I decided to read several user reviews before heading into watching this movie, to see what the general public had to say. Either they simply didn’t understand the movie, refused to, or were just plain old too stupid to get it. It happens. It’s why the original movie infamously changed the point of humans being used by machines because the writers thought the audience would be too dumb to get it. They were right.
My expectations going into this, based upon the knowledge of the previous movies, is that Neo and Trinity never got to have their own story. They never got to have the epic love they were promised, they were sacrificed for the greater good, they got to save humanity. So, I expected this movie to give them that catharsis, that emotional release that fans wanted, to see Neo and Trinity together, alive, happy. And guess what? I was right, the movie is a love story and a fan send off to everything The Matrix.
The story is once again filled with philosophical topics, and observations on current society. It begins with an in-depth and meta look at the Matrix movies themselves, and as them being existing pieces of artwork within the Matrix itself. This smart self-awareness allows them to simultaneously reference themselves as being a sequel while also riffing on topics of originality, and reboots – and how they sell. It gives the viewer a starting point that this is something new while also something old. By starting with the old, you can take the viewer on a journey to showcase the new and then bring in even newer ideas.
“Quietly yearning for what you don’t have, while dreading losing what you do. For 99.9% of your race, that is the definition of reality. Desire and fear, baby.”
Spoilers From Here On
So the point of the starting opener is that Neo is so ingrained into the Matrix, that the creator of it all, the analyst, even has Neo believing he’s a game designer for the video games based on the movies. However, deep down, some part of Neo knows this to not be true, and subconsciously or maybe consciously, he creates a modal window into the matrix reliving the opening sequences of Trinity’s escape at the start of the first movie. This is explained as a way to force the evolution or enhancement of a program, which turns out to be Morpheus. This aspect is taken from the games as Morpheus is dead. To get Neo out, the resistance, or the real world, tried to replicate his past in an attempt to spark his memories. Yet, the Matrix is tricky and resilient, and he is not willing to let go just yet. His therapy sessions basically convince him that everything is in his mind, and it plays on that trope of ‘how do you know you’re really insane or just being gaslit?’
Now they have to move past being meta, they have to directly reference it by playing the movie physically as a medium within the Matrix itself, to force Neo to realize what’s happening. He does, and his journey into the real world is again similar to the first time around. Even Neo himself has lines mentioning that. Then his acclimatization to the real world involves fighting Morpheus similarly to his initial fight against him, except this time, he does awaken his latent powers. His mojo slowly comes back to him. We get introduced to Ion, and how the definition of us vs them changed. And all the while, we are introduced to the new crew, led by Bugs, played by Jessica Henwick who does a phenomenal job.
“The sheeple aren’t going anywhere. They like my world. They don’t want this sentimentality. They don’t want freedom or empowerment. They want to be controlled. They crave the comfort of certainty.”
Now the story starts to get into new territory, once the connection between the past and present is now set up. Neo won’t do anything without Trinity and so he plots to get back inside, and free her if, and this is the most important part of it all. Having agency and choice. If she so chooses.
Then we add a bit of Mr Smith, back in a new body, played by Jonathan Groff, to add chaos to it all, and to let him get his own ending too. We bring back an older character, aged up, from the original series. Niobe. As well as other favorites, and tie up their plots and emotional arcs.
“For mom and dad, love is the genesis of everything.”
Lana Wachowski did a great job with the story. It was obvious she cared about these characters, and that she wanted them to have everything they deserved. I loved the ending because it ties into the idea of rebirth, of change. Of not doing things the same as before. In the previous movies, Neo held all the power, a male. At the end, it becomes subverted, a female has the power. This is even promoted further by using the song Wake Up, performed by a female artist.
Overall, I loved it. Keanu Reeves was a pleasure to see again in action as Neo, Carrie-Ann Moss was powerful, and delightful. The action sequences were fun, the plot never boring, and all the while I was glued to the screen wondering how it all fit together. It tells you, and you’re never quite confused as to what’s happening. I recommend it.