Quick Thoughts on The Matrix Resurrections

I am sure The Matrix Resurrections has already fed thousands of reviews, think-pieces, and clickbait articles already. I saw it, and the sci-fi film is in line with the topics I cover on my blog, so it seemed relevant to address it here. But I don’t really have much to say.

It was fine. It was an overall enjoyable sci-fi love story with cool fight sequences and a retreaded heroic journey. It was fun to see Keanu Reeves as Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity again. It was interesting to see Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jonathan Groff doing their own versions of Morpheus and Agent Smith. (Jonathan Groff is so good in everything he does, and I somehow never recognize him at the time, which is probably a credit to his performances.) There were other new roles, and returning roles, and references to characters from the other movies. These were all mostly entertaining and/or interesting, as well. None of this movie felt vital or fresh or new, though.

The movie even argued against itself. Thomas Anderson is saddened that he has to make a new Matrix video game, that the studio was going to make one with or without him. Despite his creative involvement, he isn’t sure about what to do with the new game. Plenty of people who grew up with his games tell him what the game should be about. A consensus is never reached. Lana Wachowski is hardly subtle here.

In general, there was nothing subtle about anything in the movie. I don’t think the Wachowskis know how to be subtle. They can be cryptic, but not subtle. That’s fine; they offer big ideas coupled with gripping action sequences. But they’re most fun when setting up a new concept (even when adapting a property or riffing on a genre), like the original The Matrix or Speed Racer or Jupiter Ascending.

I have seen the full Matrix trilogy. I’ve watched those movies maybe twice, once around when they came out and once as a young adult. I’ve enjoyed them. I recognize The Matrix as groundbreaking. But none of them got deep under my skin, like they did for some people, like especially the original did for many people. I don’t remember the details well enough to have a deep appreciation for all the callbacks made in Resurrections. That’s fine. It didn’t ruin my experience.

But Resurrections did not need to exist, and it has not justified its existence or the continuation of the franchise. Maybe die-hard fans will disagree. That’s fine too. I think I’d get more out of just watching the original again. This franchise can go on and on beyond Resurrections if it wants, and that’s fine, but it doesn’t need to, and I won’t care at all if it does.

Review: Mindhunter Season 2

I wrote about the first season of Mindhunter, so I figured I’d type up something quick about season two. In brief: I liked it about as much as the first season.

The structure’s similar: the agents continue to profile serial killers, juggling personal issues that affect their work but are often hidden from the rest of the team, and they ultimately use their profiling to take down an active killer. And, of course, the BTK killer continues to hang over the show, appearing in disturbing short scenes, surely setting up a focus on him in the near future. I could watch several more seasons following that same structure and format before this got old for me. I especially love the continued psychological focus, both on the killers and the agent protagonists. Sure, there are sometimes disturbing images and graphic descriptions, but we’re spared the gleeful depictions of violence that other shows often fixate on.

The core cast remains as engaging as ever. Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) is recovering from his panic attack at the end of season one, while the new support the team receives from higher-ups quickly goes to his head. Dr. Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) becomes increasingly frustrated with being sidelined, sometimes taking steps to become more involved in the investigations, all while trying to date while keeping her sexuality a secret. Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) remains my favorite character as his family struggles become particularly pronounced over this season (also worth noting that the soundtrack is especially effective when dealing with Bill’s family drama/trauma: an eerie tune made uncomfortably familiar by the first season is used now in his interactions with his son, suggesting Bill’s fears even as he often remains silent about his actual feelings). The fourth, unwelcome member of the group, Gregg Smith (Joe Tuttle) remains relatively unimportant and is increasingly sidelined by the new boss brought in at the start of the season. Meanwhile, Atlanta FBI agent Jim Barney (Albert Jones) proves a great resource when Holden and Bill go hunting for a killer in Georgia. Frankly, the binge-oriented bulk release of episodes on Netflix does tend to impair my ability to remember subplots and supporting characters over time, such that I didn’t really remember Jim or his role from season one, but he really shines in this season, and it’s clear that the team would benefit from his addition to the group. Given that a subplot of the season is the preparation of a training program for new agents, I’m hopeful that he might become a series regular in any future seasons.

Season two added something new: a very complicated take on race and political issues at the start of the eighties in Atlanta. To put it simply (and vaguely), Holden’s profile might be accurate, but it’s a blunt assessment that isn’t what many in the community would want to hear and only adds to the image of law enforcement turning a blind eye to white supremacists.

I found the second season fascinating and would continue to recommend this show.