Never the easiest franchise to explain, “The Matrix Resurrections” definitely ups the complexity by allowing another meta layer to be factored in on top of all the high octane action sequences and philosophical quandaries. (Yes, there is another layer being added to the “Matrix” soufflé; maybe a few more layers actually.) But what does it ultimately mean? That is the question, one that requires a proper deep dive into “The Matrix Resurrections.” So, without further ado, let’s put on our longest leather duster, grab the most oddly angled sunglasses we can find, and look for the code.
Major spoiler warning for “The Matrix Resurrections.” If you haven’t watched yet, take the blue pill and turn back now!
Down the Rabbit Hole
“The Matrix Resurrections” opens as if none of the events of the original film or the two sequels (“The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions”) happened. Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is back to his mind-numbing office job, this time as a video game designer who – coincidentally – created a trio of games called “The Matrix.” His office is adorned with actual action figures released for the movies and everyone speaks about them as if they followed the basic plot of the movies, even referencing groundbreaking film techniques like “bullet time.” Thomas sees a therapist (Neil Patrick Harris) when he feels his grip on reality start to slip, and it starts to slip big time when he feels a powerful connection to a woman named Tiffany (Carrie Anne-Moss) he glimpses in a coffee shop, and comes into contact with Bugs (Jessica Henwick) and a version of Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II).
Adding even more pressure is the studio (to add another meta layer, it’s actually Warner Bros.) leaning on Anderson to create a new “Matrix” installment. Yes, “The Matrix 4” is very much a plot point in “The Matrix 4.” Eventually Neo is freed from his humdrum existence, and begins to remember who he was – a Luddite freedom fighter that brought a calming peace to the war between humans and machines. Or so he thought. Back in the human world, he meets with Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith under considerable old lady make-up), who informs him that it hasn’t been 20 years since he visited the machine city and brokered peace; it’s been 60 years. The real Morpheus is dead and there was a war waged between the machines, meaning humanity is in a slightly worse place but at least they have some cute, Transformer-y sidekicks now. What’s worse, the machines have corrupted the events of the previous three films, commodified them, and are using them to help control the populace. Free will? Free won’t.
This leaves Neo and the gang (including Bugs and New Morpheus) to try and stop the Matrix’s evil machinations (amongst the many new tricks this time around is a “swam mode” that turns any civilian into a killer) and, more crucially wake up another human trapped in the simulated landscape of the Matrix: Trinity.
At some point, it is revealed that Neo’s Analyst (Harris) is, in fact, a bad guy. He’s the closest thing that we get to the Architect in this movie; a godlike figure who has dominion over the Matrix and took over after the Architect fell. (Also Neo’s boss, played by Jonathan Groff, is Agent Smith, who’s been banished to a piece of code in this version of The Matrix) Anyway, the Analyst explains that Neo and Trinity were resurrected because their yearning for one another gives off so much power; their juice is very much worth the squeeze. There was just one problem – if they got too close, they were too powerful. Their love was all consuming.
That leaves Neo with a simple objective (and gives “The Matrix Resurrections” some much-needed narrative direction) – they have to wake up Trinity. Just like Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, their status as a power couple will be solidified. And they will be unstoppable. Of course, the Matrix and all of its sinister influences do everything they can to stop Neo and his motley crew from succeeding.
But, hey, this is Neo we’re talking about. He’s the One. And he’s hellbent on freeing Trinity.
Trinity’s New Powers
Of course, Neo and Trinity reconnect, with some help from Bugs and the others. There’s a thrilling third act set piece when they both are riding through the city while the Matrix is throwing everything it can at them (literally – the “horde” activation means people are jumping from their windows and landing with a visceral splat). Once Trinity knows who she is in the real world, she can be awoken in the human world too so, yes, she gets out of her vat of sickly pink goo.
What’s more, Trinity is really the one in this scenario – she is the one who can fly, her powers are more vast than Neo’s, and she generally has a better grip on what she can do (and how that can impact the system). It’s a lovely notion, an inverse of everything that came before in “The Matrix,” and there is probably an element of the autobiographical, as director Lana Wachowski transitioned between the making of the last movie and now. Fully empowered, Lana and Trinity can take on the world.
Once Neo and Trinity are reunited, anything is possible. They visit the home of the Analyst, bursting through his wall. This is appropriate since earlier in the movie he described resurrecting Neo and Trinity as being like renovating a house, “it took twice as long and was twice as expensive.” There isn’t a grand declaration or a violent showdown, instead they promise to “change some things,” making the Matrix in their image. And with this relatively happy ending, you get the feeling that there are many more stories to be told in this world… and beyond.