The Matrix Resurrections is the newest installment in the fabled Matrix franchise which was a trilogy that originally concluded with The Matrix Revolutions in 2003 almost twenty years ago. The newest film brought back original director and writer, Lana Wachowski and both leading actors from the original films in an effort to capture as much story integrity as possible with an updated feel.
But can the 20-year-old cult (or perhaps even mainstream) classic be brought back to life with The Matrix Resurrections? The Conservative Critic will ask: Is it entertaining? Does it have artistic/intellectual value? And Is it Liberal Propaganda?
The Conservative Critic Meter Check: The Matrix Resurrections
Overall Rating: Decent
Overall, The Matrix Resurrections is a nostalgic and fun watch which pays a lot of respect to the original story. Leaning heavily on the star power of its lead, Keanu Reeves, who has made a recent re-ascent to star power with his exceedingly successful John Wick franchise, the film chooses a love story to anchor its rebirth. Exploring how Reeve’s Neo/Thomas Anderson and Trinity played by Carrie-Ann Moss (mainly known for the Matrix) are two sides of one powerful coin, The Matrix Resurrections gives audiences something to root for outside of the already fairly gripping political narrative.
The new characters are woven in with dignity and homage to their original counterparts and the acting on the part of the new cast hit well above the weight of the franchise which is known more for visual effects and action sequences than nuanced performances.
However, the crafting of the film had some significant problems including rampant villain monologuing and shattered fourth walls. Wachowski seems to fall into the oh-so-common trap of believing her audience is not capable of understanding a complex storyline without it being spelled out for us and it seriously hurts the overall impact of the material.
Is it entertaining?
Rating: Action-packed fun
It’s long at two and half hours but it doesn’t feel like it. The Matrix Resurrections kicks off with a brand new character facing an action packed sequence and big surprise twist. By the twenty minute mark the audience is deep into the web (or code) with major twists, tons of humor and plenty of action.
One of the crucial victories of the film’s entertainment value is its ability to provide fight and action sequences that are diverse in scale, participation and style. Audiences are given martial arts/kung fu style one on ones, motorcycle and car chases, zombie style swarms, team on team and more. Wachowski is able to blend all of these styles together with signature “matrix bending” supernatural effects that give the viewer an exciting and never boring experience without jarring them around inconsistencies.
There is nothing slow or boring about The Matrix Resurrections and entertainment value is its top asset.
Does it have artistic/intellectual value?
Rating: Some problems
The Matrix Resurrections is by no means a train wreck. The film has all of its trademark strengths including visual and sound effects, fight choreography and absolutely stunning costume design. Additionally, the new additions to the cast; Jessica Henwick (Game of Thrones, The Defenders) as Bugs, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Black Mirror, Trial of the Chicago Seven) as Morpheus and Jonathan Groff (Hamilton, Glee) as Smith are very strong in their performances and bring quite a bit of unexpected acting credibility to the new installment.
However, there are quite a few problems. First and foremost, the villain monologuing is beyond amateurish. Multiple villains at multiple times spend minutes of screen time detailing their maniacal plot and revealing exposition to the viewer. The film even utilizes “slow-mo” to achieve these little expository tirades and it is rather bad form. Very bad actually. The scenes read like a bad children’s Saturday morning cartoon.
Additionally, the film breaks the fourth wall a lot. In a few places, the loss of the fourth wall is fun and tongue and cheek and works to ease the viewers into a film no one expected to get made and which very easily could have been a disaster. But like all good things, too much can be a problem. The Matrix Resurrections very nearly turns to the audience and winks ala Ferris Bueller or “Jim” from The Office. The effect is cheesy and sort of yanks viewers out of a conceptually intricate and politically cavernous environment which is much better enjoyed with full immersion.
Finally, the addition of Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, A Series of Unfortunate Events) as The Analyst is a major drag on the overall suspension of disbelief. Harris is a wonderful talent in almost all he achieves but as part of a technological government and alien conspiracy his style simply does not work. It was as if at any moment the film was to become The Matrix Musical: Code of Many Colors. There is something about Harris’s melodic delivery that evokes only the lowest of stakes.
Is it liberal propaganda?
Rating: Red pilled
The term “red-pilled” is used by conservatives to describe the act of learning the truth and either becoming conservative or turning on your government and the liberal media/elite. For example, when a popular music artist who typically espouses liberal values comes out against mandatory vaccines we would consider her having been “red-pilled.”
The concept of “red pill” comes from the original Matrix trilogy where humans trapped inside the Matrix must take a red pill in order to be unplugged and come into the real world. The alternative is a blue pill which allows the trapped human to stay inside the safe and predictable lie (essentially).
The newest installment leans heavily on the concept of red pilling. The idea of choosing freedom against safety and consistency is a primary theme. In fact, the overlords of the new Matrix system are confident that even if the Matrix is changed and broken that the captives will actually choose to stay and not take the red pill because they prefer the lie which makes them feel safer and which feels easier and their theory is left open ended.
The whole movie feels extremely relevant as conservatives fight against discrimination and governments continue to lock down and imprison their own people – keeping them from basic resources like grocery shopping, dining out, religious services, public serivces and more – if they do not comply with their scientifically shaky vaccine standards. Much like the characters in the movie, we have to ask ourselves if we are happier in the cage where our basically happy lives are assigned to us or if we want the sometimes ugliness and danger of a free mind.
Even with its problems, the Matrix is a nostalgic and poignant movie which reminds us to daily ask ourselves if the red pill or the blue pill is a real choice at all.