2021 marks a resurgence for many franchises, but like many, they aren’t quite as brilliant as before. The same can be said for The Matrix Resurrections, the welcome sequel to the iconic 1999 sci-fi action masterpiece. Like the original, it takes place in a dystopian future where humanity is confined to a simulated alternate reality, known as the Matrix, where machines use human bodies as an energy source. But this time, there are many twists and turns, surprises and detours that prevent it from feeling like a total rehash. The new film, directed by Lana Wachowski (missing her sibling collaborator Lilly Wachowski), rehashes a lot of the same elements that made the first one an instant classic and cultural phenomenon. But despite the great pleasure of seeing many of the familiar returning characters with some nifty new ones as well, the action sequences, exposition, and philosophical ideas don’t feel as fresh or brilliant as before, and much of the execution is very similar to the original. But it’s not to say the relaunch and fourth continuation of the originals is a total disappointment, there are many satisfying moments to be found, making the end product flawed with many hits and misses.
It was inevitable that there would have been a new Matrix film at some point, considering how the last one ended on a very disappointing note, even with an uproarious climatic showdown between Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) and Neo (Keanu Reeves) in the final event of The Matrix Revolutions. And the fourth installment, The Matrix Resurrections, fails to achieve some of the films’ mind-blowing action, although it does include an impressively mounted final scene, but it’s the films’ clever opening act that involves meta layers of a reality within The Matrix that prevents it from a stale return. Also, the reunion of ardent lovers Neo (Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie Anne-Moss) is deeply affecting and easily some of the strongest character work in the franchise, and perhaps Lana Wachowski’s most moving character moments in her impressive career.
Many concerns have hovered over The Matrix Resurrections ever since its production days. Could Lana Wachowski launch another successful film starring 57-year-old Keanu Reeves and 54-year-old Carrie-Ann-Moss still climbing back into their leather jackets, wearing sunglasses, shooting automatic weapons, and cruising while defying gravity with impressive martial arts moves? Could the new film still measure up to the spectacular action and effects that were so towering in the original? Could Lana Wachowski helm this project without her sister Lilly? Will audiences still be in awe of this franchise nearly 20 years later?
The answer to the first question is yes, and the film certainly has enough scope. The technique and tone match the originals. Despite some of the action and aesthetics falling short, the film still has the feel and tone of a Matrix film. The film triumphs mostly with its drama, and there are a few solid set-pieces, but it does not come close to being as breathtaking and game-changing as the action that was on display in the original. Even The Matrix Reloaded offered an endless number of jaw-dropping action sequences that the new one doesn’t quite achieve. Lana’s strongest merits in the film, however, are in the character depth, which is handled with great delicacy and genuine emotion.
Lana Wachowski co-wrote the script with authors David Mitchell (who wrote the novel Cloud Atlas) and Aleksandar Hemon, cleverly filling in the gaps of the story thread of Matrix Revolutions where the final lines of the saga were the character Sati asking, “Will we ever see [Neo] again?”, to which the Oracle responds, “I suspect so. Someday,” In which Neo was awakened from the pseudo “reality” of the Matrix and who was instrumental in acting as a prophet or messiah in the Matrix Trilogy, when sentinel robots were exploiting humanity for an energy control grid.
If you recall, The Matrix Revolutions (2003) ended with Neo being carried away by machines after an epic battle with Agent Smith, and Trinity died in Neo’s arms once her hovercraft crashed. Both of these characters made a great sacrifice in ending the war between the machines and humanity. It was a triumph of reality over virtual reality, where humanity triumphed over machines. Or did it? Lana Wachowski goes even further deep into the rabbit hole with The Matrix Resurrections.
The Matrix Saga continues 20 years after the events of Matrix Revolutions, with Reeves reprising his role as Thomas Anderson, living in San Francisco, who’s now a video game creator of a popular video game. Thomas is also in a clean state and is oblivious to previous events, despite having a lot of déjà vu and some fragmented memories of previous events. These opening scenes involving Thomas working on a new video game unfold with a lot of amusing and equally clever meta nods and homages to the original trilogy. Feeling isolated and even psychotic, Thomas sees a psychologist named The Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris), who persuades Thomas that everything he’s thinking about involving his memories of Neo and The Matrix is just a projection of his own creativity. Yet Thomas is still searching for something deeper, as something doesn’t seem right. In many aspects, the film is rehashing some of the same themes that were found in the original, but it works in just how meta and self-aware it is.
Thomas ends up questioning his reality more after he encounters a suburban mom named Tiffany (Carrie-Anne Moss) at a local coffee cafe. They shake hands and instantly feel an instant connection. Tiffany asks, “Have we met?”, and of course we know Tiffany is Trinity and Thomas is Neo. Without revealing too much, Neo and Trinity are trapped back in the Matrix and are in a reality within another reality that they originally liberated themselves from.
Meet Bugs (Jessica Henwick): a blue-haired gunslinger who’s like a young trinity with a White Rabbit tattoo who is sent from the city of Zion to track down Neo and free him once again from his mundane existence. She ends up joining forces with an alternative version of Morpheus (this time played by Yaha Abudl-Mateen) who also believes in Thomas/Neo, and he wants to pull him back into the actual reality by once again offering him a red pill. Other returning characters involve the return of Zion warrior Niobe (Jada Pinkett-Smith), who’s a general now and has aged decades older than Neo and Trinity.
The Matrix Resurrections ends up suffering from expository overload because it’s really talky with endless exposition where many loose ends are covered about what happened to Neo and Trinity. We also get plenty of action sequences, martial arts combat sequences, and shootouts where characters are still running up walls to dodge bullets. While entertaining, the action in The Matrix feels looser, rushed, and not as grounded as the action in the previous endeavors. When we return to Zion in the middle section of the film, the film loses some dramatic momentum, but the third act and climax of the film, along with the first half, is where the film works. The end result is a very hit-or-miss experience that is still an improvement from Matrix Revolutions.
After becoming a beloved internet sensation due to reports of being just a standup and courteous person, it’s really great to see Reeves back in form in one of his iconic roles. He looks great (wearing more modern and casual attire this time than leather), delivers a very contemplative performance with the same philosophical questions and retorts with the same charisma and arc as before, and in some ways feels like he’s an aging star trying to reprise a role for a paycheck. The same can be said about Carrie-Anne Moss, who hasn’t lost her chutzpah and grit from her Trinity character. Most importantly, the chemistry and romance between Neo and Trinity resonate with some moving and sincere emotions that bring them closer to the viewer.
Jessica Henwick (from Game of Thrones and who was splendid in Sofia Coppola’s On the Rocks) proves a worthy adversary, as a younger thespian who’s also augmented between the two worlds. This is a great actress in the making who certainly pulls every bit of skill and honesty into her performance. She brings just enough rigidity and intelligence to the role of a young woman attempting to once again awaken Thomas Anderson from the Matrix in very challenging situations. Some of the other casting is questionable, Jonathan Groff returns as Agent Smith, and while a skillful actor, he just doesn’t have the calculated menace of Hugo Weaving, who is certainly hard to replace.
In many aspects, The Matrix Resurrections is somewhat of an anti-sequel, as Lana Wachowski rehashes some of the same material but takes it to different terrain that does, in fact, eventually defy some expectations. There is certainly enough passion, soul, and vision in the film to prevent it from feeling like a typical retread. While some fan service is to be found, it feels earned, as it does in Spider-Man: No Way Home. If only the new film had just slightly more skill in the intermittently entertaining action sequences, it probably would have left a great impact like the original Matrix did. In the end, The Matrix Resurrections is a close-but-no cigar type of experience that certainly delivers some goods, but just doesn’t fully deliver on its full potential.
I will watch it this weekend. It’s the only big release I will be able to see and won’t have to wait for, do this Omnicron flair up. I want to say some really nasty things but I will refrain from doing so on this comment. I will end on a positive by saying “ I’m actually interested and looking forward to seeing this movie. “
Robert, whenever someone I know sees a sequel my questions to them is always the same “Should the movie have been made? Does it add to the legacy of the movies, be it one movie or as in this case a trilogy or has it, even a little, tarnished the legacy?” Those are my questions to you. Has Matrix: Resurrections made the trilogy better or does it harm perhaps the greatest trilogy ever!
I really enjoyed the new matrix quite a bit. It felt like what Tron Legacy was to Tron, but for the Matrix. Also, that Hawkeye finale! Whoa!
20 min into the matrix and I have no idea what’s going on lol
I’ve been waiting to read this!
I watched 1 hour and 47 minutes of Matrix Resurrections before turning it off.
The Matrix Resurrections. Hmmm, well if your expecting to be like the first one or at least the last two, it’s not. It was ok. I’m not saying the film is not worthy of watching by no means. No! It just a film you won’t see again. It had great ideas about new things added and twist to the story, but action sequences fell flat. I guess the director couldn’t top the first two so she scaled back. So, If you have HBO Max sit and relax or hit your local theater. Like I said it’s on the level of….ok.
The film was ok. It has great ideas and a good twist, but after seeing it I felt it could of been more. Action sequences was something I seen before and just didn’t land at all. In my opinion the don’t have high expectations of an epic. Just go see it.
Also, I felt somewhat the same. It was ok, but no way on the level of the trilogy. I have to say this, but Revolutions was a bit better.
The action sequences were so jarring and didn’t look cool. And then they made neo a Jedi instead of a wicked kung Fu badass. There was nothing unique and matrix was always that ground breaking special effects movie, even the sequels tried to be. This was just awful
So many disappointing reviews on this…did they simply run out of imagination? Going to try to see it soon.
I’m going to love when people say this film is woke. Did they not see the original? It’s the original woke movie.
It is true there are many rehashments from the original, and there also many new twists and turns that help keep it from being a retread. And in the grand scope of the franchise it is probably the least strong installment. However, I didn’t mind the rehasments. My reason is I lost my best friend this year, and I remember seeing the original 8 times with at the theater back when we were in college, and this movie brought back all of those cherished memories I’ll take with me until I leave this earth. May the lord bless my friend Barron and Neo and Trinity.
I loved it. Its not for casual thinkers or ppl who don’t even understand what they are even talking about. If you didn’t understand the first one nothing makes since to in the matrix realm.
Ok maybe I’m crazy but I loved this. As a huge fan of the original I went in with no expectations and man was it entertaining. I mean it’s not “good” but it sure is fun.
My favorite Matrix I’ve read.
‘I walked out of this movie. And I was on a plane.”
Im convinced people are incapable of liking a new movie. Did it have the same feeling as the original trilogy? No but it was worth the watch to see where the franchise will or can go next.
Against all odds, I actually really, really liked the new Matrix movie
When I was 14, The Matrix came out. When I was finally able to watch it, it changed my entire life. I watched the movie over 50 times in one year. I was obsessed. I decided to go to college for film and philosophy because of this movie. The Matrix is my Star Wars.
I watched The Matrix Resurrections on Christmas. I had low expectations, or tried to have no expectations since I had avoided all trailers and media. But I was not a big fan of the sequels (that’s a bit of an understatement. I hated on those sequels more than they deserved. Those sequels are entertaining). Reloaded and Revolutions ended my obsession with the franchise. So, all I wanted was for Resurrections to be better.
I love The Matrix Resurrections. It all works for me.
Where they left off in Revolutions, Neo was a god. He had lost a lot of his humanity (well, he had a terrible love story with Trinity in those two sequels). He was all powerful and love was his only glimpse of humanity.
In Resurrections, Lana Wachowski found a way to bring Neo’s vulnerability back. I straight up love the meta video game plot because it grounds Neo back in the world of Thomas Anderson, the world where he does fail. It’s a world where once again he is lost, where he has denied his true nature and his true love – Trinity.
And then we have the therapy. I love this. Neo feels that his life is missing something, but he can’t quite put his finger on what it is especially because they world makes it seem so natural to be where his is and no longer desire something else. The world does not want him to express his true nature.
People come into his life and help him, because they believe that his power is in being his authentic self. These people see the real Neo.
The ownership of these trans identity issues in this new sequel really worked for me. It helps me understand the journey of the filmmakers who changed my life.
And I dug the love story. Keanu Reeves and Carrie Ann Moss have never had much chemistry on screen, but in this movie, I bought it. I bought it more because Trinity kind of becomes Neo. She doesn’t technically, they are still two different people, but their love kind of makes them one.
Trinity gets the powers that Neo has and takes on some of his roles (like saving them from the fall). She’s the one to pull him into his true reality – the love self and the love of each other.
Sure, there is a lot of fan service in the movie, and I am a fan.
But there are also new discoveries in the retread.
There’s enough cool ideas, self referential jokes, and decent action to satisfy me.
It’s not the masterpiece that the first movie is, but it’s the best Matrix sequel. And I’m happy about that.