What is The Matrix Resurrections? According to David Mitchell, one of the screenwriters, it is “It’s a very beautiful and weird creation.”  This simple quote is surprisingly accurate.  But whether or not the weird beauty of this sequel to Matrix Trilogy actually works is a bit more complex.

Director Lana Wachowski and her co-writers are acutely aware of the fan expectations swarming around this movie.  They’ve crafted a movie that is more self-aware, and self-referential than any film before it.   To call it “meta” is a gross understatement.   In the film, decades have passed since game designer Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) released a video game trilogy that changed pop culture forever.  That game, a reflection of his repressed memories, is what we know as the Matrix movies.  Their current project, Binary, is over budget and behind schedule.  Thomas’s boss (Jonathan Groff) calls him into his office to give some bad news.  Their parent company, Warner Brothers, is demanding a sequel to The Matrix.  If they aren’t on board, WB will terminate their contracts and make it without them.  What follows is a montage of writing room brainstorming between characters defining what the audience wants.  They want more of the same, but they also want to have their expectations subverted.   They want action, guns, and more guns, but also expect philosophical discussions that will blow their mind and question reality.  Can this movie deliver all that the audience craves?   Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) sums it up best, “Nothing comforts anxiety like a little nostalgia.”

Unfortunately, Lana and team take the nostalgia a bit too far at times.  There are countless split-second flashbacks to the previous films.  These are usually used to represent characters having glimpses of their repressed memories push through.  There are a couple of times it works well but the excessive use is tiring.  One particular character cameo could have been a great moment but is absolutely wasted in indecipherable and pointless ranting.  They exist in the movie only as a call back to the trilogy, something that has already been drummed into the audience.

On the bright side, “Resurrections” does take its source material and do something new with it.  The bones of the lore stays the same, but this movie has a much smaller scope.  Neo is no longer has the fate of the world on his shoulders. He is no longer asked to sacrifice himself for others.  His motivation now is his undying love for Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss).  There’s a woman who visits the coffee shop near his office who reminds him so much of the woman from his video game, but is it really her?  If the Matrix is actually real, does that mean she is alive, or just another construct meant for control?  Does it even matter?

“The Matrix Resurrections” will not resonate with everyone.  It is however a fascinating movie to watch.  There are concepts that turn in on themselves, commentary on the human condition, and thoughts on the drive many of us have for what we will never attain.  It also redefines what it means to be “The One.”  As one character muses early on, “Perhaps this isn’t the story we think it is.”

The Matrix Resurrections