Can Everyone Just Please Calm Down About The Matrix Resurrections?
Full disclosure: I like The Matrix. No, I love it. Because the Wachowski Sisters' sprawling, leather-clad epic forced me, then a pie-eyed nine-year-old watching it way past bedtime at a barely audible volume, to reassess the world around me. Things weren't what they seemed! Everything is broken! They're lying to you!!! Not many films do that, and fewer still tapped into The Culture's deep-rooted, pre-millennial anxieties about tech, and power, and identity like The Matrix did. So, you can understand the excitement surrounding Resurrections, the fourth instalment in Keanu Reeves' rage against the Machines. The series is landmark science fiction. All the old gang are reunited. Everyone loves Keanu. And I, A Fan, am here to administer the biggest red pill of all: The Matrix universe is corrupted beyond repair.
And it always has been. While the first instalment met rave reviews and set a new temperature for slo-mo, clinical, emotionless action, both Reloaded and Revolutions were, actually, pretty toilet. The former complicated what was a digestible, latex-smooth plot with subplots about rogue, Riviera-accented software and Monica Bellucci wanting to mack on with Reeves (fair play to her). The latter was a straight-up masterclass in anti-climax as the ongoing war culminated in a lazy, last-minute plea deal between Neo and a few robots that made up the human face of the Machine City's overlord (which, depressingly, is referred to as the 'Deus Ex Machina' within The Matrix canon). Like so many promising starts, the series was kneecapped by the classic one-two punch of lore and more; its own mythology became nonsensical as the films went on, and the studio, as studios so often do, pumped the film with more action, more voiceovers, more novelty.
None of that bodes well for Resurrections. Just as its predecessors became an Emmental of plot holes and stinky dialogue, there's every reason to believe that this entry will follow suit. Carrie-Anne Moss's Trinity, despite being riddled with shrapnel and missiles, is set to return. Reeves, despite having his dying body carried away by a shoal of techno cephalopods, is alive and well. Resurrections, despite being released some 18 years after Revolutions, is still wheeling out the same nostalgic narcotics that get fans all suggestible: the red and blue pills, the skinned-over mouths, the kung fu, the horizontal rain, the shadowy Agents (who were supposedly deleted from the system upon the trilogy's end). There's really nothing new here.
The close of The Matrix wasn't the one we wanted, but it's the one we got. The full stop was clear enough. Zion was saved. It's easy to think, then, that this upcoming entry is just another effort by big studios to get bums on seats, by rebooting films from a time when we actually went to go see them. Hollywood profits on nostalgia now. There have been three different Spider-Man franchises. Bill & Ted had a half-arsed revival. Even Harrison Ford, on the eve of becoming an octogenarian, is going to try and convince us that his Indiana Jones is still more than able to barrel-roll between train carriages as he cracks his whip once again in an upcoming fifth untitled film. The health insurance alone must be absurd.
We'll cast your mind back to Resurrections' development stage. Only Lana Wachowski, one half of the sibling directorial duo, has signed on. Back in 2015, during the campaign trail for Jupiter Ascending (a campy, grotesque sci-fi dud that's worse than anything faced by Neo and the gang), the missing Wachowski, Lilly, called a fourth Matrix instalment "a particularly repelling idea in these times". She wasn't wrong.
And yet, we go. Because in these miserable times, we want the simpler joys of films made before Netflix, and iPhones, and the Bezos space age. The Matrix Resurrections is very much a reminder of that. There is also the cult of Keanu: a global fandom that rightly stans a man who is said to be one of the nicest in Hollywood. But just as the original Matrix film was bruised by its successors, the approaching entry might do untold damage. Resurrections, ironically, might just be the final nail in the coffin.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by Esquiremag.ph editors.