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Slate - December 21, 2021

Matrix Resurrections is a movie interested in collapsing binaries: between man and machine, between digital and “real” life, between past and present, and of course, between genders.

... At a hefty 148 minutes of running time, Matrix Resurrections (premiering simultaneously on Wednesday both in theaters and on HBO Max) may not be the most crowd-pleasing franchise sequel to be released this season. Wachowski, co-writing the script with novelists Aleksandar Hemon and David Mitchell, burrows into the lore of a highly specific sci-fi universe that many audiences may barely recall from nearly two decades ago. But one thing this fourth chapter can’t be accused of is failing to keep up with its times. As virtual online life has taken over day-to-day existence, the man-vs.-machine struggle that characterized so much science fiction up to the turn of the 21st century has mutated into something harder to schematize: We are our machines, or they are living extensions of us, in a way that requires rethinking what exiting “the Matrix” might mean.

Matrix Resurrections is a movie interested in collapsing binaries: the ones between man and machine, between digital and “real” life, between past and present, and of course, between genders. Of the rebel leaders running the show in Zion and its new sister city, Io, all are people of color, all but one are women, and one appealing new character, Bugs (Jessica Henwick) is the most explicitly queer character in the franchise to date. One line the script does go out of its way to hold, however, is the distinction between what “taking the red pill” means within the Matrix universe (liberation, full engagement in the social and political world, “waking up”) and what the phrase has come to mean after its co-optation by rightwing trolls (handing over one’s critical-thinking skills to social-media-borne lies, fulminating against “wokeness”). Matrix Resurrections’ pointed barbs about the way the series’ mythology has been appropriated by some of the most dangerous actors in contemporary political culture demonstrate that, however familiar some of its visual iconography may have become, this is a franchise that has always kept its eyes wide awake and trained on the present day. ...
Read full review at Slate