“The Matrix Resurrections” is a frontal attack on “The Matrix”

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Lana Wachowski understands the aesthetics of cinema better than anyone.

With the relentlessness of a great white shark, she vigorously searches for a new aesthetic (the way form, color, sound and design create an emotional experience) for each new project. Think about all the things you associate with The matrix ’99:

  • The perfect green tone of the matrix
  • The destabilized relationship of space and time visualized with bullet time
  • The complete lack of established plans and the claustrophobia of the nameless city
  • The feeling of icy freshness in amber 1999
  • The perfectly structured fight sequences designed by Yuen Woo-ping
  • The whole and perfect tone

These elements (and many more) combine to give a very clear look and feel that we all recognize as “the Matrix franchise”.

Matrix resurrections has none.

Twenty-two years ago The matrix used bullet time to introduce people to what it might mean to decouple space and time from their constraints, a breakthrough that felt like awakening to a whole new level of reality. The 2021 Matrix must figure out how to cinematically portray the feeling that two decades later, we are all always here in this shaky, messy reality.

Think of the game designer who became an agent in Resurrections who keeps saying “Bullet time!” Over and over again, filing the edges of an idea that was once mind boggling to become a joke in Shrek. Or as Jessica Henwick’s Bugs puts it, “They took your story, something that meant so much to people like me, and turned it into something trivial. This is what the matrix does. He arms every idea. Every dream.

In a few seconds, Resurrections specifies that this rejection is a deliberate assault. The foreground, a puddle in the street with the upside down reflection of a SWAT team approaching in slow motion, is beautiful and powerful. Then a cop’s boot tramples the puddle, destroying the beauty beneath his heel. We are not just through the mirror – the mirror is broken.

that of Lana Wachowskianti-aesthetic

“Why use old code to reflect something new?” “Warner Bros.

In Resurrections, the brilliant-cool aesthetic of the first trilogy is continually and resolutely shattered by its own creator. This is Lana Wachowski using a anti-the aesthetic and intentional ugliness to express the current state of reality and to question how the aesthetics of The matrix the franchise may have turned out to work like the matrix itself.

“The Matrix has an aesthetic genealogy,” Lana said during a 2014 talk to the DePaul University School of Cinema and Interactive Media Visual Artist Series. “Aesthetics are like the DNA of art… it’s a reflection, it’s how artists reveal themselves and their aesthetic choices.

So why does she have to waste bullet time? The grain of the film tinted green? The perfection of the Yuen Woo-ping fight scene?

Because Lana, like Neo, is forced to resist control, courageously rejecting her own aesthetic in favor of the truth. As Seq de Toby Onwumere says at the start of Matrix resurrections, “Why use old code to reflect something new?” “

“Human suffering is so lucrative that we can no longer even witness a matrix that looks cool. “

It’s not just Lana who says her original story was twisted by its sequels, by her company, by her fans (although that could be part of it). It is she who looks deep in the mirror and sees herself – the architect, the creator – as part of the matrix simulation, the real forces of control and capital and destabilization in our world. This is a criticism that the philosopher Jean Baudrillard, whose book Morpheus cites to Neo, launched on the film in 2003:

The matrix is surely the kind of film on the Matrix that the Matrix could have produced… Basically, its distribution on a world scale is an accomplice of the film itself. That is, the Matrix, if it was real, would obscure its actual tactics in making the movie The matrix.

This is exactly what the matrix, in Resurrections, had Neo do it. (Although here it’s a video game, to better explore the hold it has on our minds and bodies.)

“People always hate it when you attack a dominant aesthetic.”Warner Bros.

So now Lana, an ever-evolving filmmaker, wants to deconstruct the style of the original. She relentlessly reminds us of the aesthetic of the old franchise making it appear like the memories – the nostalgia – of the characters so that we have an emotional reaction to the old images (desire, bittersweet joy, frustration) while wondering why she stripped that daring look away in favor of the bland color gamut of all mundane drama.

Wachowski even asks his villain, The Analyst by Neil Patrick Harris, to explain this aesthetic choice. He created a matrix with more ugliness as a systemic tool to optimize efficiency. For the analyst, human suffering is so lucrative that we can no longer even witness a matrix that looks cool.

And yet, Lana knows people are going to panic.

“People always hate it when you attack a dominant aesthetic,” she said in the same 2014 speech. “People almost feel violent.

Reject “the aesthetic of the franchise”

“We had the grace. We had style!Warner Bros.

In 2021, the dominant mood is frustration and the dominant aesthetic is the franchise aesthetics. Filmmakers step into a universe – whether it’s a movie episode or an episode of a series – and they adapt or conform their personal vision to the aesthetic of the franchise. The genius of the Marvel movies, for example, is that even the most creative still feel like a “Marvel movie”.

As a free-thinking artist in a franchise about rejecting systemic control, Lana must reject the dominant aesthetic of the franchise. She wants us to compare her movies, have an emotional reaction (desire, bittersweet joy, frustration) and ask ourselves why she is forcing us to do this.

“We miss the feeling of the older, fresher prison. “

We look The matrix from inside the matrix. We miss the feeling of the older, fresher prison. (Isn’t it weird that all the rebels want to take the Matrix down, but every time they go they dress for a party, skinned as if their personal aesthetic within the prison is the most important thing. freedoms?) and when The Matrix Reloaded The Merovingian (Lambert Wilson) introduces himself, this once shrewd, now scruffy and miserable sophist, blames Neo for the terrible aesthetics of this modern world.

“We had the grace. We had style! yells the Merovingian. “Originality mattered! You gave us the face-zucker-fuck and Cock-me-climatey-Wiki-piss-and-shit. (Monica Bellucci is too beautiful and perfect to go through this degradation – she must have slipped into another knot a long time ago.) Yet even though her fight with Neo is one of the Resurrections‘better fights, the bizarre and howling dialogue of the Merovingian is the most captivating element of the scene.

Matrix resurrections is a love story

Where the key image of The matrix In ’99 Neo leans back to dodge bullets, here Tom Anderson leans forward to hear Carrie-Anne Moss’ Tiffany talk about his life.Warner Bros.

Resurrections is not interested in fighting. The love story is the toss. Where the key image of The matrix In ’99 Neo leans back to dodge bullets, here Tom Anderson leans forward to hear Carrie-Anne Moss’ Tiffany talk about his life. Because Neo had to be removed from the Matrix before he could fall in love, we had never seen these two before in a love story that looked like our own lives: A prosperous but depressed man in a San Francisco cafe talking to a mother of two while denying his own needs. The scene is shot simply – shot, reverse shot, Steadicam two shots – but she feels electric. It’s extremely honest, more like a moment in an Eric Rohmer or Richard Linklater movie than something you’d see in a sci-fi action sequel.

Compare the coffee scene to Resurrections‘Dull train fight in Tokyo. It’s clear that for Lana, the real action in this movie is the human connection. Lana strips the Matrix aesthetic in search of what is beyond the wilderness of the real. What remains is love.

When I first tweeted my thoughts on Resurrections, some people responded with variations of “Just say you like a bad movie”. But it is not about good and bad. It’s about looking at the aesthetics and wondering why the movie is the way it is. Good and Bad is a silly binary to put on any movie, especially one that rejects binaries over and over again.

So what’s left after Lana’s assault on her own franchise? The love of a woman, the love of a woman and the power of this woman in love.

After Trinity wakes up fully, the movie finally turns into something unmistakably cool: a big-budget, high-contrast zombie flick with Trinity at the helm as she and Neo speed off on a motorbike while that bodies fall around them – literal suicide bombs launched by the imbalanced analyst. (I use the movie “zombie” as another example of aesthetic choice. Lana also borrows from Lamberto Bava’s mood (backlit smoke, glowing eyes) and speed of World War Z, denoting the literal curse of a “resurrection”. )

At the end, Matrix resurrections becomes a kind of zombie movie.Warner Bros.

At the very end, once Trinity is integrated, Lana chooses a new and exciting aesthetic that is reminiscent of another Baudrillard quote that Lana Wachowski almost certainly encountered as well. Speaking of the imagination of men, he says:

“We dreamed of all the women that exist, and also dreamed of the miracle that would bring us the pleasure of being a woman, because women have all the qualities – courage, passion, capacity to love, cunning – while all our imagination can do, it is naively accumulating the illusion of courage.

All Resurrections heads to that moment of courage, a climax where Trinity and Neo dare to jump off a building to prove to themselves that their memories of the Matrix – and their love – are real. And yet, even here, Lana turns down epic CGI magic in favor of two actors hanging from wires above a cityscape: the simple stripped joy of seeing Keanu and Carrie-Anne hold hands in the air, a human connection represented at mythological heights.

Lana turns down epic CGI magic in favor of two actors hanging from wires above a cityscape.Warner Bros.

Matrix resurrections plays in theaters and on HBO Max

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