Neo is working on his—no!
Thomas Anderson is working on his life. He’s a pretty famous gamemaker—the guy who created the Matrix trilogy of video games way back when. And that fame gets him some public attention and the perks that go with it. But a balding, middle-aged guy who must continually work on his mental health and take all sorts of drugs to keep from seeing things is not living life large.
He’s just coping. And coping ain’t great.
Problem is, Neo—stop! Thomas, his name is Thomas. And Thomas has been asked by his corporate CEO partner, Smith, to start working with a young gun team of gamemakers to create a new Matrix title. And the very idea of it has him struggling with memories (that aren’t memories!) once again.
Thomas’ psychiatrist says they’ve been making progress. But things still feel loose and slippery sometimes. So, Thomas doubles up on his meds. The little blue pills make him loopy and numb. But they keep unpleasant thoughts at bay.
Speaking of thoughts, there’s also a woman that he’s spotted over at the coffee shop. She triggers thoughts for him, too. Nothing nasty. It’s just that he feels like he knows her, though they’ve never met. And when he does finally meet this woman, named Tiffany, just shaking her hand sends a spark through his whole system.
But she’s married. With a husband and kids. Thomas has got to stop with all of these foolish thoughts. That, however, is easier said than done.
The thoughts, the numbing pills, the memories that aren’t memories: They all keep pressing in on him. Then Thomas meets a strange girl with a white rabbit on her shoulder and a guy named Morpheus who shoves a choice of pills in his face. This is … this is stuff right out of his games.
N-Ne-Neo, yes, Neo can feel himself slipping. He’s tumbling down a rabbit hole. If he can’t get a grip, he’ll soon think he can leap off building tops again.
And what will that gain him?
As with past films in the series, the central characters—including Neo, Trinity, Morpheus and a ship captain named Bugs—have all escaped imprisonment in a virtual, computer-generated Matrix. And they fight to free as much of humanity from this trap as possible. They also risk their own lives to save one another.
One thing that’s changed now, however, is that Neo’s past efforts have created a slightly improved existence for the struggling human race. And in this real and non-Matrix world, some machines, and even programs, have developed free will and left the machine hive mind in an effort to aid the humans and their efforts.
Neo fears that all of his past efforts were for nothing, but someone points out that all good efforts—even small ones—can work toward positive change.
Though not specially faith-focused, many of the freed humans look to Neo as a heroic savior figure, similar to his role in previous Matrix entries. Someone talks of praying for a specific real-world goal to take place.
With the right tip of the head, you can draw somewhat spiritual parallels between our real world and the deception of the Matrix machine world. There are forces at play in both that focus attention on foolish pursuits while attempting to make things of significance—such as spiritual growth and faith—seem trivial.
Both Neo and Trinity are being kept (in the real world) in special machine-built containers. They’re both naked, but key areas are kept hidden from the camera’s eye by strategically placed cables, as well as the containers’ murky fluids and bits of machinery. When Neo and Trinity touch, there’s a special energy created from their past connection and love for each other. They eventually embrace and kiss.
Someone crudely calls Tiffany a “MILF.”
[Spoiler Warning] Though you could suggest that Neo breaks up Trinity’s (or Tiffany’s) marriage, the truth is, it’s all a fabricated monitoring program designed to keep Trinity focused on a false reality.
As would be expected, this film is packed with tons of thumping violence. We witness a number of percussive fights involving twirling and somersaulting moves that smash fists, feet and people through stone pillars, walls, floors and windows. Automatic gunfire also riddles crowds on a regular basis, and explosions rip up the surrounding environs. We see slashed and bleeding people who spit up blood. Others are lit up with missile blasts, bashed physically or thrown out of high-speed vehicles.
As the conflicts expand throughout the movie, however, the crowds grow larger, the explosions and high-caliber gunfire becomes more destructive. Helicopters get hit with missiles and erupt into flames as they crash into buildings. Vehicles on the streets flip and explode. And scores of people are crushed and set on fire.
Some visuals are only lightly bloody, while others push closer to being truly gruesome.
We see that the Machines have also adapted to the new Matrix world, for instance. Rather than always calling in agents to deal with human problems, they employ handler programs within the populace. In one sequence, those programs take over scores of people and have them jump out of high-rise building windows to become splatting flesh bombs in the street below. The new version of a program called The Architect also uses some of Neo’s former skills against him—creating slow motion execution-style situations.
And later in the film, a powered-up individual viciously attacks someone in the Matrix with horrific moves—including a kick that rips off someone’s jaw and a slashing attack that slices open that person’s neck—before making the victim whole again to be attacked and brutalized once more.
We hear five f-words and some ten s-words in the foul language mix. We also hear a handful of uses each of “h—,” “a–” and “b–ch.” God’s name is misused 10 times (four of those in combination with the word “d–n”). We hear “p-ssed” and “d—k” once each.
Someone uses an offensive hand gesture. Another individual talks of flipping people’s “synaptic WTF lights on.”
Morpheus drinks a martini before a fight sequence. And a depressed Thomas Anderson sits on a rooftop swigging from a bottle of liquor.
Thomas also downs repeated prescription drugs in an effort to quell his mind. Characters who knock down a red pill go through a short, staggering phase of what appears to be drunkenness. Smith smokes cigarettes. He notes, “I quit calling it a bad habit, now it’s just a guilty pleasure.”
We see Thomas sitting on a toilet with his pants around his ankles. Someone makes a life-or-death deal that he later reneges on.
Let me put it this way: Rather than being the creative rebirth this film’s title might suggest, The Matrix Resurrections is more like a greatest hits reprise. It compiles many of the same things you’ve seen and heard before: the battering kung fu fights; the slow-mo bullet time; the nasty language; the layers of real and simulated reality; the scenery-vaporizing explosions and the manipulated massacre of hundreds.
Jumping back into this ones-and-zeros, binary world will likely appeal to avid Matrix fans, especially since they can see it and its iconic accoutrements up on the big screen once more. But there’s nothing really new or groundbreaking to be found in this story’s continuation, other than perhaps a bit more female- empowerment chutzpah.
Like many a best-of collection, fans of the original know all the tunes. It’s just that the band is 20 years older, while still singing the same old stylishly violent song.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.