Thomas Anderson runs into a familiar lady at a coffee shop.
Directed by Lana Wachowski
Starring Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss
Review by Jon Kissel
As informed by Morpheus, who’s actually a computer program siding with humans, and Bugs, all of Neo’s Matrix state has been carefully constructed just for him by his psychiatrist, who now runs the whole Matrix as the Analyst and is shockingly the villain in bright blue glasses. Therapy comes in as such a ruse that Lana Wachowski might be a Scientologist. A machine civil war broke out after Revolutions, and the Analyst won, subsequently destroying the human city of Zion and banishing old programs like the Oracle and the Architect. In the Analyst’s new Matrix, Neo and Trinity were both cloned and kept in pods next to each other, which somehow generates a more efficient electrical output. Agent Smith was also reincarnated as Smith in some kind of package deal. As in the original trilogy, Neo is unwilling to sacrifice his love for Trinity in exchange for a lessened state of human survival, and he reenters the Matrix to convince Tiffany of her real purpose, while Bugs concocts a plan to steal her body from its goop pod.
As a reader can tell from my petering out on the plot details, Resurrections passes a point where all the history and all the jargon and all of Wachowski’s meta frustrations with Warner Brothers wear me out. I don’t doubt that rewatches would fill in some gaps about this or that cloudy detail. I’m sure that Wachowski and co-writers/past collaborators on Cloud Atlas and Sense8 David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon churned out a clockwork script that fits together. Their film, however, does not make me care enough to decipher it. The Matrix had rules brought to vivid and concise life. It also had stakes for the characters, and a sense that they were fighting a losing battle unless everything somehow manages to go their way in an organic and believable fashion, and even then, some bit of magic i.e. a kiss bringing someone back to life was going to be necessary. Characters died, and even though a lot of them were C-list sidekicks, they made impressions and their absences were felt. As Switch famously said, not like this. Plans work with minimal interference, or care taken to show how they were executed. My understanding is a lot of the supporting cast is from Sense8, a factoid that guarantees that I will never watch that show based on how wooden and acharismatic they are. Per the film itself, if you want the kind of coherent action that Resurrections wholly lacks, you’re a fool and a simpleton who’s being drugged by unseen masters that want you docile, thus giving Resurrections an out to have incoherent, choppy fight scenes performed by actors with no distinguishing characteristics.
Much like Blade Runner 2049, another long-gestating follow-up, the remake rests on the continuation of a misjudged romance. Keanu Reeves is a physical presence in his films and a worthy action star who sure is beloved by a lot of people, but I have never been convinced of his general acting abilities. He and Carrie Anne Moss, who is a much better actor, don’t have chemistry in the Matrix films. The films never convince that they’re in love for any reason beyond some unseen force demanded they should be, whether it’s the Oracle or the Wachowskis themselves. Their final separation in Revolutions goes on so long that it becomes a joke. It’s the franchise’s fatal flaw when so much of the plot rests on their motivations, and it continues to undermine Resurrections, a film building towards an ultimate reunion that does not move the needle in any way. Resurrections also thinks having Trinity be the one who can fly is enough of a twist on the old dynamic. What if she wanted to stay in the Matrix, or what if Neo returned to it to save her life? The original trilogy rests on his decision to not take the Architect’s deal to prevent her death, what if he had to take the Analyst’s deal for the same reason? Instead, a bland couple gets back together and a bad cover of a Rage Against the Machine song is played over the credits.
Wachowski has been quoted as saying that resurrecting Neo and Trinity helped her through her grief after her parents died. ‘It felt good to bring these two people back to life,’ to paraphrase her. Paul Thomas Anderson made Magnolia after his father died. Kirsten Johnson made Dick Johnson is Dead. Resurrections is brave in how it’s a purging therapy session of Lana Wachowski, where all her frustrations with filmmaking and parental loss and creative ownership are digested at a cost of $190 million, but in fact, to butcher a phrase from Martin Scorsese, the most personal filmmaking might be the most true, but that doesn’t guarantee I want to take in that truth. For all it’s underlined profundity about desire and fear making sheeple, a term this film actually uses, that’s not a profound statement at all from anyone who’s considered how advertising works, or has seen Mad Men. You don’t get to convince me that your movie’s meaningful when the Analyst’s cat is named Déjà vu, or the coffee shop is Simulatte. Of course, those are things a hacky writer would put in their construction and we’re in a circle again and I’ve got a headache because Wachowski wanted Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne Moss to hold hands again. C-