It is a very matrix-like feeling that I cannot quite remember when I saw the original “Matrix” movie – I do recall that I was living in New Zealand at the time which makes it definitely a thing of the last millennium, that I did it with a friend who said that she KNEW I would be intrigued by it… and she was right, I was so. I was less so when Matrix II came out. I don’t think I ever saw number 3. It all started to strike me as vaguely cartoonish I suppose. There was no real reason to think that the fourth incarnation would be something that would interest me, then. And yet… I watched the trailer. And there was something… SOMETHING.
It wasn’t going to tempt me into a cinema, not in these pandemic times, but then I discovered that as a subscriber to HBO I also had access to HBOMax, the streaming branch of the service, and so I watched “Matrix: Resurrections” on Christmas Day. And it was an experience that I may not have been fully expecting, even given that sense of “something” that was lurking in the background. What presented itself in “resurrections” had the name of the franchise… but in a way it was using it metaphorically. THIS Matrix is turned back on itself. The Matrix within the Matrix within the Matrix. Forget the red and blue pills, there aren’t enough colours in the rainbow to colour the pharmaceuticals that would unravel truth from illusion here. The question kind of becomes the old one about God – in whether Neo created the Matrix or whether the Matrix created Neo. It is an Alice-through-the-looking-glass kind of feeling and gives you a faint sense of vertigo. Add to this the presence of the Analyst played as a horrible Doctor Horrible by Neil Patrick Harris and acting as an unexpectedly milquetoast villain of the piece and a surreal sense of place that permeates the thing – the net effect is dreamlike, and even the characters understand this – Trinity wakes from her “engineered” reality (and oh MAN, that awakening is a scene I am willing to watch this entire movie again for the sake of!) and then tells Neo that she feels like she has dreamed it all – and then, on the roof, that heartbreaking, “My dream ended here”. Dreams end. That is a truth. And the more beautiful a dream is the more dangerous it is, the more able to break your heart.
The other Matrix movies really were a little bit of a fightfest – slowmo bullets, arsenals of guns and gunlike objects, uncanny kung fu – and yes, there is a lot of that in this movie also… but this movie’s heart is the love story at the center of it. The story which is transcendent, the story which has absolute faith and absolute willingness to sacrifice self for the sake of the beloved other that lies at the core of it all. And there is a tangible connection here that pulses off the screen. There is something… something REAL, Matrix be damned, between these two characters. Something real that can change a world, that a new world can be built on. I might have ended the movie without its somewhat schmaltzy ending because that connection was obvious without the viewer being thumped upside thehead with it with a metaphorical clue by four. We should have been left not quite knowing, perhaps, rather than having Neo and Trinity flying in like a pair of superman clones in order to “explain” things and exact their petty little revenge on the Analyist who then wrecks everything by basically telling them that they lost by winning anyway… we didn’t need that. But for a lapsed Matrix-initiate who lost interest when it became, well, a video game… the movie that was about its having become the video game, and the realities beyond that, was irresistible.
I suspect that some aspects of the Matrix – in a somewhat metaphysical sense – is no less than the truth, painted in often garish comic-book Whap-Blam-Shazam terms – but there is a part of me that viscerally understands this, and believes it. That someone somewhere is pulling strings that I cannot see. That there is a script. And that I don’t know my lines. The mere fact that someone like Neo and Trinity could exist – could rise above this – could fight it – could WIN – gives me a weird feeling that is almost, ALMOST, hope. And Matrix Resurrections – and the love story at the heart of it all – quantifies that hope. Maybe it is possible to make the right choices. Maybe, in the moment of crisis, it will be possible for ALL of us to remember who we truly are, whom we truly love, and make our decisions accordignly. It would, to quote a famous line, be pretty to think so, anyway.
I think I may need to watch this movie at least once more, to get some of the nuances. But the gist of my reaction is an absolute awe of what the director has done here – taken their own creation and aimed it at itself, blew it apart, watched it reconstitute, watched it take a breath as a new creature which was luminously self aware. I’m not saying I loved it. I am not even saying I completely understood it. What I am saying is that all of us are cosmic strings, in a sense, and this movie plucked mine, and I am still vibrating with it. Remains to be seen what I will do with that feeling, other than feeling this childish urge to carve “Neo loves Trinity” in a heart on the bark of some hapless birch in a random park somewhere and believe those people really exist and that a love that spans EVERYTHING can really endure, that choices can be made in the name of it even when the people involved have fairy dust in their eyes that is making them forget their own truth.
Matrix Resurrections is summed up in a word: “BELIEVE”. Believe, and live. Stop believing, and accept the truth that you are fed by others, and die.
I am not sure I know how, yet. But I reject all the pills. Truth lies in neither binary option. Truth is all around us. WE are our truth.