When The Matrix first came out in 1999, it’s not a hyperbole to say that it revolutionized filmmaking techniques. From Bullet Time, to the Agents’ afterimages while they dodged, to the insanely destructive lobby shootout. Movies and games were ripping off the movie for years (and decades) later. With Neo seemingly dying in The Matrix Revolutions, it seemed like the Matrix series was over and done with. Well, thanks to The Matrix Resurrections, it’s no longer true.
There have been efforts to restart (or at least) keep the series on life support in the absence of a film entry. There was the Matrix Online, an MMORPG (which saw Morpheus dying) which (at the time) had the blessings of the Wachowski brothers, and was supposed to be canon.
Well…the game didn’t really turn out that well.
So, the next inevitable question is…how does The Matrix Resurrections fare?
What is The Matrix Resurrections?
The Matrix Resurrections is the fourth entry in the Matrix film series. It stars a couple of original trilogy alumni, such as Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss. It’s directed by Lana (formerly Larry) Wachowski, one of the original directors of the original trilogy, with a script written by David Mitchel, Aleksandar Hemon and Lana Wachowski.
The movie is out now in cinemas and on streaming service HBO Max, with a 2 hours 28 minutes runtime.
Here’s a partial list of the cast from IMDB. A word of warning though, some of them are spoilers.
If you’d rather not see who stars as what, just skip ahead.
The Matrix Resurrections takes place after The Matrix Revolutions. Quite how long, I’ll leave for you to discover when you watch the movie, but suffice to say, it’s much longer than you’d expect.
The peace between the machines and humans that Neo tried to broker? Didn’t last. All it did was open the ‘eyes’ of some machines into siding with the humans, which allowed them to found a new human/machine city to replace Zion called Io.
Neo, reborn again as Thomas Anderson (his original identity in the Matrix) now works as a world famous video games developer. In a wink to viewers, Neo’s made the events of the original trilogy into a video game series. Everything that happened in them is real in the world of the Matrix, it’s just in the form of a game.
When Neo is freed from the Matrix, he’s brought back to Io. There Neo’s shown how things have changed since he ‘died’. The humans and the machines that side with them co-exist, even being able to grow their own fruit. Neo’s return however brings uncertainty, especially when he requests for help to go up against the machines to rescue Trinity.
Being brutally honest, the first half of the movie alternated from being draggy as hell, to being ‘Oooooooooooh! So that’s what happened after’. It’s equal parts exposition and lore building (which is great) and equal parts in-your-face symbolism, trying to evoke memories of the original movie (complete with flashbacks of the original scenes) to gel it with this one.
At times, it works brilliantly.
You see throwbacks to the old movies. You see homages in the new one. You see old characters given new life in unexpected ways. You see some familiar camera angles, hear dialogue from past movies. The meta references about the Matrix games are sly and pretty well done.
I have to admit; some of the twists are pretty damn cool.
Unfortunately, not everything hits the right beats.
At times…it feels like you’re being forced fed nostalgia. It’s times like this (when things are especially overt and in your face) that the movie feels more like setup to future entries than its own unique beast.
Then there are the huge questions about the lore that the movie doesn’t want to answer.
Whatever happened to the original Morpheus? Where’s Seraph? How the hell did Smith survive the purge at the end of The Matrix Revolutions? What’s the current status of the war? How does Morpheus II access the backdoors of the Matrix without keys from the Keymaker? Why are Neo’s powers neutered?
Don’t even let me get started about Trinity. The movie never really explains her survival, or a couple other things that’ll be evident when you finish watching the movie.
Basically, it sort of pisses on the established canon of the movies before this one. Some of the things in the movie directly contradict what the Architect told Neo in The Matrix Reloaded. It’s especially galling considering that Lana Wachowskis was one of the people behind the old movies.
How hard is it to keep things straight when you literally created the whole damn trilogy?
I actually like that the movie attempts to flesh out the background crew members on the Mnemosyne. I definitely prefer them (I love Cybebe!) more than I ever did Tank or Dozer from the Nebuchadnezzar. Too bad the movie didn’t really give them a chance to shine or tell their stories. Even in scenes involving them, the focus is always on Neo with the others getting a couple of throwaway lines.
Bugs (one of the new main characters) is pretty interesting too but even she gets relegated to the background after she rescues Neo. I’d love to know more about her, but nope, the movie think we should be knowing more about Neo and Trinity instead.
Weirdly, for one of the best action movies series, there’s a distinct lack of action in this one. Apart from some cool bits (like the train scene seen in the trailers), the fights in the movie are few and rarely last long enough to sate the appetite.
Even then, the fisticuffs seem to be slowed down by a lot.
A great example, Neo’s brawl with Smith looks like it was shot in slow motion. It was painful to watch, especially as clips of Neo’s battle in the subway with Agent Smith (from The Matrix) were spliced in to play on the similarities.
Whereas that fight was all rapid fire punches and kicks, the new one is full of sluggish punches and tepid blows.
Sure the destruction looks nice, but the moves aren’t convincing (or cool) at all.
Even the ending was anti-climatic.
You get a blink and you’ll miss it shootout, a chase sequence (with some cool power usage by Neo) that finishes with a rooftop set piece that falls flat. There’s no buildup, no intensity, which in turn makes the dramatic reveal ho-hum instead of a jaw dropping moment.
The Bottom Line.
The Matrix Resurrections attempts to tug on nostalgia to help its cause but it sadly miscalculates.
While that works sometimes, it still can’t cover the fact that the rest of a movie is a mess. For everything good about it, there’s something equally bad. It’s a shame because I really wanted to like the film.
In the end, it’s hard to recommend it to anybody but hardcore fans.
It’s at times completely for the hardcore while at times pandering to the lowest common denominator. It’s a movie with an identity crisis; trying to please hardcore fans, entice new ones to the fold while trying to set up future entries.
In juggling everything, it does nothing quite right.
A decent sequel but too many unanswered questions and too little action derails it.
- Answers some questions of what happened after the original trilogy.
- Seeing characters from the original trilogy in the new movie.
- Art design still cool.
- Weak ending
- Plot holes
- Disappointing fight scenes