There’s a problem with sci-fi purists.

But purists were bashing Matrix: Resurrections before it hit theaters. I was skeptical of the skepticism. Perhaps some GenXers feel the stylistic changes, which represent shifts in youth culture, were an affront to their beloved subcultures (which existed before they claimed them)? This isn’t a litmus test to me: I was 13 in 1999. The only film I remember enjoying more than the original was Fight Club.

Still, I attempted to see it from their perspective.

The trailer showed less leather/pleather/PVC 90’s cybergoth club gear. Keanu’s sporting his more mature John Wick style: he’s aging gracefully, full beard, looking emotionally distressed. Then, there’s Grace Slick’s “White Rabbit.” That’s an overall oeuvre piece for the films as a narrative whole, but it hearkened overtly to Matrix.

Still, it intrigued, so, I spent eleven bucks for the ticket. The tale got me going. But how many familiar elements will hardcore Matrix fans part with before they pan the film entirely?

That’s begun happening in the court of public opinion, unfortunately; a shame, because there’s considerable merit this cybergoth sibling can offer. It might even be an improvement.

I hope to visit several elements which develop the series in innovative directions. Purists won’t be satisfied and endlessly criticize (remember what they said about Revolutions?). But there are drawbacks of the new flick to discuss, ones Lana could improve upon should she revisit the project.

Nostalgia, Nostalgia, Nostalgia

This greets audiences out of the gate. It’s good the first sequences aren’t long, because their addiction to nostalgia and meta-memory is laid on thick. Modals allowing audiences to view variation scenes from the Matrix seems an okay idea. However, it’s recycling nostalgia.

We see flashbacks from all three flicks through Neo’s perspective peppered throughout Resurrections, appearing at one point on a theater screen. Why? It’s meta, I like that, but why?

Maybe Resurrections can’t win. Purists want the original, so maybe Lana stuck the original in to satisfy them. Resurrections includes other meta-style references to her creative struggles, such as vapid millennial-and-Gen-Z coworkers discussing the original’s meaning and references to distributor Warner Brothers’ strictures.

Still, I’d suggest to her: trust this audience.

Resurrections Takes Mental Health Seriously, Not as Plot Device

Remember when Thomas Anderson questions his sanity and segues into meeting Trinity in the depths of an underground industrial bar while NIN’s “Heresy” blares?

That’s using mental health as a trope to progress the plot.

In Resurrections, Anderson suffers quietly at the top. He’s got a great career as a famous video game developer, except he’s pressured endlessly to make the same game. He had a breakdown where he tried to leap off the edge of a skyscraper attempting to fly, so he’s dependent upon an analyst (the Analyst). He downs blue pills in hopes his suffering will vanish, then stops when that suffering continues. He’s unsure what’s real and what’s imaginary. Soon, he’s drinking vodka from the bottle atop that skyscraper.

Mental health struggles are plot device in Matrix, they’re plot in Resurrections. Good exchange.

Club’s Not Dead, it Just Grew Up

Remember when Trinity’s kicking proverbial ass in a leathery catsuit? There’s no give in the fabric, but she’s moving like a ninja? You nodded your head not thinking how that can’t happen?

You see that as a modal, a trial program.

While goth gear is alive and kicking in Resurrections, perhaps someone realized Matrix originally went overboard. Bugs, for example, is initially portrayed bedecked in looser-fitting gear which permits her to move. Slick black styles return, but they vary. Even hippie goth rears its head. This isn’t important just because it avoids objectifying curves. It’s also more realistic to see characters move in them.


Both Matrix and Resurrections has great racial/ethnic diversity in the cast, but I’m not referring to that.

Blue, which represents chemical rejection of awareness, works in Resurrections to break up black. I love black, but pops of blue kept my eyes from being exhausted of the same black-white-sometimes-tech-green palates of the three previous films.

And I couldn’t help being delighted at the new Morpheus’s plush vintage mustard-and-marmalade suit.

Love in the Time of Your 50’s

Before Thomas Anderson remembers his identity, he recognizes a soccer mom, Tiffany, though they’re strangers at a coffee house.

She’s married with kids, but they enjoy an Americano together anyways. They have a serendipitous conversation. There’s a subtle, slow-burning chemistry. Anderson doesn’t lord status over her, she’s open to exploring his game. Neither yet remember she’s Trinity.

It’s a mature approach to attraction. We never learnt why Trinity and Neo originally developed such attraction, except that Trinity believed she’d love the One. Now, we know her belief wasn’t blind. Their conversation is marked by radical openness that leads to organic chemistry.

Agent Smith: New, Improved, or Just Different?

Why so few noticed Hugo Weaving was impersonating William S. Burroughs in his portrayal of Agent Smith, I’ll never understand, because it felt obvious. When Weaving breaks into monologues, his voice is skin crawling. But the reedy drone is sometimes…irritating, too.

Jonathan Groff’s a welcome change; he’s equally business and casual, he’s not obviously an agent, the character design toys with concepts of programmable humanity. He’s not the only one around ensuring Thoman Anderson forgets his past.

Groff develops his own creepy. His voice is subdued, chilly, but not robotic. His behavior is manipulative, not mechanical. And interestingly, he invades Neo’s physical space in ways bordering uncomfortably on erotic and controlling. He officially weirded me out. Don’t remind parents he was the voice of Kristoff from Frozen.


During scenes when the team brings Neo back into awareness of himself, and again when Neo trains to use his powers again, there are long stretches of didactic monologue.

The original had identical problems. Matrix’s saving grace was Laurence Fishburne’s voice. Without Fishburne, the woodenness of such monologues become apparent.  I fault Resurrections’ adherence to its predecessor. I regard Fishburne among few actors who can make Shakespearean speeches seem animated. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II had chances to embody that majesty, but alas.

Bullet Time, Revisited

Remember in the early 00’s, gaming with your D&D group, you suggested your character could cast bullet time, but your DM doesn’t allow it, saying that counts as godmodding? Because it does.

Bullet time always seemed like magic, not based upon any actual martial arts portrayed in Matrix. Neo’s/Trinity’s powers were tantamount to cop out. If other characters utilize it rarely, why does the pair constantly utilize it?

I’m glad bullet time changed. It now slows time at controlled intervals, giving characters just enough to turn, twist, rotate, or reposition. This changes only when the Analyst reverse-engineers it, mocking its limitations by giving a whole speech while Neo attempts to rescue Trinity from harm. More about him later.

Earth Mothers, Grandmothers, Inclusion

Zion was destroyed following a civil war the machines waged between themselves. Some machines and programs fled in the aftermath. Io’s home to all independent beings, regardless of species. It’s got an atmosphere that mimics Earth’s, allowing for semi-natural food growth. This solves a niggling problem left unanswered by Matrix: food, even “artificial,” comes from organic sources.

Niobe’s the oldest surviving human from before the 60-year gap between films. She holds authority. In Matrix, authority was afforded to traditional masculine “leader” personalities. Now, authority derives from life experience.

This is a step in the right direction: Revolutions clung to inherent differences between machine, human, and program. Machines and programs can participate equally in independence. This suggests humans have done what they can to overcome biases based on species and recognize they can’t create paradise alone. Ecopunk themes, where technology is used to facilitate thriving ecosystems, takes forefront here.

Choice vs. Faith/Destiny (and Religion)

When Neo figures himself out, Trinity (Tiffany) is still in the system and physically in her pod. Per her words, she’s a mom and loves working on motorcycles, so she’s too tired to question reality, but she’s intrigued to try Anderson’s game. She thinks she resembles Trinity. This gives Neo the niggling feeling she’s trying to remember.

Neo could force her out of the system, probably. That’s not what he wants. Wherein the first Matrix messed around considerably with the paradox between destiny/faith/religion and choice, Neo is squarely on the side of choice. He knows Trinity can choose, so he wants to know her choice.

Something I liked (and others will dislike) is the religious debates are abandoned in Resurrections. The prior three films sometimes felt like world religions/mythology/philosophy undergraduate coursework. Resurrections need not question faith, only one’s willingness to decide their own reality.

Neo trusts Trinity’s decision so much he hacks a deal with the Analyst: if Trinity refuses to go with him after he asks her, he’ll go back in his pod for good. That’s not because he knows the future. It’s because he trusts her to make that decision herself.

Feral Programs on the Loose!

I rarely feel comfortable laughing my tail off in theaters, but seeing the Merovingian’s return as a feral, raving trash warlock is hilarious.

Oh, the Analyst

I hold an unpopular opinion: I’m torn on Neil Patrick Harris’s portrayal of the Analyst. He’s manipulative as only medical professionals can be. He pumps Neo full of banal, feelgood answers, preventing him from awakening. He’s toxic positivity embodied. Had he remained nauseatingly prim, aloof, and subtle, I would’ve loved him.

The speech beforementioned, where he stretches bullet time to ridiculous degrees killed that. Harris has great comedic timing, but it’s cartoony.

But boy, I love his program, because it’s a mindfuck. He almost has audiences believing he rebuilt the deceased Neo and Trinity to keep them in constant emotional conflict, distanced from one another, to serve as energy sources.

I’m a huge fan of psychology. It’s easy to criticize the first Analyst’s methods, who manipulated Neo via operant conditioning: he manipulates Neo by doling out rewards and punishments. This Analyst manipulates by utilizing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. He stops the pair from growing by making them constantly long for connection, then constantly denies it.

That got in my head.

I’m torn. If Resurrections had avoided cartoony editing, Harris would’ve been perfect. Alas.

Leaps of Choice

The lovers are cornered on the skyscraper, hold hands, leap; guess which one decides to fly?

Audiences need not ask, though; the pair has had experiences together neither could’ve had alone. They aren’t the people they would’ve been had they never met. Their suffering was worth something if it drove them to resist and grow. This doesn’t negate their individuality, but it acknowledges that only so much personal growth can be achieved without relationships. Perhaps growth doesn’t lead to superhuman ascension, but instead to radically honest relationships which inspire us to welcome rather than resist change.

Who decides they fly? It’s not important once they’ve acknowledged their unity.

I’d no idea how much I needed that cinematic choice before I knew it was ideal.

This, Though

We hear a final declaration of terms of reality from the lovers to the Analyst, in a punk teenager way.

Fine; I was a punk, too. But why? This has the vibe of an inverted after-school special with a rebellious middle finger message to “the man,” “authority,” or “society” (thank you, Joker). It changes the end of The Breakfast Club so the goth artist stays weird instead of adapting or considering maturity.

We matured with the couple, who finally have the radically open, honest relationship they’ve deserved. Why? I guess an adolescent rebellion postcard tied with a “we can change everything” bow must do.

Okay, I like it. Everyone’s sorta their teenage selves at heart. I didn’t need it, though.


More’s going right than wrong in Resurrections, so purists who panned this film are likely just nostalgic for The Matrix. That’s ironic: they resist the evolution of a series about self-realization. That being considered, Resurrections is an exciting chapter for the series, but any subsequent additions could warrant some carefully considered fine tuning.