If we’re taking the blue pill on the one hand, yes. The Matrix Resurrections is a bad movie. This isn’t to say that it can’t be enjoyed, isn’t somewhat nostalgic, or doesn’t attempt to bring the franchise into the modern era. It’s simply to say that the acting, action, and atmosphere do not meet a certain standard. If we want to see how far the rabbit hole goes with the red pill, then there is a possibly of a lot more going on here. I would more accurately say that this movie is masterfully crafted to conduct analysis while manipulating the masses. That it does not judge its success on movie scores or awards. The purpose of this film cannot be found in the lackluster action, puzzling plot, or uncomfortable acting. It’s found in the dialogue. Excuse me, monologues. Through the broken third wall it’s painfully clear to see that the creators will not or cannot give the fans what they want. That they seemingly don’t care either. Ultimately The Matrix Resurrections has only one goal, and that’s to get an emotional reaction out of the viewer whether it’s good or bad. Oh yeah, spoilers ahead.
If you didn’t catch the heavy handed metaphors in this film, allow my attempt at dissecting them. The film itself serves as one big metaphor between the franchise and the company that owns it. This is all throughout the film but I’ll be focusing on the scene where Neil Patrick Harris’ character aptly named “The Analyst” explains the big plot twist. In this metaphor, I believe Neo and Trinity halfway represent their characters in the franchise and of course Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss as well. I’m guessing everyone else in some way represents the audience, while “The Analyst” serves as the face of Warner Brothers. The Analyst resurrects Neo and Trinity in order to create a new Matrix that manipulates the people inside through their emotions to keep them asleep instead of trying to give them a perfect simulation logically. The biggest take away from his speech is this line, “Turns out in my Matrix the worse we treat you, the more we manipulate you, the more energy you produce”.
While I am side-eyeing the whole blame the boss angle to why the movie is the way it is, It wouldn’t be farfetched to think that this is how Warner Brothers feels about their audience. If we take the receptions of the majority of their superhero movies in the past decade it’s clear that being upset does not detract people from watching a movie. As The Analyst put it, “Desire and Fear baby”. It could be that our desire to get what we want lowers our thresholds and expectations in films, and our fear of missing out keeps us coming back even if we know better. We are always somewhere in the middle and comfortable with the lackluster metaphorical Matrix. Whether people enjoy the movie or not isn’t nearly as important as getting an emotional reaction out of them. Apparently these emotions are easy to manipulate too.
If the point is to simply get a big reaction then how could this movie not be a masterpiece? From the cringe brainstorm scene in the beginning, to the robo-pets that fist bump, strange corporate casual Smith, Morpheus randomly summoning a martini in the dojo scene, something is sure to hit some kind of nerve. They seem to be going out of their way to do everything anti-Matrix. I found myself absolutely shocked at how misrepresented and nonchalant the entire movie was. They even made me question reality again. “Is this real?”, “Am I really watching this?”. Did I think the movie would be mind blowing, no. I did think it would “feel” like they at least tried though.
The way scenes progressed as though it were a MTV spoof completely jarred me. If this was the goal it’s impressive how emotionally disturbed I am, I guess the only bad press really is no press. They try to clean it up at the end of the movie but It doesn’t matter that Trinity basically becomes The One, it doesn’t matter that Trinity and Neo defeat the Analyst or Warner Brothers or whomever Harris’s character was supposed to represent, no hopeful outlook flying off into the sunset scene can save this or future installments done like this. Instead of being hopeful that the next one will be good, angry that this one wasn’t, or even satisfied if you enjoyed it. I suggest we don’t play whatever weird game this movie wants us to. Instead we need to take the red pill, return to the real world, and support actual Sci-Fi movies worth our time.