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Matrix Resurrections: An io9 Roundtable Discussion

The io9 staff breaks down our thoughts on the fourth Matrix film starring Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss.

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Matrix Resurrections' Morpheus and Neo fighting in the dojo.
Neo and Morpheus, back in the dojo.
Image: Warner Bros.

That there’s actually a new Matrix movie out feels almost as unreal as The Matrix itself. It’s been almost 20 years since the last film and in that time, the Wachowskis have said again and again they’d never do it. But Lana Wachowski now has, and we’re still kind of shocked it’s real.

If you’re a fan like us, chances are you’ve already headed to the theater to see The Matrix Resurrections or have watched it on HBO Max. And if that’s the case, you probably want to talk about it. All of it. Which is why we’re here. Below is a spoiler-filled conversation between Germain Lussier, Cheryl Eddy, and Rob Bricken of io9 discussing what we liked, what we didn’t like, what was confusing, what was surprising, and what it all means in terms of The Matrix Resurrections.

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Bugs, Neo and Morpheus in Matrix Resurrections.
Three friends log onto the internet to talk about the Matrix.
Image: Warner Bros.

Germain Lussier: Welcome to the io9 roundtable discussion of The Matrix Resurrections. We all watched the new movie last night, so to start I’m curious to know—are you both fans of the original films and had you rewatched them before this one?

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Rob Bricken: I watched the original films in theaters. Liked the action of the first one, intensely disliked the sequels, then got kind of squicked out by the fetishization of gun violence in the franchise over the decades. So I basically came into this as an apprehensive newcomer with vague memories of the original. Much like Neo!

Cheryl Eddy: I saw them all in the theaters and have rewatched them several times over the years… the sequels not as much as the original. (I am definitely one of those nostalgic people this new movie was presumably made for.)

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Germain Lussier: I’m glad you said that, Cheryl. I asked this because I have a feeling a recent, clear, direct memory of the original Matrix films plays a huge role in someone’s like or dislike of this one. So, am I right? How did you each feel about this one in general before we dig into it?

Rob Bricken: I think you’re right, in that it’s so dependent on the original films to mean anything or say anything that I got almost nothing out of it. I was mostly baffled and put off by it. I can’t imagine some teen going in to see this as their first Matrix film and enjoying it.

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Cheryl Eddy: I was definitely excited when it was announced, but I am also getting a bit weary of all the reboots/revisitations of movies from the 1990s. However, I also see why The Matrix is still relevant after all this time, even if I was worried it might have to try extra hard to feel as fresh and exciting as it did in 1999 (which: it did, in my opinion)

Rob Bricken: I strongly disagree.

Germain Lussier: With which part?

Rob Bricken: The “fresh and exciting” part.

Neo walking around with matrix code
We’re walking into The Matrix
Image: Warner Bros.
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Germain Lussier: I think that’s what I liked about it the most. That I felt it was “fresh and exciting,” but in a new way.

Cheryl Eddy: Oh I meant, it felt like it TRIED TOO HARD. Haha.

Rob Bricken: It is 80 percent the same movie as The Matrix, which we know because the characters basically mention it all the time.

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Germain Lussier: Well that’s kind of what I mean. It might be a bit of a cheat but I love that we walk into this movie not knowing if it’s a sequel or a reboot. And not only is it a sequel, it’s a sequel set so far ahead in the future, it feels almost impossible for the characters. So the joy of the first half is figuring out why this movie even exists, and at the same time, you have a filmmaker who takes that story and twists it with her own insecurities of this movie existing. And it gets really dense and maybe a little too meta but by the time we realize “It’s 60 years in the future, the machines kept Neo and Trinity alive, and they just want to be together” I was so all in.

Rob Bricken: I get that, but that doesn’t really answer the question of why this movie even exists.

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Germain Lussier: Well I think that question has two answers and Cheryl I’d love to hear your thoughts here too. But in the movie, it exists to be like “Love triumphs.” Neo and Trinity loved each other, sacrificed their lives to save humanity, and never got to be together. Now, through the machines’ hubris, they do. Outside of the movie, it exists because a) Warner Bros. likes money, and b) Lana Wachowski lost her parents and couldn’t bring them back from the dead, so she brought back another couple that meant a lot to her: Neo and Trinity.

Cheryl Eddy: I didn’t expect the movie to be so… meta. And I agree with Rob, I think the script leaned into that pretty heavily.

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Rob Bricken: If you’re just watching the movie, though, and don’t have that context—which surely most of the audience doesn’t—it doesn’t matter.

Neo and Trinity standing outside a coffee shop.
Neo and Trinity battling for their lives.
Image: Warner Bros.
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Germain Lussier: A movie about love triumphing over actual life doesn’t matter? Also, by going into the machine city and attempting to rescue Trinity, they are risking all the lives of this new city, iO. Which, I will admit, could have been seeded and explained better.

Rob Bricken: Yeah, and that’s kind of shitty! Like, I have zero recollection of what happened at the end of Revolutions, but Neo sacrificed everything so the human race could be better off, and then he’s brought back and wants a redo at the cost of humanity.

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Germain Lussier: I do agree the story maybe feels a little bigger than its point but that also brings up another thing I really, really liked, which is that Neo’s “victory” in Revolutions brought about choice in the machine race and now machines side with human. And thanks to humanity now having this advanced technology at their side, they’ve begun to thrive in ways they never imagined.

Rob Bricken: And Neo’s ready to toss it all in the trash.

Germain Lussier: Kind of, sure. But it works out and then they become Gods of the Matrix.

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Cheryl Eddy: I was also surprised it took so long to get Carrie-Anne Moss into the movie. It’s like two hours in before she’s not just the confused woman in the coffee shop. (Good old “Tiff the MILF.”) But I do appreciate the love story and Keanu Reeves and Moss are so great together, I wish there had been more scenes with them together. And I wish her character had been better developed in this movie.

Rob Bricken: I definitely agree that Reeves and Moss were excellent together. Reeves isn’t particularly good at romance, but they work, even when—maybe especially—when they think they don’t know each other.

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Bugs looking in on the old matrix.
Bugs and her crew raise some fascinating questions.
Image: Warner Bros.

Germain Lussier: Yeah, Keanu and Carrie-Anne are super in this. But of course, they’re basically the only returning actors. What did we think about some of the new characters like Jessica Henwick’s Bugs?

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Rob Bricken: Jessica Henwick rules in this movie, but I have no idea what she was trying to accomplish by finding Neo.

Germain Lussier: Yeah, Rob, the whole start of the movie is definitely a little confusing. But from what I can tell Bugs and her crew are Neo superfans and they spend their time believing that he exists and searching for him. So they find this weird, old program someone wrote which is where Neo hid his version of Morpheus and that was the only way he knew he could get out. I think. I will admit it’s confusing but I saw it as a woman who isn’t happy with the iO status quo and still believes that “The One” will save EVERYONE who is in the Matrix and so she keeps searching. She’s basically a fangirl of the original Matrix films trying to keep them alive.

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Rob Bricken: Those aren’t really stakes. And then these people are also down with the potential extinction of the human race so Neo can get his girlfriend back.

Germain Lussier: Well and then, maybe, save the world too. But we’ll get to the ending in a second. What about the architect of this new and improved Matrix, the Analyst?

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Cheryl Eddy: I love me some Neil Patrick Harris, but the cat had more personality than his character did in this. The Analyst was so one-dimensional and obvious and predictable, considering he was supposed to be a supersmart evil computer.

Germain Lussier: Ouch.

The analyst in Matrix resurrections.
Cheryl just bodied this dude.
Image: Warner Bros.
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Rob Bricken: I know Agent Smith was a ham, but was the personification of The Matrix always so… smarmy? It cut whatever tension the movie was trying to build because the Big Bad was an asshole instead of being scary or intimidating.

Germain Lussier: Jonathan Groff’s performance as the “new and improved” Agent Smith is actually, if you can believe it, less smarmy than Hugo Weaving was. But I do think his role as well in this is a little muddled. He’s an enemy, he’s a friend, he saves them, they fight, it’s not always 100% clear.

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Rob Bricken: I agree, although Weaving had three movies to stockpile that ham. I don’t really know why Smith 2.0 is in this movie.

Cheryl Eddy: Speaking of Agent Smith, what did you guys think of the fight scenes? I knew it was going to be hard for this movie to top anything in the originals… how do you make “bullet time” even cooler?... and I fear I was right. Plus every movie since The Matrix has ripped The Matrix off with such enthusiasm, it’s hard for anything to feel like we haven’t seen it before.

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Rob Bricken: I am actually feeling bad about being so negative on the film, which I didn’t hate, exactly, but I watched this yesterday and cannot for the life of me remember anything that happened in any of the fight scenes. Oh, wait—the Analyst’s introduction of “Bullet Time,” which I thought was supremely clever, but I don’t know if Neo is paralyzed while a smarmy computer walks around and gloats counts as a fight scene.

Cheryl Eddy: Jonathan Groff ripped a sink out of a wall, which felt very Fight Club, haha.

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Agent Smith looking out a window.
Jonathan Groff as the new Agent Smith.
Image: Warner Bros.

Germain Lussier: Yes. Yes, he did. But here’s where I think we are all on the same page. The narrative twists and turns here are infinitely more interesting than the action, which really amounts to “Doogie Howser does slow motion” and “Neo has the Force.” Those are the two new big additions and they don’t really add much. The biggest failing here is that the action is so sporadic and mostly unmemorable, which is so not what The Matrix was built on.

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Cheryl Eddy: “You’ll believe a Neo can fly!” (Or a Trinity. That was her flying at the end, right?)

Rob Bricken: This movie would be better with fewer action scenes. I would have been fine with just the romance angle.

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Cheryl Eddy: I agree with Rob. But I think Warner Bros. would’ve been furious at a Matrix movie with fewer fight scenes.

Rob Bricken: They very much felt like Lana Wachowski put them in out of obligation.

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Germain Lussier: Yes, they don’t add a ton to the story and yes Trinity flies at the end. I think on a second watch I understand why and how but curious what you both think of that and the ending in general? They say they have another chance. Are they referring to their love or to save the world?

Rob Bricken: I have to assume they mean their relationship, because what does their ability to rewrite the Matrix accomplish? Are they going to wake everybody up? Didn’t that happen in the original trilogy? Are they shutting down the machines?

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Neo and Trinity looking to the sunset.
Neo and Trinity are ready to embrace their futures.
Image: Warner Bros.

Germain Lussier: All very valid questions. But no, the original movies did not wake everyone up.

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Cheryl Eddy: I’m sure we’ll find out in the next movie, Matrix Reborn. Matrix Reanimated? Bride of Matrix Reanimated? Matrix Redundant?

Rob Bricken: /chef kiss

Germain Lussier: Oh man, this is getting out of hand but I’ll allow it. Yeah, I think their ability to rewrite the Matrix at the end of this suggests that unplugging everyone is impossible and the true way to save everyone is just to make the Matrix they’re plugged into more truthful. So the other chance is for their relationship as well as a new perspective on how to change everything. Oh, and I think Trinity can fly because she was resurrected by the machines so now she has machine code in her.

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Rob Bricken: Honestly, I didn’t have a question about Trinity getting Neo powers because I had questions about pretty much everything else. I just assumed it was love or some shit.

Germain Lussier: Rob, you remember how the first movie ended, right? Neo just is like “I’m coming for you” and leaves. It has a million questions at the end of it too.

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Rob Bricken: Resurrections has a million questions in the beginning and middle, too.

Germain Lussier: /chef kiss. Touché.

Cheryl Eddy: Germain in all seriousness, do you think there will be another Matrix movie coming or is this it?

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Germain Lussier: I think this is it. I think Lana Wachowski said what she has to say, and from this conversation it’s obvious the movie is very polarizing so who knows how much money it’ll make. And, if it is it, Neo and Trinity living happily ever after in a world where technology is becoming better for the humans in the real world, and them doing their best for people in the virtual world, seems fitting. Any last thoughts here gang?

Morphues and Bugs filming.
The set of Matrix Resurrections.
Image: Warner Bros.
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Cheryl Eddy: Just wanted to add that I missed Laurence Fishburne for sure. But Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s wardrobe was the best wardrobe The Matrix has ever produced… apologies to all that iconic latex and those chunky knits, of course.

Rob Bricken: I am very tired of movies that are so dependent on ‘80s/’90s nostalgia to understand or enjoy.

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Germain Lussier: Yeah, thanks Cheryl for bringing up Morpheus. I think the fact he wasn’t brought up before is also kind of a fault of the movie. The character isn’t quite as memorable and strong as he was in the original, but at least the story gives us a good reason why Fishburne didn’t come back. And Abdul-Mateen II is GREAT in the film but Morpheus kind of isn’t.

Cheryl Eddy: 100% agree.

Rob Bricken: Also, wait a second. That reminds me—how does Jessica Henwick hack into Neo’s video game? It’s a program in a program.

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Germain Lussier: It’s not the new video game, it’s a modal for programs that he built independently.

Rob Bricken: Follow-up question: How does Jessica Henwick hack into Neo’s modal?

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Germain Lussier: Ummmm…Good night everyone!!


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