Mild Spoilers Ahead!
A lot of what I tend to explore in my own writing is ‘What if this world is not all it appears to be, what is the nature of Truth’. It’s a mindset that either leads to an increasingly worrying tendency towards conspiracy theories, or a differently worrying tendency towards postmodernism. Having not quite had the latter beaten out of me in a “post-truth” world, I was looking forward to a fourth Matrix movie, even if it was going to be a mess.
And what a glorious mess this was. Truly glorious. TMR was a love letter to the original intentions of The Matrix movie(s) that actually reignited my interest in a franchise I hadn’t really thought about in nearly two decades. Much like it took me listening to The Suburbs to truly unlock Arcade Fire for me, TMR acts like a prism through which to view what has come before, but stripped of a lot of the unintended baggage.
Some people might not enjoy the deep and endless meta-references and self-referential callbacks that it’d need a second watch to catch all of, and even for me it was a bit much. The introspective first half of the movie seems like this film’s true nature, but is it too on-the-nose, with direct references to sister Lily and to Warner Brothers‘ intentions for a sequel? Maybe a little, but I did like the references to the meta-narrative around the Matrix franchise as a whole, from the games, the corporate interference, the pseudo-philosophical writings, etc. A counter-attack against what one character summarises to Neo: “They took your story and turned it into something trivial”.
Making the cannon fodder to be bots, reprogrammed humans, rather than powerful agents, seems apropos for these times. But it also feels like a terrible view of the world when the people are the enemy. A war of the “free” against the “sheeple” seems destined to be yet another Matrix-born concept that’s going to be twisted by so-called “red-pilled” keyboard warriors – everyone wants to see themselves as the only one who can see the truth.
The film is not without its absurdity, none so much as the ranting, raving Merovingian. Furthermore, while one of the best parts of the original movie was its relative simplicity, Resurrections is often dense and overburdened with complexity and terminology. The film in its second half sometimes feels like it’s on rails. Neither Neo nor Trinity are taking action, they’re not making decisions: They are bound up in destiny and predestination.
But when it comes to theme, can anyone argue with the longing to feel complete? To come together and be One? As Priscilla Page writes: “Fighting for hope and love is framed as a revolutionary act.”