The Matrix: Resurrections


The Matrix: Resurrections is a deep onion that rewards multiple viewings. Much like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it takes the structure of the first movie and updates it. Thomas Anderson is a video game developer that made three classic video games, called the Matrix trilogy. Warner Brothers, who owns the Matrix trilogy, wants to make a fourth installment, with or without Neo. Much like how Neo questioned reality in the 1999 original, Resurrections has Thomas Anderson questioning his own sanity. Seeing glitches in real life, refusing to take blue pills. He poured his whole life into the Matrix Trilogy, and now assumes a part of him is stuck there. This is a new tactic by the machines, to confuse Neo and by extension the audience.

Thomas Anderson’s insecurity culminates in the red pill scene. For a moment, I didn’t know where it was going to go. Maybe this Thomas Anderson is different? Maybe he’s been insane this whole time? Thanks to his therapist, played with profound empathy and support by Neil Patrick Harris, Neo isn't sure. After Neo takes the red pill, a mirror begins to distort. But on the other side of that mirror is his therapist, who speaks to Thomas Anderson as if he’s had a mental break. The illusion that the therapist is trying to talk him back into reality is so convincing, that for a moment I wondered if they were doing something totally unexpected and take the story into a more grounded mental health direction, franchise be damned.

For this installment of the franchise, the face of the human resistance is a Fleet Captain named Bugs from the human city IO. It's sixty years after Matrix: Revolutions and compared Zion’s constant state of near apocalyptic destruction, there is a functional piece in place with the machines. In IO, they have enough resources to grow strawberries, an upgrade from the protein goop wartime rations. The machines controlling the Matrix aren't looking for them. General Niobe, from the first trilogy, is running IO. She fought at the siege of Zion and had nightmares for years after the war was over. Bugs only knows peace and romanticizes the Neo and his love Trinity, who is also being held captive by the machines. Those two together form a perfect conduit to power the Matrix. Niobe knows that to deprive the Matrix of this conduit is to deprive them of food. If Bugs takes away the machines' food source, that will provoke another war.

Niobe has a responsibility to the city of IO, and the surviving human population. But Neo does not. Because at this point, the cycle of the machines' destroying Zion is over. The prophecy of 'The One' is complete. Everyone that Neo knew is long gone. The world is completely changed, and he doesn't have the responsibility as the savior of mankind to keep him invested in the needs of the many. Now he’s just a guy, looking for his girlfriend. It is at this point where Neo becomes the antagonist.

With nothing to keep him performing the greatest good for the greatest number, Neo does what is best for himself, with no regard for how it’ll affect IO or humanity writ large. He is on a quest to destabilize the food source for the dominate species on the planet, which will in turn lead to the deaths of countless humans, all for his own selfish gains. If you take away the stability that the Matrix brings, the war begins again. Neo, freeing Trinity and running amok in the Matrix, has destabilized the entire planet. Because this is an origin story for a villain. A powerful man that used others to get what he wanted, no matter how many people died. Thomas Anderson was a hero by circumstance. In the Matrix: Resurrections, Neo is a villain by choice.

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