Return to the Matrix one last time via the home release of “The Matrix Resurrections.”

Throughout the special features, one thing that keeps repeating from original franchise actor Keanu Reeves is the comment that people have been telling him since the release of 1999’s The Matrix that the films changed their lives. It may seem, to some, like a stretch that a film could possibly have such an impact on someone, yet it’s true. The original three-film franchise conceived, written, and directed by Lana and Lilly Wachowski used the metaphor of a war between humankind and machines resulting in humanity’s physical and mental imprisonment as a source of fuel for the machines. They used the metaphor as a means to explore a myriad of ideas constructed around a tale borrowing from a variety of religions and philosophies. Like any other piece of art, it inspired a generation to rethink how they viewed their lives, to ask how they themselves might be captive in a prison of their own making. For me, a budding cinephile with an inclination toward literary analysis? It was my first real push to explore ancient philosophy, setting me on a path that would quite literally change my life in ways I could not see at the time. If, like me, you still find The Matrix an astounding piece of fiction and Resurrections a brilliant way to finish out the Neo and Trinity tale, rejoice! The roughly 111 minutes of bonus features included in this home release will not only permit a deeper dive into the technical approach of the Lana Wachowski solo-directed The Matrix Resurrections, but it will answer some questions regarding why Resurrections is so visibly so different from the original trilogy.

If you’re looking for a spoiler-free exploration of The Matrix Resurrections, please head to the initial theatrical release review. Moving forward, there will be no discretion regarding narrative plot points and other spoilers.


L-R: Actos Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jessica Henwick on the set of Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and Venus Castina Productions’ THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

At the end of The Matrix Revolutions (2003), Neo (Reeves) made a deal with machine leader Deus Ex Machina (voiced by Henry Blasingame) that would help purge rampant program Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) from the Matrix in exchange for a chance at peace between the two warring factions. As Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) had given her life to get Neo to machine city 01, Neo’s sacrifice for humanity was as much to make her death have meaning as his own. Despite their deaths, both Neo and Trinity are alive and well in a new Matrix, except Neo is once more Thomas Anderson, game developer who created the video game “The Matrix,” and Trinity is now Tiffany, married woman and mother. With seemingly no memory of their battle against the machines, it’s unclear if their lives are just another cycle of the One, another system of control, or something else. Thanks to freedom fighter Bugs (Jessica Henwick) and her band of misfits, answers are coming and neither Thomas nor Tiffany are ready for them.


L-R: Keanu Reeves as Neo/ Thomas Anderson and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity in Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and Venus Castina Productions’ THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

When Matrix 4 was originally announced, I didn’t care. I couldn’t possibly conceive of a story in which it would make sense to have Neo and Trinity return from the dead. Then I saw the first trailer and everything changed. Not only was it a thrill to see Reeves and Moss back in these roles, but the bread crumbs in these first few images, these first few scenes, implied that this was more than a cash grab, it was a tale which would feed off the original trilogy in a natural way. Given even the barest of rewatches of the original trilogy, the shift in visual style could be explained by the final scene in Revolutions in which young program Sati (Tanveer K. Atwal) purposefully alters the sky to a more colorful, natural look within the Matrix in honor of Neo. With the prominent appearance of Priyanka Chopra Jonas in a then unknown character, the immediate presumption is that Sati would be involved. What we didn’t know then that we know now is that Sati is the key to it all. We also didn’t understand how Yahya Abdul-Mateen II fit into everything, though his costuming suggested Morpheus which implied a replacement of original Morpheus actor Laurence Fishburne. The answers the film offers are simple yet also complex, as one might expect from the sometimes overly complicated franchise. Some found the answers pretentious and uninspired, whereas, to me, each one could be traced back to a different moment in the franchise, especially the first film.


Priyanka Chopra Jonas as Sati in Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and Venus Castina Productions’ THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

In the original film, Morpheus explains “That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison for your mind.” This was true of the original Matrix and remains true in Resurrections, except, this time, instead of using order to keep its inhabitants complacent, this new Matrix uses emotions, creating a feedback loop wherein Neo keeps himself trapped, inwardly terrified constantly that the world he knows isn’t real yet desperate to believe that it is. We’ve seen plenty of television programs which have used a similar tactics to control its lead character, usually using some kind of mind control or illusion in an attempt to pacify the protagonist without a physical confrontation. In this case, it’s not just a trope for the sake of a trope, but designed specifically to explore how we keep ourselves trapped in a prison of the mind, perpetually unable to move forward because we’ve convinced ourselves that the next step is too hard, too risky, too likely to fail. As award-winning game designer Thomas Anderson, one might think that he’d have it all, yet he’s constantly isolated, cut off from any connection of real value. One could wonder how much of that is of the design of The Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris), the program pulling the strings, or Thomas’s own doing as he struggles with being a part of a world he subconsciously knows isn’t real. There’s some amusement in watching Thomas go through his rebirthing process via clipped/remixed scenes from the original film, like seeing a terrified Thomas run from Morpheus in the bathroom in a twist on their initial phone call office sequence and end up in a firefight very reminiscent of the rescue sequence, both in the ’99 film. But I don’t think it’s intentionally amusing in the same way as, say, the intentionality of the scenes with the programmers waxing poetic about what The Matrix means (a clear statement from Lana about how her and her sister’s work has been co-opted by others), so much as it’s comical seeing the once stoic warrior flee from the truth he once craved. Some found this a regressive treatment of a character whom we’d seen fight endless foes with relative ease, except Neo never wanted to fight. He didn’t want to be the One nor did he believe he was. He did, however, love Trinity and he trusted Morpheus. Trinity was the fighter, the one who could take out any number of plugged-in avatars, who commanded the Nebuchadnezzar in Morpheus’s absence, who took charge when Neo decided to try to save Morpheus from Agent Smith. If you watch the original films closely, not only is Neo in search of himself free from the Matrix, but he’s also trying to live up to what Trinity believes him to be. Thus, seeing him (a) run from anything that might put the sleeping Tiffany in danger, (b) reject violence where possible, and (c) accept Trinity’s newfound One-like abilities, makes a great deal of sense.


L-R: Neil Patrick Harris as The Analyst and Keanu Reeves as Neo/ Thomas Anderson in Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and Venus Castina Productions’ THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

None of the above even scratches the surface of the minutiae Lana and Resurrection co-writers David Mitchell (Sense8) and Aleksandar Hemon (iSense8) crafted into the mix. But that’s where the bonus features come in. If you’re like me, finding new details on subsequent rewatches, then the extensive materials included with the home release should be your first stop after you’ve seen the film. On the comical side, the almost nine-minute featurette “No One Can Be Told What the Matrix Is,” the cast of Resurrections provides a summary of the original trilogy. It’s quite adorable watching all of them explain the timeline of events, just in case you need a refresher before watching the other bonus features or rewatching the film. But if it’s answers you’re looking for regarding why the film was made and some of the choices that drew some ire, you’re going to want to watch “Resurrecting The Matrix,” a nearly 30-minute featurette in which Lana, the writers, the cast, and various members of the crew go into the making of the film. This means getting a bit of background on what inspired the script, the writing process, how the cast felt about coming aboard, how to approach the new characters, how to approach the remixed characters, and more. Personally, learning how Lana shifted her directorial approach from the original trilogy to now (fewer storyboards, fewer studio-built sets, fewer manufactured and controllable settings), makes some of the differences within Resurrections make a great deal more sense beyond thematically. Returning to Sati for a moment, the more realistic sky in Resurrections can be tied back to her as a child and the recreation of the Matrix for those who want to remain within it. Her character has a more significant role than that in Resurrections, but let’s explore this specific aspect as it relates to the making of the film. In the featurette, Lana explains how she and Lilly sought to control every aspect of shooting, cast and crew members offer examples of this throughout all the bonus features, to the point that the false reality of the original trilogy was preferred due to its ease of manipulation. You can’t control nature, so setting up shots without knowing what your light would look like, going into a fight scene with a rough idea of intent, being open to shooting a scene from multiple angles with multiple takes without stopping, required a certain amount of letting go of control. There’s freedom in that for Lana. Thus, the shift in cinematography, the shift in color palette, the shift in action sequences, all are a result of the change within Lana to let go of control and allow the moment to define or create art. Sounds like freedom from a prison of the mind to me.


L-R: Director of photography Daniele Massaccesi and director/co-writer/producer Lana Wachowski on the set of Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and Venus Castina Productions’ THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

The other individual featurettes — “Neo x Trinity: Return to The Matrix,” “Allies + Adversaries: The Matrix Remixed,” and “Matrix 4 Life” — total roughly 23 minutes and offer deeper dives into aspects introduced within “Resurrecting.” Typically, when a home release has such copious amount of bonus materials, there’s a lot of overlapping from one talking head interview portion to another, yet that doesn’t appear to be the case here, with most information being unique to the topic. This creates a lovely tapestry of new-found information to help color the creation of the film. The last portion, “The Matrix Reactions,” can be watched individually or as a single 49-minute featurette covering the design and creation of nine different sequences. Sadly the influence of The Animatrix (2003) (that fight scene with Neo and Morpheus sure does seem like the opening of Final Flight of the Osiris) doesn’t get any recognition, nor do little amusing details like machine city 01 versus human-machine hybrid city IØ. Unsurprisingly, the details within each featurette are less walkthroughs of how the scenes were structured and more reactions from the cast and crew of how they shot them. Returning fight choreographer Tiger Hu Chen (Triple Threat), for instance, talks about the impressiveness of non-action actor Jonathan Groff (Hamilton) who took quite quickly to the physicality of the role, while Groff himself spoke quite excitedly about being in a remixed version of Weaving’s role and his trepidation of tossing a sink at Reeves. While Groff discusses this, we are shown both the on-set version of the sink toss and the final version, allowing us to see the clear plastic curved shield Reeves uses to create the visual skeleton VFX will later turn into Neo’s defensive telekinetic shield. The combination of showing while telling isn’t exactly 1-1, but there’s no denying how much we do learn about the making of the film through the “Reactions” series.


L-R: Keanu Reeves as Neo/Thomas Anderson and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus in Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and Venus Castina Productions’ THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS, a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Rather than go through each referential moment of Resurrections, I encourage you to revisit the original trilogy ahead of (re)watching Resurrections. Someone such as myself might be able to tell you how the Sati connection refers back to the final moments of Revolutions, how Neo’s version of the One has always been different because he shared the responsibility with Trinity (seen actualized here), or how The Analyst’s plan to literally resurrect Neo and Trinity makes sense from a program absent logic and driven by an understanding of emotion. But no one can really tell you these things. If you want to know them, balls to bones, you have to discover them for yourself.

The Matrix Resurrections 4K UHD combo pack and Blu-ray Special Features:

  • No One Can Be Told What the Matrix Is (8:53)
  • Resurrecting The Matrix (29:59)
  • Neo x Trinity: Return to The Matrix (8:16)
  • Allies + Adversaries: The Matrix Remixed (8:28)
  • Matrix 4 Life (6:19)
  • The Matrix Reactions (49:13)
    • Echo Opening (5:35)
    • Deus Ex Machina (4:46)
    • Welcome to IØ (5:17)
    • Morpheus vs Neo (4:00)
    • Exiles Fight (5:21)
    • Neo vs Smith (4:12)
    • Bullet Time Redux (4:34)
    • The San Fran Chase (7:32)
    • The San Fran Jump (7:57)

The Matrix Resurrections DVD Special Features:

  • The Matrix Reactions: Welcome to IØ (5:17)

Available on digital January 25th, 2022.
Available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD March 8th, 2022.

For more information, head to Warner Bros. Pictures’s official The Matrix website.

Categories: Films To Watch, Home Release, Recommendation

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