The Matrix 4: Reviews
There will be spoilers for The Matrix: Resurrections in this post! Turn away now if you haven't seen the movie yet!
Second warning: Spoilers Ahead
I just finished watching The Matrix: Resurrections. I previously wrote about my predictions for the movie. While parts of my predictions were definitely in the movie, I never made a larger prediction about what the plot would specifically involve. However, after seeing the movie, none of those predictions even mattered.
What follows will be a SPOILER-FILLED review of Matrix 4, so stop reading if you haven't seen the movie.
On the Surface Rating: 6 out of 10
I have to give 2 different ratings for this movie because there are 2 different movies inside this movie. My "on the surface" rating is a 6 out of 10. This rating applies to the movie if you take it at face value as a sequel to the original Matrix Trilogy. If you are a Matrix fan and wanted more Matrix, what you got was something like Animatrix and Matrix Reloaded. It had good action scenes, but since you are already familiar with the idea of the world within a world and the what-if-this-is-not-the-real-world questions presented mostly as novel ideas in the original, it was just an action movie set in the Matrix Cinematic Universe.
FINAL WARNING: SPOILERS
Spoilers for real ahead.
My Real Rating: 8 out of 10
My real rating is an 8 out of 10, and that's because of the movie within the movie. Ironically, some people may not notice the movie's true purpose because of how obvious it is. The movie literally spells it out for you, yet it's so on-the-nose that you might be tempted to think it was just a moment of humorous fourth wall breaking. While breaking the fourth wall truly is what the Matrix has left to do (to break into the real real world), that's actually what the movie did, in a way.
The Matrix 4's True Purpose was to be a Satire of the Current Film Industry
The Matrix 4 opens up with a recreation of the opening scene of the original Matrix movie. There are some obvious references to the Mirror concept, taken from the sequel to Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass. For one, the initial green code crawl of the Matrix is moving upward instead of downward. The camera pan downward showing the "Hearts" sign on a building is reversed; the sign is on the right in the new movie, and on the left in the original. Also, the initial shot of the police moving through the building shows them upside at first, being a reflection in a puddle of water.
This time around, 2 characters are watching a fake Trinity reenact her opening scene from the first movie. Also, this scene is our first clue as to what is really going on in the movie. The scene proceeds as usual, with the "Trinity" character being surrounded by policemen. In the original, Trinity does a stylish kick and proceeds to run around the wall and take care of the pistol-firing policemen with ease. In the new movie, however, the policemen are SWAT firing fully automatic rifles at "Trinity". This is a clue to the purpose of the film -- in today's movies, the colors are brighter, the gun fights are crazier, and there isn't much time spent on building tension and ambience.
The Matrix 4 is a Critique of the Modern Marvel Film Formula
We are told what the movie is about when we are introduced to Neo, who goes by Thomas Anderson and works as a Game Designer famous for his game "The Matrix". He is called into the office of his business partner, who is actually Agent Smith from the first trilogy. In the meeting, Smith tells Neo that Warner Bros wants to make a sequel trilogy to The Matrix. Neo doesn't want to. Doesn't matter, says Smith, they'll do it with or without you.
Then proceeds the classically corporate "our focus groups show that the Matrix brand is associated with..." meeting. Neo is forced to sit through corporate brainstorming meetings where the suits are discussing what makes the Matrix the Matrix and what audiences will want from the sequel. "More guns". "It's a mind-trip, it messed with your mind." "We need a new bullet time."
And that's what this film is. The studio wanted it. The Wachowskis probably didn't, I don't know. But it was going to be made with or without them. Everything about the film is a satire of the Marvel Movie.
It's a sequel. It's a reboot. The Matrix in this movie is a Reboot of the original Matrix, made to be brighter than the original in order to match current movies' neon color saturation and brightness levels. Characters in this movie literally say that they "hate this sequel reboot Matrix".
And the movie hits all of the typical Sequel/Reboot/Remake tropes, as well. There is the recasting of Morpheus, confusing the fans. There's the character that looks like Trinity, but isn't, much like how Star Wars: The Force Awakens had the "Han Solo" character that was supposed to be like Han Solo, but wasn't. There's the fan service recreation of exact fight scenes, just to get the audience to go "he did the thing!" There's the escalation of memorable elements. (Remember the helicopter fight on the rooftop? Well, now there's TWO helicopters!)
This is all done on purpose. The movie exists as a satire of the reboot culture in Hollywood. If you aren't convinced -- then here's the final two pieces of evidence.
1. The Circumstances of Neo's Resurrection
Neo and Trinity were dead by the end of the original trilogy. So, how did they come back for this one? Well, easy. Some greedy robot saw Neo's dead body at the end of the last movie and thought he could make money off of it. That's actually the real reason given in the movie. So he took Neo's body and literally stitched it back together and brought him back to life like Frankenstein's monster. That's an easy metaphor for some greedy corporate producer stitching back together the corpse of a dead character in order to make more movies.
2. The Circumstances of Trinity's Resurrection
But why did the robot resurrect Trinity? Well, see, that's the magic. Again, literally the magic. See, a Matrix movie can't exist without Neo and Trinity, right? The magic happens when they're together. You need them both for the love story and for the magic to happen. So that's reason the robot resurrected her, too. The evil robot realized that Neo didn't produce enough power on his own unless Trinity's body was close by. Somehow, Neo's powers were enhanced when Trinity was around. And when the two physically touched each other, literal sparks would fly. Again, a brilliant critique of modern movies and their reboot logic.
The Matrix 4's Final Stab at the Star Wars Reboot Trilogy
Just to rub it into Disney's Star Wars reboot trilogy, the Matrix 4 gave Trinity a familiar new power -- healing. She uses this newfound power at the end of the film to heal The Analyst so she can beat him up all over again. There might be other reasons in the film for how this technically happens, but it's clear that it's Trinity who is snapping her fingers and healing the bad guy.
This movie is an awesome satire and critique of the Modern Marvel Movie and Hollywood's Reboot Culture. I would give it a 10 out of 10 for that reason alone, but it's still held back by the formula itself. The ending sequence felt like it abandoned the satire and went full Marvel film. Even though this was part of the act, it still felt too Marvel-ish and uninspired. So, all in all, it was a brilliant commentary on modern movies' lack of originality and their predictable, cookie-cutter formula. It explicitly tells the audience that this is what is going on.
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