There is no doubt that the problems with The Matrix Resurrections are numerous. However, the main off-putting is its repeated flashbacks to The Matrix trilogy. The background context is set 60 years after the events of the original 1999 movie, The Matrix Resurrections portrays our protagonist, Neo, plugged back into the Matrix, with the machines persuading him that the stories we’ve known so far in The Matrix trilogy are mere video games that he designed himself. In the meantime, Trinity is trapped in a fake reality and a new band of rebels attempts to rescue both of them. The innovative decision to include scenes from the originals: The Matrix (1999), The Matrix Reloaded (2003), and The Matrix Revolutions (2003), within the new movie, is made by the newly back on duties director, Lana Wachowski. These references are used as means of flashing back for Neo and for other characters to comment on.
The first movie in 1999 was considered the magnum opus of motion pictures’ history. Following its success, The Matrix Resurrections has made its landfall at the box office and formed divided opinions between critics and audiences. Together with the positive reception on the return of Neo and Trinity and their stories, comes the harsh criticism on the attempt to commercialize the franchise with unnecessary subplots. On the latter critique, the supporting evidence pointed out is the ubiquitous use of flashbacks to the originals.
It needs to be addressed that the flashbacks did appear in previous films before and were proven to be useful since they helped as being tools and reminders to the occurred events. The problem arises as the overwhelming use of this technique causes distractions from the story itself. However, The new Matrix movie is both knowledgeable of and indifferent to this situation, as the unconcerned comments and satirizes the phenomenon of unneeded continuation to a completed work are made throughout the film. Take a look at the scene where Yahya Abdul-Mateen II quotes Laurence Fishburne‘s Morpheus as a reference of Morpheus meeting Neo in the bathroom, showing the self-awareness of the movie itself on the inferiority of the new setting compared to the atmospheric setting in the original. Another scene after that carefreely repeats that first meeting scene as Neo walks through, in an attempt to evoke his recollections via nostalgia. This, without doubt, brings about the sense of unfavorable and ubiquitous.
Comparing the originals with The Matrix Resurrections is both bold and blatant as the quality and storyline both can’t pay off. The absence of Fishbourne and Agent Smith’s Hugo Weaving was unintentionally exaggerated and become a torment thanks to the repeated archive footage of them. This also undoubtedly diminishes the courageous efforts of their replacements. On the other hand, the “newly adapted” opening of The Matrix, where Trinity escapes from cops and agents, is forced and awkward. Although this is a planned intention by the director Wachowski to emphasize Bugs’ fakeness (Jessica Henwick), its backlashing effect occurs as a form of the desperation for the near-perfect version filmed over 20 years earlier over the re-imagined scene.
While the materials for creativity are apparently not extremely rare, the majority of them are often left unbothered for the film’s focus on the old ground and retelling the first half of the original once again. The Matrix Resurrections has too much ambition to itself at the same time, longing to be both something different and more of the same all at once. The new story could have been left with more space to develop and to escape the shadow of the iconic franchise provided that it can give up the need to mimic and just directly show the original scenes.