Is The Matrix Resurrections the worst sequel ever made? How could they get it so wrong? Was the film actually sabotaged? Let’s discuss.
Enter the Matrix
In 1999, The Matrix arrived and our collective minds were blown. The film was a pop culture phenomenon, transforming the sci-fi and action genres. The two sequels, Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions were successful at the box office but divided fans and critics. Despite some gripes fans had with those two films, The Matrix Trilogy was revered and held in high regard nonetheless.
While a few lone voices might have been clamouring for more sequels, the directors felt the story was complete. Over the years, the Wachowskis denied they would make more Matrix films. Lana affirmed their previous reluctance at last year’s Berlin International Literature Festival, stating they felt the story was “concluded” but that “every year Warner Bros. would ask us to make another one.”
Re-Enter the Matrix
It was a surprise when this fourth film, The Matrix Resurrections, was announced. Why make a new film when the series was so conclusively wrapped up? Clearly, the studio was eager to exploit one of their most valued properties, even if resurrecting Neo and Trinity seemed implausible. In spite of seeming like a desperate cash grab, having at least one of the Wachowskis returning to helm the film eased concerns about its artistic direction.
Some may have been wary of a new film but plenty of fans were equally excited for a fourth instalment, curious how a new story could be told and eager to revisit the world again. What we saw however was an unmitigated disaster!
The Matrix Resurrections was so bad some fans have even speculated that Lana did so intentionally. It’s hard to believe a filmmaker would damage their reputation with a studio by deliberately making a bad film. However, cash grabs, endless remakes and reboots, these critical issues surrounding the industry and the franchise are laid bare within the narrative of the fourth film.
The Matrix Resurrections scenes featuring Thomas Anderson with his business partner and creative team at the gaming company he works for are an allegory touching on the relationship between film studios and filmmakers and the financial culture which affects the artistic ambitions and desires of the creators.
Perhaps Lana did feel pressure to make the film, especially if Warner Bros. decided to continue making new Matrix films without the siblings. All this may be true but these clever references to meta-narratives mean absolutely nothing if the actual story of the film as a whole fails to deliver.
What makes the failure of The Matrix Resurrections so monumental is not just the financial losses at the box office but how it fails to live up to the standards of the original trilogy.
The first film was lightning in a bottle. It created new mythology and philosophy, influencing academia, pop culture and filmmaking. It was a phenomenon that grew larger in scope, well beyond the confines of cinema and spilt over into many other spheres of intellectual life and culture. Hence the bar was set insanely high.
The Wachowski’s, however, subverted expectations in each subsequent film but did so at a cost to the quality of the story, which diminished with each film. That said, the bar was still high even after The Matrix: Revolutions. With the latest film, all those high standards of storytelling, action and filmmaking are thrown away for a cynical narrative that ends up becoming too clever for its own good, expiring into poor filmmaking and terrible storytelling.
The first Matrix film has a lofty seat in the pantheon of great films. The same cannot be said for this last film. The Matrix Resurrections’ poor numbers might halt further sequels but the artistic legacy of the franchise has been tarnished. The film shows Neo and Trinity achieving full control of the Matrix and with the ability to remake it as they wish. This can be paralleled to the filmmakers who had full control of the film but instead of successfully resurrecting the brand have re-animated a rotten corpse that should have been left to rest in peace.
Tell us, do you think The Matrix Resurrections is the greatest film disaster of all time?