by Jana Monji, AsAmNews Arts & Culture Contributor
Warning: This review contains spoilers
The Matrix Resurrections is a romantic science fiction adventure with pleasing diversity, starring Native Hawaiian and Chinese hapa Keanu Reeves as a confused hero.
Director Lana Wachowski co-wrote this sequel and fourth installment in The Matrix film series goes back to take us forward, but you don’t have to watch the whole trilogy to understand what’s going on.
What you need to know is:
- Computer programmer Thomas Anderson (Reeves), led a double life. Away from work, he’s a hacker for hire going under the pseudonym “Neo.”
- Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) is his love interest who introduces him to the reality: What he thought was his real world is a program (The Matrix) meant to pacify humans who are hooked up as part of a generator which uses human bioelectronic energy to power the intelligent machines that rule the world.
- Trinity introduces Neo to Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), who gives Neo a choice: the blue pill of illusion or the red pill of reality.
- If one dies in the Matrix, one also dies in reality.
- Neo is pursued by Agent Smith, a sentient computer program that eventually operates inside and outside the Matrix.
- The human refugees of the war between the intelligent machines and the humans live in an underground city, Zion.
- Morpheus believes that Neo is the chosen One who will save humanity.
- The Oracle helps to guide humans by giving them cryptic clues.
- In the 2003 sequel The Matrix Reloaded, Neo meets with the creator of the Matrix (Architect) and learns that the Matrix is in its sixth iteration.
- Neo is the sixth chosen One. Each One must choose between Zion’s extinction or to reboot the program at the Source and save a select few of the citizens of Zion to carry on.
- Neo chooses to save Trinity, but Trinity dies and Neo ultimately sacrifices himself and is assimilated (replugged into power generator).
- Morpheus and Niobe survive in Zion.
- The Architect and the Oracle also come to an agreement that the humans who wish to leave the Matrix will be allowed to do so.
The Matrix Resurrections starts by going back to the beginning. Here Bugs (played by Chinese-British hapa Jessica Henwick) is watching the initial scenes of the first film, The Matrix, from a room hidden in the walls of the building where the action takes place and notices that something is wrong. The code must be changing.
Within what seems like contemporary times, Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is a highly successful programmer who is the brains behind an extraordinarily interactive computer game that was once wildly popular (The Matrix franchise). Dressed in jeans and a long jacket and a long-sleeved shirt, he is a bearded, nervous man with mental disorders and a notably uncool fashion sense. A suicide survivor, he gets therapy from his Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris) who dispenses pills for him to control his mental illness.
Anderson’s business partner, Smith, is an oily man who oozes used car salesman charm. Smith handles the business deals at their company Deus Machina. Away from the office, Anderson frequents a coffee shop where he watches a woman who he imagines is his love, but her name’s not Trinity. Named Tiffany after an Audrey Hepburn film, the woman (Carrie-Anne Moss) is married with kids and a husband, Chad (Chad Stahelski).
Although Anderson feels he knows her, his Analyst reminds Anderson that the models for people in his program come from his life. Anderson used his sublimated anger at his business partner to create his Matrix nemesis, Agent Smith, in the game. Tiffany has become his Trinity, the unattainable love interest.
The threat of Warner Bros. making a sequel forces Anderson to work on his Matrix program under pressure from Smith. Anderson listens to the other programmers who work at his company (“I like my games big, loud and dumb.”) and feels alienated. What shall be the nature of the new version of the Matrix?
While there are some old faces besides Moss and Reeves, some will have new iterations. Morpheus does return but is now played by Yahha Abdul-Mateen II. There will be more than one Agent Smith.
The blue and the red pill dilemma resurfaces. “Is there free will or destiny?” Is Anderson/Neo sane? What is the real world? In the original series, Anderson/Neo was driven by his love for Trinity. Reality slips and slides sideways as Anderson/Neo falls into this CGI rabbit hole. He followed a white rabbit and, in this sequel, he will go through the looking glass.
The Matrix Resurrections is a satisfying revisit to an imperfect trilogy. It is better than the last two and more emotionally involved than the first. It envisions a world where there can be peace. The Matrix Resurrections also reminds us that a franchise was built with a diverse cast before the beginning of Phase One of the MCU. The Chicago-born Wachowskis remind us what diversity can look like and they’ve been doing it since 1999.
The Matrix Resurrections includes Henwick, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Leo Cheng, Ed Moy and Purab Kohli. By comparison, the casting diversity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe seems backwards.
As director and as a writer with David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) and Aleksandar Hemon (novels Nowhere Man and The Lazarus Project), Lana has given us an action hero and a tale of true love set in a diverse world while providing Tony Award-winning Neil Patrick Harris and Tony Award-nominated Jonathan Groff with substantial yet nuanced roles on the big screen.
The Matrix Resurrections was released in Toronto on 16 December 2021 and was released on 22 December 2021 in the United States. Remember to stay for the credits.
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