Movie: The Matrix Resurrections
To give a basic overview of the plot, the movie starts with Neo being in a reality where he's just a game programmer and a tired aging geek who is, a few minutes later, forced to begin work on a new part of his famous game, named "The Matrix". People around him seem very keen on making a sequel, but Neo appears to be uneager and hesitant. Some minutes later after an annoying work meeting, in a cafe Neo - or Thomas Anderson - meets Trinity - or, in this reality, Tiffany - who is now a middle-aged mother burdened with a nagging family. After that, plotwise, the movie ultimately resorts to repeating what happened in the first part of the franchise: Neo has to be rescued from the matrix, he's presented with a choice again, he ruminates on it, eventually leaving the matrix, only to return to save Trinity. In the end, it turns out that Neo and Trinity are the One together; the movie doesn't explain how and why that works.
In my opinion, the movie begins quite well: it wittily makes fun of film studios churning out new and new sequels, prequels, remakes, reboots, and so on, mocks the specific kind of people who find a confirmation of their ideology in every single work, ridicules the game designers who push for pandering to the lowest common denominator ("Matrix is for everyone!"). It shoots down the skin-deep, superficial interpretations of the first movie. All of it was quite exciting and funny to watch, and I also loved the brooding uncertainty the main character begins to fall into, confused between what is real and what isn't. At that stage, The Matrix Resurrections does look promising. Some interesting questions are posed, for instance, if it's possible to differentiate really wanting something and being deeply programmed - by the "architect" of the world or by society itself - to desire it. This section of the movie does try to say something.
But then all the ideas just fade away, and the film gets progressively worse after Thomas Anderson becomes sure that this reality is a simulation and gets rescued from the simulation by a cliché blue-haired rebellious punk girl. Questions of romance between Neo and Trinity are given an absurd amount of screen time, with all the characters taking ridiculous risks for Neo and Trinity to reunite. Even the action scenes are unremarkable and dull, and the comic relief characters don't work that well. Everything is somewhat predictable with the modern film fads the director just poked fun at repeated, effectively making everything as incoherent as possible.
The movie leaves an abundance of questions, and most of them are not a "good" kind. The narrative seems to be unintentionally confusing, with the segments just not coming together. It feels like a dragged-out meta-ironic joke, executed so well that most of the audience will miss the humor right until the ending scene with the villain being the voice of reason, and the main characters' duo just shrugging it off and behaving in silly ways. Nevertheless, I'm somewhat inclined to consider that the director did mean everything expressed in the second part of the movie: it's all acted out a bit too seriously to be a gag. It would also be quite easy to dismiss the movie as the mediocrity it is, and forget about any analysis, considering the possibility that even the director didn't know what the message of the movie was supposed to be.
First, I would like to underline that the first movie in the tetralogy is essentially about accepting the "cold, hard truth" and reality, breaking out of some system (and the system depends on a particular interpretation), and helping others to break out of it. Here, although helping "prisoners" of the matrix is still a theme, the narrative is not about truth but about feelings and romance: extra attention is given to the characters' feelings and intuitions, and especially to love: the central point is getting Neo and Trinity together. Now, the first movie did pay attention to the feeling Neo had too, but to me "a splinter in your mind, driving you mad" wasn't an inability to cope with the hardships of reality, or a desire to escape into a fantasy world, or to reform reality to be a fantasy world, but an unrelenting desire to search for the truth.
In this film, the matrix isn't seen as something inherently evil because it's all fake, and the heroic duo isn't aiming to destroy the machines' fantasy that is this reality. They just want to reshape it into something that would supposedly be "better". "Helping" "prisoners" of the matrix here means reforming the prison to have a rainbow ceiling.
In some cases, the matrix may even be seen as a potential environment for further self-expression; this is hinted at in the case of one of the main characters, the blue-haired rebel, who doesn't have her disheveled blue hairstyle in the real world, instead sporting a basic black undercut, with all the hair slicked back, making her look much more ordinary.
So, considering all that, what's the system to be reformed? The first movie left it as an unanswered question, making the audience ponder it endlessly. But here there are numerous clues toward what is the supposed "system" that is to be escaped or reformed.
All the interpretations are made fun of in the beginning, making the characters spouting them look, at best, parroting others, and at worst idiotic and self-contradictory, like the guy who annoys Neo with questions about the deep philosophical foundations of the franchise and his opinions on the answers, but later reveals that what he thinks is most important in the upcoming game is the "bullet time" visual effect. All interpretations - but one, that became more apparent in recent years.
That interpretation is the transgenderism theme. Now, I think it was quite hard to push that interpretation for the first movie because all there was to work with that somehow tied into the needed message were the red pills (similar to the estrogen pills transgenders take), partly the "feeling that something isn't right" (supposedly experienced by people who want to change their gender, but it could equally be applied to any other insecurity or complex, and the gender dysphoria interpretation feels like a giant stretch), and the transgendered-ness of both directors (even though they came out years later after the movie). It's all so far-fetched and not fitting with the rest of the story in Matrix 1: many more themes and undertones that aren't simply explained by some character being transgender.
But here it's almost like everything has been done to reinforce that interpretation: there is a focus on the "feeling", with the therapist supposedly playing "conversion therapy" and convincing Neo that it's all his imagination and trauma, the apparent ability to "reshape reality" (and encouragement to do so, even though the goals are very blurry and unprecise, and so are the means to do so; when the main villain confronts them about it, nothing of meaning is replied), or rather to reshape the collective fantasy (the gender system) of reality instead of breaking from it (which is a big point in the transgenderism's "philosophy": if you could break away from the gender stereotypes that are forced on you, you wouldn't need to artificially change your body to fit the imagined version that is forced on you by society due to perceived non-conforming to some other rule of it). The somewhat traditional family Trinity has is also portrayed as something unwanted, a part of some erroneous fantasy: Trinity even abandons her kids and husband because of some abstract "feeling".
Basically, the whole movie constantly beats you over the head with the "progressive" ideology, as much as it can with such an aimless storyline. Funnily enough, the directors used to deny that the series had a transgender agenda in mind, but decided that it did around a year before this movie came out.
To conclude, regarding the storyline, there weren't many innovations. I would even go so far as to say there were none at all, except for the first 20 minutes. Nevertheless, there was a new agenda introduced and some emphasis made on the fact that if you feel that something is wrong, you have to embrace the feeling and throw away as much of your life as needed. The main characters also choose to remain in the matrix, therefore still choosing to be somewhat "blue-pilled", instead of gaining access to reality.
The movie definitely isn't forgettable if you think about it deeply, and it does provide things to think about (although as for me, I don't agree with the main messages), but it still largely sticks to the tried and true, pandering to the current trends in terms of majority's opinions. The weak ending is expected, but is still quite a disappointment. If I was asked to rate it, I would give it a 4 out of 10.