years with this level of commitment to it’s agenda or the brilliantly entertaining voice carrying it’s anti establishment messages. With a lot of these played out continuations of decade old series the spark or essence that made the source work so captivating is lost in the translation to appease high profit margins and intrusive studio control however the Matrix resurrection’s punk aesthetics, thrillings action, tender affection and brilliantly captivating Watkowski identity feels just as fresh and strong as it did 20 years ago. The Matrix Resurrection is the incredibly unique outlyer of modern Hollywood flicks I’ve been longing for. Although the bar it has set will not stick as a precedent, that’s what makes resurrections incredible. A precious gem doomed to be misinterpreted and pushed back by the hoards of sensitised film goers contempt with watching the ouroboros the film industry has morphed into.
You could say the Matrix is the red pill I’ve been waiting for.
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