The Matrix 5 Has Nowhere to Go But Down

Rewatching Matrix Resurrections convinced me of one thing: The Matrix 5 is doomed to fail.

Neo in The Matrix
Warner Bros.

Last night, for the first time since 2021, I watched The Matrix: Resurrections. And for the most part, I liked it — until I didn’t. But it all convinced me of one simple thing: The Matrix 5 is doomed.

Back in 2021, I had built Resurrections up in my head to the point that it was destined to crash and burn. Not only was this a sequel to my favorite movie ever (plus two more films that I begrudgingly like a little more each time I watch them), but I became convinced that Matrix 4 could do the impossible. I indulged in wild fan theories, speculating that the movie would reference a spinoff video game I’d never even played to explain how Morpheus died offscreen in between Revolutions and Resurrections. Of course, it did not such thing.

Instead, Lana Wachowski’s divisive Matrix four-quel seems to defy the very franchise it belongs to. (Not a huge surprise considering Warner basically threatened to make the movie with or without its original creators’ involvement.)

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in Matrix Resurrections.

Warner Bros.

The first half of Resurrections is a brilliant self-parody. Neo is back in a new matrix, now convinced he’s the legendary video game developer behind a trilogy of mind-bending Matrix games. When his corporate bosses at Warner demand a sequel, the torturous experience of mining IP for profit breaks his brain and allows the seams of the matrix to shine through.

This all works remarkably well, but it’s the second half of Resurrections where things fall apart. The movie overloads us with exposition, explaining how the peace brokered by Neo between man and machine at the end of the trilogy fell apart. And the final act devolves into an extended action sequence that looks… fine.

The Matrix Resurrections devolves into a pretty boring final act.

Warner Bros.

Writing for Inverse back in 2021, indie genre filmmaker Adam Egypt Mortimer argued that Lana Wachowski had chosen to intentionally abandon her own aesthetic. “Lana, like Neo, is compelled to resist control, to courageously reject her own aesthetic in favor of following the truth,” he wrote. But when your original aesthetic is timelessly cool visuals and incredibly fluid combat, maybe ditching all that with no discernible replacement is a mistake?

This brings me to The Matrix 5. Yesterday, news broke that a new Matrix movie is in the works from writer-director Drew Goddard (Cabin In the Woods, Cloverfield, The Martian, World War Z). Neither of the Wachowski sisters are involved directly, though Lana had a potentially meaningless executive producer credit.

No more Neo, please.

Warner Bros.

Goddard is a talented filmmaker, though his filmography is far from flawless. And apparently he approached Warner with an exciting pitch they couldn’t refuse, though it’s safe to assume the studio was just waiting for a chance to milk this beloved franchise. But even with the best possible intentions, Matrix 5 seemingly has everything going against it.

Resurrections already offered both the perfect meta sequel and a soulless blockbuster spectacle all in one untidy package. The only thing left for Goddard would be a slavish devotion to the style of the original Matrix movie, but as all three existing sequels so far prove, lightning only strikes once.

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