“What is real? How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”
These words were spoken by the character Morpheus in 1999’s The Matrix, and ever since it has pondered scholars, fanboys, and conspiracy theorists alike. Every time you believe you come close to an answer, a “deja vu” happens, and everything is altered. This paradox is alive and well in The Matrix Resurrections, the newest addition into The Matrix universe, reuniting director Lana Wachowski with actors Keanu Reeves as Neo and Carrie-Ann Moss as Trinity.
The War for Zion, last seen in The Matrix Revolutions, left both worlds shattered, and our heroes dead, or so we thought. The latter is less true. For more than sixty years, in order to understand emotions and the powers of The One, the machines have kept Neo and Trinity alive, and locked back in the matrix, as ships passing in the night. Neo finds himself once again as Thomas Anderson; a successful game designer who has created the most popular video game of all time. This game is built on memories from the life we saw in the first three films. But to him, he has been unable to distinguish between what is the simulation he built and the reality around him. That is until he broken out by Bugs (newcomer Jessica Henwick) and a program which contains all the memories of Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II replacing Lawrence Fishbourne) in an attempt to inspire the human race to continue its mission of freeing the minds under the control of the machines and ultimately destroying the Matrix. Neo knows that the only way that this can happen is with the help of his other half, Trinity, who is still plugged into the simulation, and thus ensues a rescue mission.
If your general fear was that this film would be straight fan service and a grab for money without a coherent story, you’d be wrong. The idea of multiple versions of the Matrix and multiple iterations of The One were built into The Matrix Reloaded. Since a purge happened in the original simulation with a new one taking its place, a realm of possibility for the new A.I. to be more self aware than its predecessor has been created. And nothing sums up The Matrix Resurrections more than the film itself being entirely self-aware that it is a sequel/reboot film. It keeps all the bones of the franchise, but in its fresh update, has gained something that the previous films lacked; a sense of humor. And at a runtime of two and half hours, needs that in order to give breaks for the audience to reevaluate what the formula of these films truly is.
Even after almost twenty years, The Matrix Resurrections proves the relevancy of its subject matter, and manages to succeed where other legacy sequels have failed. It doesn’t give us a battle for the survival of a species. Instead and more importantly, we get the war for free will. In a world where choice is seemingly an illusion, the climax of this movie boils down to Trinity’s right to choose which reality she wants. This finally gives a character which had been pigeon-holed as the hero’s girlfriend a voice which has been missing since the original 1999 film. It is treated with reverence and respect as it finally gives this beloved badass her due.