Let’s address the most contentious issue first. This movie isn’t great, but it’s not The Last Jedi bad. Matrix fans aren’t going to be storming the gates in protest, because their beloved characters were assassinated for “the message.” It’s true that Neo is nerfed so that Trinity can take his place. This is annoying because, as I’ve said before, nobody wants to see a Dragon Ball Z spectacle featuring Neo’s powers just so the poor sap could die in obscurity because nothing he did mattered anyway. They didn’t do this, and that is to the writer’s credit.
If there was anybody who deserved a deus ex machina sent by the Social Justice Warriors from on high, it was Trinity. Her decision to go with Neo to the machine city, even though it meant certain death, easily made her the most courageous character in the trilogy. Nobody gave her Matrix Wi-Fi. So, even though, the twist at the end of the film made zero sense, from a narrative standpoint, she earned her miracle. We’re not talking about Rey — Mary-Sue — Skywalker. She’s not a random character with no connection to the things that were before who’s magically able to fix old ships, shoot better, fight better, jump better, drive a boat better… even though she grew up on a desert planet; she can’t do everything better for no reason other than she is the narrative equivalent of a jingling set of keys. Trinity is not Rey. She earned her place in the original trilogy because she suffered with the other characters. I would argue she even earned her position as the new One alongside Neo because she suffered as Neo suffered.
I bring this up because there have been multiple people who have compared this movie to The Last Jedi, and while this movie is by no means good, equivocating it to Rian Johnson’s cinematic abomination is a little harsh.
The real issue with this movie is that it clearly did not want to be made. Over an hour is devoted to Neo’s new life within the Matrix. There is a scene toward the beginning where the new Agent Smith — who is now a corporate bigwig — tells Neo that they are making the Matrix Trilogy. It will be a video game, a new franchise, and the company is going to do this with or without his cooperation. I imagine this is exactly how the pitch went when the studio approached Lana Wachowski. The implications are about as subtle as Neo being called the One and dying, only to rise from the dead. Say what you will about the Wachowskis, subtlety is not their strong suit. After this scene, we get a montage showing all these corporate suits arguing over what the Matrix is and over time redefining “the game” altogether. There’s only one word to describe this sequence, meta.
This reset is noticeable, and it contributes to the contrived nature of the film. Wachowski wants to affirm her characters’ struggles in a world which is being rebooted by force. The way she resolves this dilemma is interesting. When Neo expresses regret because his fight did not end the Matrix, one of characters shows him her pet sentient robots which are literally called sentients. So, the One did not end the Matrix, instead the One created a unity between man and machine. This isn’t transhumanism in the sense that man has merged with machine, but rather, the machines have become, for all intent and purposes, human. They can completely wake up and leave the Matrix if they wish, and now, the free humans are tasked with liberating the machines as well as other humans.
This is interesting, and I suppose it should have been obvious, considering the machines seemed to be practically human anyway by the end of the previous trilogy. But it was a surprising twist anyway, and a clever way of getting around undermining Neo’s previous accomplishments.
As before, none of these details are explained. How the robots are doing any of this remains a constant nagging question throughout the film, but this time, one could arguably be a little more sympathetic about the plot hole because Wachowski is struggling to reestablish a finished franchise without negating the accomplishments of the previous characters.
I have much more to say about the movie, and we will cover those topics as well as go into more details regarding how the machines work, the programs work, and how the main antagonist operates in the next review.
Here are my thoughts on the original Matrix Trilogy:
Bringing you up to date with the Matrix series: Will The Matrix Resurrections (dropped December 22) break the mold? The culturally influential trilogy (control by evil aliens) enjoys a fascinating beginning — but a thud! ending. Can we really escape a world of illusions simply by following our most basic influences? If wisdom can’t help, why should instinct be the answer? (Gary Varner)
The Matrix Reloaded (2003) just did not load properly. Although the second part of the Matrix trilogy offers interesting ideas and exciting action, the confusing plot obscures the concepts it should explore. Free will is hard to explore when, among AIs, Agent Smith can think freely, the Architect can’t grasp the idea, and the Oracle understands but doesn’t have it. (Gary Varner)
The Matrix Revolutions (2003) spins out of control. In Part I of this review of the third film in The Matrix trilogy — anticipating The Matrix: Resurrections (December 22) — we bring you up to date on the story. The plot continues to baffle: How did Neo end up in digital purgatory? How can machines fall in love and produce a child? Answers are awaited.
The Matrix Revolutions churns into a cosmic drama. It turns out to be a conflict between chaos and probability with no apparent moral compass. As fans await The Matrix Resurrection, we begin to sense an outline in The Matrix: Revolutions of the ultimate conflict of human vs. machine.
The Matrix Trilogy: Some Final Thoughts I enjoyed the films and am looking forward to the Matrix Resurrections but there are some things I need to say as a reviewer. The problem with the Matrix trilogy that it tries to say too much, and so the messages conflict when they’re not downright confusing.