Matrix Resurrections Rage Against Machines – and the Metaverse, by Dante A. Ciampaglia


In the spring of 1999, the world entered a new century. He braced for a Y2K computer collapse, grappling with millennial paranoia, witnessed widening class and wealth divides, and battled the rapidly changing culture online. Into that din came The Matrix of the Wachowski, its sexy, leather-clad cyberpunk heroes battling kung fu and dodging the Men in Black avatars of an evil empire on a quest to awaken humanity to their enslavement by machines in an invisible pen called the Matrix. It blew us away – it still wows us – by fundamentally changing sci-fi and action movies and providing a vocabulary for our burgeoning digital experience: plug in, unplug, rabbit holes, take the red pill.

The Matrix turned into a trilogy, which seemed to end pretty definitively with The Matrix Revolutions (2003): Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss) were dead, and after watching it, many viewers took to wish they were too. The series, which also includes The Matrix Reloaded (2003), was never short of ideas, in fact they swell with each entry, but the ability to do anything with them seemed to diminish in direct proportion. So many threads of history. So many hackneyed resolutions. (A group of killing machines coming together to form, in Voltron style, something called Deus Ex Machina? Seriously?) And all the philosophical double talk. By the time the credits fell on Revolutions, we all seemed to be okay with leaving The Matrix behind.

And why not? Look at the world since the first film rocked the multiplexes. We are inundated with Big Tech corporate messages about entering the metaverse. We have voluntarily ceded all kinds of decision-making to AI-powered devices. If you believe Elon Musk, there is a 99.99% chance that we are living in a computer simulation. And let’s not forget authoritarianism, genocide and the general collapse of civilization fomented by social media. We may not live in pods of pink goo, but we are just as obligingly plugged into machines that seem to be the dominant force over humanity rather than the other way around. The Matrix Dystopia – a future Earth dominated by machines that turned humans into comatose batteries by enslaving them in an elaborate simulation of late 20th century civilization – looks odd compared to our actual digital nightmare.

After all of this, how does anyone get back into the Matrix? Why even try?

For a studio like Warner Brothers, it’s all about intellectual property. And in December, he released The Matrix Resurrections, the fourth film in a series that no one seemed to want to resurrect, including co-creator Lilly Wachowski. Her sister, Lana, was more accommodating. When the studio announced that they were doing another Matrix with or without her, she joined in and wrote and directed a film that was as thrilling and bizarre as it was unexpected. Because, in this case, Silicon Valley has created new fertile ground for the Matrix universe to expand and take on the Orwellian dystopia normalization platforms, companies and technologies that predict, model and change our behavior.

In terms of plot: Thomas Anderson / Neo is alive and well, now a rockstar designer who made his fortune designing the video game trilogy The Matrix. He feels bad, as if the world is not what it seems. He has nightmares and flashes of memories from another life, but everyone around him – his colleagues, his boss (Jonathan Groff), his analyst (Neil Patrick Harris) – assures him that he is only doing overcome his trauma as a suicide survivor and he has to take more of his blue pills. It accepts it until an application it is running does not work. This modal, a recreation of the Matrix we see in the first movie, is hacked by Bugs (Jessica Henwick), a real-world resistance captain, who extracts a program from the modal that’s on the same quest as her. : find Neo and undermine the Matrix, which has been recreated since the Revolutions. (We learn in Reloaded that the events take place in the sixth iteration of the Matrix, so this news is at least the seventh.) Things go wrong when the modal program released – its version of Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) – try the red pill Anderson. Anderson’s boss turns out to be a reborn Agent Smith, Trinity has been redefined as the avid motorcycle mother of two Tiffany’s who have no memory of a previous life, and Anderson’s analyst is the new one. Matrix architect. Once Anderson is resurrected as Neo, the mission is to also extract Trinity and disrupt Matrix 7.0.

Of course, everything is convoluted, it’s a Matrix movie. But it is also a kind of red herring. The plot is a vehicle to attack the perversion of the digital promise.

The original film was released at the end of Web 1.0, when the Internet was still a bit tinkered and messy (think GeoCities websites and UseNet groups). He died when the dot-com bubble burst, replaced by Web 2.0, which was about sharing and connectivity, but really commerce and consumption. Businesses and advertisers have reconstituted life online around free blogs, free social networks, free search engines, and cheap stuff to mine our data and get fabulously rich. While we weren’t looking, the Internet was razed to the ground and consolidated into fiefdoms; its tattered democracy replaced by a plutocratic surveillance capitalism; passions flattened in content. And now that returns on investment in 2.0 are leveling off, the oligarchs are pushing us into the metaverse. (A matrix under another name …)

Accounting for these changes is the backbone of resurrections. This is evident in the way the world of the Matrix has evolved, as the characters navigate in, around and out of the Matrix using doors, mirrors, and other portals – the way we use hyperlinks and tabs. to roam today’s Internet – rather than old phones and dial-up modems. It is also everywhere in the dialogue. The Matrix “arms every idea, every dream, everything that matters to us,” says Bugs. “If we don’t know what’s real, we can’t resist. (Facebook, is that you?) Or, “It’s so easy to forget the noise the Matrix throws in your head until you unplug it,” says Gen. Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith). (Hello, Twitter!) Or “What validates and makes real your fictions? Feelings, ”the analyst told Neo at one point. “Have you ever wondered why you have nightmares?” In fact, we are the ones who maximize your production. He talks about energy to power machines, but that could just as easily apply to the data fueling Jeff Bezos’ wealth. (For good measure, the analyst talks a lot about “the costumes” and making money, which, to paraphrase Captain Kirk, what does a robot need with a bank account?)


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