I really LIKE the NEW MATRIX

I may have given my text a somewhat hook-and-loop title, but, take my word for it, it is completely in line with my impressions after already two screenings of The Matrix Resurrections.

Rafał Donica

13 December 2022

matrix resurrections lana wachowski keanu reeves matrix 4

I may have given my text a somewhat hook-and-loop title, but, take my word for it, it is completely in line with my impressions after already two screenings of The Matrix Resurrections.  So, if anyone dislikes Lana Wachowski new film very much, they can turn off the receiver at this point, because adjusting won’t do anything. First of all, Resurrections enchanted me with the visual side. The vivid, natural, saturated, contrasting colors, so much in opposition to the familiar greenish sino sadly somewhat depressing, yet atmospheric tones of the original trilogy, pleased my eyes with almost every frame. That more colorful and, so to speak, joyful? So what, Terminator: Genisys was also more colorful than Cameron’s films! It was, by the way, more colorful than Teletubbies, okay, Genisys is a poor example…. To sum up, however, the near-saturation color scheme of the new Matrix; if Sister Wachowski had remained faithful to the aesthetics of the trilogy, there would also be a whine that how come, 20 years have passed, and we get the same thing for the fourth time and the same way?

The special effects of the fourth installment of Neo and Trinity’s adventures, while not as revolutionary or sensational as in the first part – full agreement on that, after all, the odds were against it – at least attempted to show something new/surprising (such as the formal experiments with slow-motion & freeze-frames featuring Neil Patrick Harris having a great time with the role), which 99% of action cinema productions mashed together as if from under one Matrix, don’t do today. Therefore, I like here both the shooting on the train, and all the kung-fu fights, and the entire extended final sequence, headed by the scenes on the roof and the helicopter fire. The visual layer here is at times in its own fully conscious way, unrealistic, as if theatrical, but always, in every frame, polished and simply beautiful, as if shot no longer in 8, but in some sky-high 16K. Recently I was so taken by the quality of the picture probably only the fourth Mad Max. By the way, just like in George Miller’s superhit, the plot of Resurrections can quietly recede into the background, because this is where my dears watch and this is where my dears admire. Which is not at all to say that the script is bad in the Matrix four, because bad it is not, at most silly, but in a likable – at least for me – way. I’ll say more, Resurrections is – again, for me – a sequel (here they’ll say Donica has gone completely stupid) much better than the bloated Reactivation and bloated Revolution, sequels to the stiff-as-a-pile Asia. Insincere in this their artificial sublimity, this their strong-arming in doomed attempts to match the original.

Those films seemed as if they were standing at attention, copying the technical plays from the 1999 masterpiece over and over again, and forcibly adding more and more depth and more planes of Neo’s perceived messianism to cover up a plot void that was actually there. In addition, they did it in a damned boring, overstuffed and exaggerated manner, mannered to the point of pain. There, they even crammed Neo into an uncomfortably tight coat down to the floor, taken out alive from a… a coat store, making the Neo-Cossack known from One into the Neo-Stiff known from Two. Four does essentially the same thing, that is, it spins a mill around the theme of The Chosen One, full agreement, but first of all it does it much more nimbly, although it is layered more than the first Matrix, and even more than the most advanced Photoshop retouching. Second, in Four, Neo also seemingly wears the same coat as in Two, but already unbuttoned, making Neo no longer – literally and figuratively – tense. And, most importantly, Neo in Resurrection completely mows down all those prophecy-mediums, he’s not interested in being any kind of chosen-son or fighting machines (-sras?), he’s here just and simply looking for love. The third sequel to The Matrix thus seems not to kneel before the 1999 film, fall on its face before its cult status, or erect an altar to its gigantic influence on 21st century action cinema.

Lana Wachowski knew that she had no chance of measuring up or jumping to the level both technically and, above all, in terms of the groundbreaking plot of the original film, so she decided to take on the subject, so to speak, from the ass side, and play with the Wachowskis’ universe without holding back. The result is an intertextual play on cinema, opening more doors of reality/illusion (?) for the characters and viewers, and at the same time a visual feast for Matrix fans, nonchalantly turning everything we were shown in the original films on its head. The Four, by the way, is built on a concept I love in cinema, that is, playing a game with the viewer under the title of what is a dream, what is awake, what is a game, what is true and what is false. Here, even Neo’s long hair and beard aren’t what they seem (but not that they don’t exist, like a spoon), because just when we think it’s a stylization meant to evoke associations with the Son of God, Chad Stahelski (played here by Trinity’s husband, named Chad, by the way) the god-creator of another trilogy starring Keanu Reeves enters the café, and looks at Neo as if he’s just deserted him from the set of the fourth John Wick installment. He resurrects the casket structure of game within a game, movie within a movie (or perhaps vice versa), mocking the endless reboot, prequel, spin-off, and reheating of chops in Hollywood, himself reheating as many as three chops from 20 years ago at once. So she leads Lana, and Neo and us, into consternation, as her film seems to be laughing at itself, anticipating potential crowds of critics in the process, and playing to the audience’s unrealistic expectations.

And matter of fact, Lana Wachowski transmuting the film trilogy into a trilogy of interactive video game series (passing the authorship of the idea to the machines), tips us off to a clue that I sorely missed in the 2003 sequels, that all this, in all its intricacy, awesomeness and multiplicity of interpretations, may be nothing more than a wet dream of Thomas Anderson, who is still dozing in front of the computer, where he fell asleep at the beginning of part one (that’s what I figured, though I’m probably not the first). And so to himself this Thomas, a pale-haired hacker, whose muscles have weakened not at all from lying in a capsule, but from dozing in front of the computer for 24 hours, dreamed that without any effort, after swallowing a magical, harsh pill from a stranger, he becomes a superhero, a savior of mankind, who learns kung-fu in a few seconds without dropping a drop of sweat, and flies, because he does. That’s how I’ve always liked to think of Neo and the Matrix, that it’s one big mockumentary, and in a way, the four in that direction, that Neo wrote himself, boldly looks, which I liked a lot.

Also, the fact of using the great track White Rabbit by the band Jefferson Airplane in the film, can save Matrix 4 for itself on the scoreboard. This track capitally built the atmosphere already in the trailer, and it does the same in the film, being for me such an epicenter, the heart driving the new Matrix. I was worried that the finished film wouldn’t include the capital shot of Neo in the bathtub with a duck on his head, but fortunately it did, too, and probably has a major plot significance, which I’m still working on discovering. Critics after the first screenings, as we also reported on our site, predicted that the film would divide audiences, that some would be enthralled and enthralled, while others would turn their noses up in displeasure, and leave the theater in search of lost time. Yes, somewhere in there the fourth part balances on the verge of overkill or self-parody, and also as a cinematic misfire can be seen – which I also understand, and with the disappointed viewers and critics of the film I do not intend to discuss at all. For me, however, Resurrections remains a tasty piece of cinema, treating ostensibly about itself, and in fact telling, in a surprisingly romantic way, the oldest story in the history of the X muse, because it is centered on the great love of two people who have to find each other in the end despite tremendous adversity. A love story that – literally – wings, pushing all that trivia about the war against machines into the background.

Rafał Donica

Rafał Donica

Since watching "Blade Runner", he has been passionate about cinema, loves "Akira", "Drive", "Escape from New York", "North by Northwest", the underrated "The Hateful Eight" and "Terrifier 2". Author of the book "Frankenstein 100 years in cinema". Founder and editor-in-chief (in the years 1999 - 2012) of the Polish film portal FILM.ORG.PL. Since 2016, a professional reportage photographer.

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