The Wachowskis seem to have a huge disdain for the mainstream Hollywood system of doing movies so they made a career out of avant-garde films with limitless budgets that are afforded to them due to the success of The Matrix. Doing a Matrix revival seems like a complete dissonance from that career path, a danger that this late-Matrix sequel will just be another in a long line of nostalgia-baiting sequel films with similar plot beats from the original movie it is homaging from. Lana Wachowski split the difference by making an avant-garde film that is also a nostalgia-baiting sequel film with similar plot beats from the original movie it is homaging from - Matrix Resurrections is really meta.
Like a plot where Neo is introduced as a game designer who made a financially successful game trilogy where the original game called, The Matrix, is haled as a genre-defining masterpiece and he is now going back to make another sequel, type of meta. But even when that aspect of the plot ended, the meta never stopped, it just became less upfront about it.
We gather all the meta we can find between the digital codes of the movie and place it all here to see how deep the rabbit goes.
Neo is Not So Secretly Lana Wachowski
The term Mary Sue is always being thrown around these days for the main character in stories that are an obvious writer's surrogate and are usually overpowered characters with high popularity within the story's universe - welcome to the most literal definition of the word with The Matrix Resurrection's interpretation of Neo -the avatar of Lana Wachowski struggling what every creative artist experience trying to work within a corporate system.
When we first see Neo in The Matrix Resurrections, he is Thomas Anderson. like Lana Wachowski, Thomas Anderson is considered one the greatest in his artistic field due to the critical and mainstream popularity of a project called, The Matrix, and the two financially successful sequels grouped collectively as The Matrix Trilogy. Like Lana Wachowski, Thomas Anderson also tried to commit suicide at some point and transferred all that creative energy building in his life and converted it into narrative stories. Like Lana Wachowski, Thomas Anderson has done other projects since, and whatever project he has now, it has to be put by the sidelines because Warner Brothers is demanding a new Matrix and they said it will be done regardless of his involvement or not.
So when Thomas Anderson realizes that he is actually Neo and took the red pill, she already made the choice - Lana is going back to where it all started.
It is Not So Secretly About the Pressures of Making a New Matrix Movie
When Neo as a Videogame developer Thomas Anderson heard that he is tasked with making a new Matrix videogame, the existential trauma he already had went up to 11. On the surface it is Neo having the most confusing PTSD ever, not knowing that the war he thinks he only created is a real experience he had. In a meta sense, Lana Wachowski is having an existential crisis that she is tasked again to make a new Matrix movie as if she is on a loop in her life like Thomas Anderson is on a treadmill.
The challenge of I.P. addicted modern Hollywood, as talked about in 7 Ways The Matrix Resurrections Gives The Middle Finger To Hollywood’s IP Addiction, is that every movie (or video game) is just a platform to sell nostalgia. The Matrix Resurrections is under a lot of pressure to build upon the original genre-defining movie. How can anyone do that when the keyword associated with the brand is "originality" and "fresh." Within The Matrix Resurrections, as the game designers are brainstorming on ideas for a new Matrix mov--videogame, everybody has their own opinion of how to approach the new videogame - It should eff with the head as people want it up in their grey space. It should have guns, lots of guns because Matrix is mayhem, but also mindless action is not on-brand. As philosophy porn, it should be about a lot of things - trans-politics, crypto-fascism, capitalist exploitation. It cannot be just another reboot but also reboots sell. Should there be a new bullet time? Does it need to revolutionize the game again?... No pressure there, Lana.
The Matrix Virtual World Reboot is The Matrix Movie Reboot
We learned in this movie that after the long peace between humans and machines, the machines are imprisoning humans again in a virtual world to get power out of them. The rebooted Matrix virtual world in this instance is the new Matrix movie. Because the machines in this movie are also the Hollywood machine, being run by the big wigs called, "The Suits," and they want that sweet, sweet box office energy.
The New Matrix Reboot is a Nostalgia Machine
A long time ago The Matrix movie raged against the machine, but the new Matrix movie is the machine we have to rage at - a part of the system used by Hollywood to imprison us with nostalgia. This is why the virtual world of the Matrix is also the stand-in for the new Matrix movie. This is why the legacy of The Matrix as a story is in the Matrix virtual world. As Bugs said they took Neo's story and turned it into something trivial. In her words, what the machines have done is weaponize every idea, every dream, and everything that is important to us.
What's great about nostalgia is zero resistance. We will stay in our pods happier than pigs. The worse they treat us, the more box office energy we produce - The capitalist idea of the original Matrix converted to the Hollywood system. We are left in a world of mediocrity with no risks of chances.
Did the Original Matrix Trilogy Still Matter if it Can Simply Be Rebooted?
Neo at one point in the movie contemplates what did he and his friends fought for if everything just started over again. The question is a meta-commentary on how reboots make the original movies it is homaging feels so much smaller or meaningless. After all, Neo does not think he changed anything - The Matrix is either the same or worse, and he is back where he started. It feels like everything he did, everything they did, none of it mattered.
Bugs' response to this is that all of it mattered, that while it does not seem like it, he changed everything. Then he proceeds to show Neo that what he changed is that some of the machines or synthetics like Cybebe, Octacles, Lumin8, and Kujaju, are all working together with the humans. Then later, Niobe showed the innovations brought possible only by the humans and machines working together.
If the machines represent the corporate system of Hollywood, and rebel humans represent the freedom of choice outside the system, then what The Matrix Trilogy made possible is the huge compromise between artistic freedom and the corporate system in Hollywood Blockbusters the likes of which unheard of before. While The Matrix Resurrections is built on corporate foundations, what saves it, and what saves the franchise hereafter is that steady compromise. Maybe there is a chance for real peace between the artist and corporation in the near future.
Resurrecting Neo and Trinity is About Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss Still Headlining the New Matrix Reboot
In The Matrix Trilogy, Neo and Trinity died for what we thought was the end of their story. But The Matrix Resurrections reveal that The Analyst revives them so he can use them to power the new Matrix. What is actually saying is that Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are returning for the new movie to ensure its success when everyone else from the previous movies has been purged. As The Analyst said, it took The Suits some convincing, and they are crazy expensive, like renovating a house but it is too much of an extraordinary opportunity to pass by. Alone, neither Keanu nor Carrie has any particular value, but together they are something special.
The Analyst said that the previous Matrix was about precision, fussy facts, and equations, while the new Matrix movie is about emotions. While this is also part of the nostalgia metaphor, it is also an admittance that the new movie is a love story about Neo and Trinity. For the franchise to continue they are destined to never die, or never get old, or never have a happy ending. They must always need to be close together but never too close. The characters' endings have been perverted to quietly yearn for what they don't have while dreading losing what they do have. Just give the people what they want, right?
Neo Trying to Get His Mojo Back is About The Matrix Franchise Trying Get Its Mojo Back
When the Wachowski Siblings were younger, they injected The Matrix with angry teenage energy and emotions fueled by vague gestures of revolution and burning down the system. Because Lana Wachowski has matured a lot since then, The Matrix Resurrections is about Neo trying to prove to the newer cast of characters that he still knows kung-fu, with a running gag of the characters asking if he can still fly. Translation: The Matrix Resurrections, between all the codes and philosophy, is about Generation X and elder Millenials like Lana Wachowski entering middle age and trying to prove to her younger peers that the old can still run, fight and look good doing it while struggling to assure herself that all that she did in her heyday wasn't all for nothing. Because Lana and Neo are the faces of The Matrix, it is also about The Matrix franchise entering middle age and trying to prove that the old can still run, fight and look good doing it while struggling to assure itself that all its stories in its heyday weren't all for nothing.
The New Architect of The Matrix is the New Architect of the New Matrix Movie
The Analyst is the new architect of the new Matrix or the architect of the new Matrix movie. He is the strawman for every Hollywood producer who wants to milk a popular intellectual property for all its worth. He is the one who decided to put Neo and Trinity back into the story. He is the one who uses nostalgia and emotional manipulation to the masses. He is also under a lot of pressure to boost productivity or answer to The Suits. The main villain in the franchise is an evil Kevin Feige.
Bugs and the New Generation of Characters are Matrix Fans
Like in the original Matrix Trilogy, Neo has many devoted followers, but since this is a meta version of the older movies, the religious implication has turned into fandom implications. The people in IO who only knew the events of the original Matrix movies through stories are Matrix fans. In most cases, they are hardcore Neo fans. Bugs herself became inspired to find her true purpose when she saw Neo for the first time. Every once in a while, Neo will come across someone in IO who is star-struck by his presence. Maybe Neo is breathtaking or something.
The crew of the Mnemosyne are the biggest fans of all. They will do anything for Neo and will follow him wherever he goes despite only meeting him recently. Berg is even a Neo-ologist, a type of individual who obsessively researches Neo's life. He tries hard not to fanboy over Neo's presence and has a million questions about him. His meticulous research on Neo became integral to finding him. While Lexy admits that all she ever wanted in life is to be as fearless as Trinity, and based her life because she is inspired by the stories of her.
The Ending is About the Artist Triumphing Over Hollywood Blockbuster Mandates
By the end of The Matrix Resurrections, Neo and Trinity have now full control of the Matrix due to the shared powers of being The One. Their dynamic with The Analyst has now shifted. When before the Analyst has full control over them in every meeting, now Neo and Trinity control all the terms. What this implies is that the stars of The Matrix franchise have now full artistic control of The Matrix movies, and can change anything if they will it. Paint the sky with rainbows, why not.
As the meeting with The Analyst goes on, The Analyst monologues about us sheeple not going anywhere. How we like the movies the way it is. How we crave the comfort of certainty as if we only like our Million Dollar blockbuster movies safe and mainstream. He is implying that what really matters is if we accept the ideas in The Matrix movies, if not then The Matrix movies will fail. The Analyst is insulting our artistic tastes. But Neo and Trinity are not discouraged. They are here to remake The Matrix, change a few things. They even like the "Paint the sky with rainbows" idea to remind the people what a free mind can do.
Before they leave, they thank The Analyst, the embodiment of corporate Hollywood, for giving them another chance to make art.
Are there any other meta-commentaries we may have missed?