“Why use old code to do something new?”
“Maybe this isn’t the story we think it is.”

Extremely self-referential sequel in which Neo is a game developer whose history of reality breakdowns resurfaces when he’s asked to revisit his most famous property, The Matrix. “Our beloved parent company Warner Bros has decided to make a sequel to the trilogy – they’re gonna do it with or without us.”

Lots of reality fakeouts and good in-jokes (psychiatrist Neil Patrick Harris’s cat is named Deja Vu). There’s bullet-time action and Inception space-bending, but also a bleary slow-mo effect in the action scenes, which is sorta not as cool. I miss the 35mm grain, but this has a curious look – a hyperreal digital cleanness I’ve never seen on this scale, like if Michael Mann made an Avengers movie. An explicitly nonbinary story (Dev Neo’s cancelled game was to be called BINARY) – the future is against the “red pill” choices of one thing or another, and more into blends. It’s also more generous in spirit, not only literally resurrecting the two lead characters, but refusing to kill off good guys, while previous movies would introduce a new crew then slaughter them all.

The straight world sees Neo as an eyepatched dude (played by Carrie-Anne Moss’s husband):

Agent Smith is sorta Neo’s boss and sorta also Morpheus, I dunno, I was having too much fun to sweat all the details. The Franco-looking boss is actually Jonathan Groff (the king in Hamilton), New Morpheus is Yahya Abdul-Mateen (New Candyman), New Punk Hacker Girl is Jessica Henwick (final survivor of Underwater). Ancient Jada Pinkett is in charge of humanity, and Junkyard Lambert Wilson has become a raving Gilliam vagrant.

Full of great twists that I’m about to give away. Soon after Ben Affleck’s wife disappears, and he’s sad and hanging out with his sympathetic sister (Carrie Coon of HBO show The Leftovers, also about disappearing people) and doing press, and the cops are slightly suspicious that Ben might be a murderer, Ben’s secret girlfriend shows up, turning the tables on his perfect husband image. Then after things start getting worse for Ben amd his sister is mortgaging the house to pay for celebrity lawyer Tyler Perry, the movie reveals wife Rosamund Pike (The World’s End), alive and well and plotting to frame him as a murderer as revenge for the secret girlfriend. Rosamund grew up the subject of her parents’ series of children’s books (Amazing Amy) and is not gonna settle for a less-than-amazing husband. She’s also not very street-smart, and soon loses all her money to thieving motel neighbors, and instead of heating up her plan to commit suicide and have her body’s discovery be the final nail in Ben’s coffin, she hides out with super-rich ex-boyfriend Neil Patrick Harris, then decides to claim the whole thing was an abduction, murders Neil and returns covered in blood to perfect husband Ben. Somehow it managed to outdo itself in the last couple minutes with the creepiest ending possible.

Novel/screenplay by Gillian Flynn. Fincher has kept the efficient snappy editing to the rhythm of dialogue from The Social Network. Who’d have thought circa 2004 that I’d end up liking Ben Affleck so much? Was going to quote from the Fincher interview in Film Comment but it’s all too good, can’t decide which bit is best.

DCairns: “Like a 40s women’s picture, the movie evokes a pleasurable response of condemnation mixed with admiration. The woman is bad, and we should want to see her punished, but she’s also very impressive, and we find ourselves rooting for her. At a certain point in the story, we are rooting for both man and wife — maybe this is what Fincher means by calling it a perfect date movie.” I certainly wonder what Katy would’ve thought, and what conversation would’ve ensued had we watched it together. Maybe someday she’ll have a semester off and we’ll run a week marathon of long movies I wish she’d seen with me: Gone Girl, Interstellar, Margaret