Neo and Trinity were dead at the end of the last Matrix movie. Most of us assumed that meant no sequels, or at least no sequels involving them. And the Wachowskis themselves said they weren't going to do any more sequels. Despite which, we join "Thomas Anderson" at his programming job where he's world-famous for having written "The Matrix" trilogy of video games, in a movie directed by Lana Wachowski. There's a woman Anderson sees at the local coffee shop that he longs for - the viewers all know that she's Carrie-Anne Moss / Trinity.
The movie is loaded with references right from the start, complete with an opening at "Heart o' the City Motel." Our new action lead "Bugs" (Jessica Henwick) started life wiping down windows on skyscrapers, a direct reference to the first Matrix movie. Neo is referred to as "Mr. Anderson" - particularly by his boss, who has some of the characteristics of Agent Smith. The call-backs are endless, and don't stop after Neo finally figures out who he truly is. A certain amount of quoting can be beneficial: the original Matrix series showed Neo as a very Christ-like figure, but didn't really smash you about the head with it. That was good. This movie uses every possible opportunity to flash back to the previous series - visual references, name dropping, similarities of events. It's a weird combination of nostalgia, referencing/quoting, and self-congratulations.
Without a doubt, Lana Wachowski (who directed and co-wrote) has come up with an impressive number of new - and often quite interesting - ideas about how the Matrix could morph into something different after the events of the original trilogy. I can't fault her for that. And the new actors (Henwick, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as an incarnation of Morpheus, and Groff) give it their all. But Wachowski has come up with something so self-referential, so very meta (and I don't mean the-company-formerly-known-as-Facebook - the word had a meaning before them) that it distracts from the not-particularly-exciting plot. Combine that with action that directly references (in words, spoken out loud by one of the characters) "Bullet Time," while not being nearly as revolutionary as that was in 1999 ... and you've got a really interesting hot mess. Fans of the original series should watch this, non-fans should avoid. And I don't think it's going to have a lot of rewatch value for anyone.