I respect what Lana Wachowski did with The Matrix Resurrections. She has reminded us that almost every story we tell ourselves (in this era of film) that is about being liberated, bringing change, and envisioning a new world are funded by the people with the money and the power, like Warner Bros. The tools we use to communicate and critique culture are made available to us by Meta, Twitter, Apple, and Google. There’s a tension here.
For this reason, San Francisco was the perfect setting (note that Mayor London Breed, who just announced she’ll be using more police force in San Francisco, cameoed as liberator!). A bastion of progressive politics, a city hated by the right-wing, is not really liberating. It’s just as dominated by power and money as anywhere in the world. It’s just as exploitive of the poor as anywhere. It’s just as much a police state as any other city. We may hear more hopeful, tolerant, kind stories from that part of the world—maybe via Netflix!—but again, ultimately, the stories we’re telling are brought to us by people, institutions, and corporations who must not fear that they’ll cause any real shifts in the status quo, because they’re the status quo. And we’re the status quo.
Am I saying this as if enlightened? No. I typed it on my iPhone. Is my interpretation of Wachowski requesting that we accept Biden-style—no, Pelosi-style—incrementalism? Not really. But I do think this film can be harsh because it undermines our messianism and self-identity. It reminds us that maybe the Matrix is more like a Matryoshka Doll than Plato’s cave. And it argues that we don’t really want revolution because revolution and social overhaul usually come only through violence, through war. As Niobe says to Neo: the only thing as loud as the noise of the Matrix is war. And nobody wants that. So, I’m looking forward to the fifth movie and I’ll probably give Sony, or Disney, or whoever my money when I go watch the new Spider-Man soon.