In a surprising revival, Lana Wachowski renews the reality and identity debates of her science fiction classic: “Matrix Resurrections”.
Among the metaphysical science fiction hits of the postmodern era, “Blade Runner” was the heavy symphony and “Matrix” was the catchy pop album. At the end of the millennium, the Wachowski siblings quickly broke down into simple formulas, which as a post-structuralist reality debate was already part of high school knowledge: When it was announced on the screen that reality did not exist at all, it was fun to imagine yourself like a Jean Baudrillard nudged his neighbor in the audience and whispered: “You see – that’s what I always said!”
And then at the same time there was this somewhat messianic message about the impossibility of a free will decision in a dehumanized world. Anyone who read The Neverending Story understood her dire warning. That was it with Michael Ende’s “Do what you want.”
Matrix Resurrections in the cinema: more than just a déjà vu
Of course, the Wachowskis packaged their Weltschmerz in coolly composed images like from an anime. Today the first two parts in particular seem downright visionary: online gaming was in its infancy at the end of the 90s and was far from creating virtual realities. And with their criticism of capitalism, the two carefully observed their time.
They were also among the first to open up western blockbuster cinema to Chinese-inspired martial arts choreography. An ethnically diverse cast underscored the globalized scope of action – today a standard in US genre films. Of course, a pop phenomenon also includes the somewhat disappointing relegation (Part 3, “Matrix Reloaded”) and finally the revival and reunion phase after an appropriate break. “Matrix Resurrections” is the perfect reunion, and we can only congratulate those involved that they didn’t wait as long as Abba and don’t have to hide behind digital skins. Even if it had fit the topic. But Lana Wachowski, who wrote and staged this part without her sister, is not satisfied with a mere déjà vu.
Kino: Matrix Resurrections mit Keanu Reeves als Thomas Anderson
In a delightfully easy film opening, we meet Keanu Reeves’ Thomas Anderson at his workplace in a high-rise in San Francisco. In the multimedia company of his unloved partner Smith (Jonathan Groff), he is the game developer behind a billion-dollar success: his “Matrix” game made three world-famous parts, now the parent company is demanding a sequel.
At the latest when the name “Warner Bros.” is mentioned in a company conference, the self-reference reaches its amazing punch line. Especially for fans who know about the making of this film, which Warner would have made with or without Lana Wachowski. So if Anderson is just the inventor of a game that is representative of the well-known film trilogy, what about his adventures in the digital world that he passed as a Neo? Did he just make it up? The weary bearded man, who speaks in a low voice, doesn’t exactly look as if he could answer this question himself. Or would run after the nearest white rabbit to find out.
Matrix Resurrections in the cinema: Morpheus now played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
Only a regular visitor to the faceless café around the corner seems to awaken a faint memory. Carrie-Anne Moss plays this familiar figure named Tiffany. When an overzealous work colleague absolutely has to establish contact, the latte macchiato drinker and mother of two children also gets a strange feeling. “Do we know each other from somewhere?”
The compelling romantic idea of Wachowski’s “Matrix” -Déjà-vu are two lovers, whose feelings and identity have sunk into the false world they once fought. And for a long time, 57-year-old Reeves played the warrior as if you couldn’t even wear him to hunt. Anyone who tries anyway is an old friend: Morpheus, now played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II instead of Lawrence Fishburne. Again he leads Anderson into the white room of unlimited possibilities, sparsely furnished with two lounge chairs in Eames design and a 1960s television.
Matrix Resurrections: Neo, Morpheus, the blue and the red pill
Morpheus still has the red and blue pills at hand for changing levels of reality on the fly. Obviously, Anderson’s help is urgently needed in an out of joint matrix reality. In a tour de force he leads the newly appointed Neo and us through a medley of the greatest hits, especially the first part. Who would want something different in a reunion concert?
But it is more than a clipping parade. Wachowski cleverly re-enacts iconic moments, changing them slightly, as if she wanted to emphasize the relativity of every representation. Some things seem more reduced, like the liquid mirror that she herself copied from a classic film, Jean Cocteau’s “Orpheé”; another more opulent: like the surreal metamorphosis, where Neo wakes up in a liquid cocoon, cared for by flying metal insects.
Matrix Resurrections. USA 2021. Regie: Lana Wachowski. 148 Min.
A new figure has been lovingly distilled from an earlier role as an extra – a new action heroine grows out of the window cleaner of a virtual glass facade. The fact that the actual fight scenes seem even more confusing and chaotic than in the third part is also due to the filmmaker’s stylistic development: Since “Cloud Atlas”, the Wachowski style has broken with the earlier, strictly composed design of anime backgrounds. The emotional line emerges all the more stringently, a rarity in current blockbuster cinema.
Matrix Resurrections: Does Trinity want her bourgeois life back?
The actual virtuality debate is that of a private subjunctive: Would Trinity even want to swap her bourgeois life for another ride on love and death? And, unlike cycling, do you forget to fly after all?
The 54-year-old Carrie-Anne Moss is the true rediscovery of this film and leaves us puzzling over her possible answer in a wonderfully reduced game. Or, as Morpheus once put it: “Who can resist if you don’t even know what is real?” (Daniel Kothenschulte)