THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS Review; "A Wholly Unnecessary Epilogue Retreads Old Ground, Delivers Mediocre Action"

The Matrix Resurrections is now playing in theaters and on HBO Max, but the blue bill is definitely a better option than sitting through this mess of a movie. Be warned, some minor spoilers follow...

Reviews Opinion

The Matrix broke new ground when it was released in 1999, and while the sequels expanded on those ideas to create an entire mythology, they never quite managed to live up to their predecessor. If you made it that far, though, chances are you were fully invested in Neo's story and the trilogy certainly wrapped up in an epic, exciting (if somewhat confounding) way. It's no wonder, then, that there's been so much excitement surrounding The Matrix Resurrections, and in a year that's been full of nostalgia - just look at Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Spider-Man: No Way Home - now feels like the right time to revisit this world. It's just a shame that this epilogue is not only wholly unnecessary, but also a bad movie. 

Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is back in the Matrix and stuck in the life of an unhappy video game developer tasked with creating a follow-up to his hit trilogy: The Matrix. The movie is at its worst when it attempts to get too meta or clever for its own good, and just painfully embarrassing when director and writer Lana Wachowski (David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon also receive writing credits) tries to deliver social commentary on today's world. Someone in their 50s showing how they think Millennials talk and act is as cringeworthy as you might expect, and the movie manages to emphasise that with an embarrassing post-credits scene. Back to the story, though, and Neo once again needs to escape into the real world, rescuing the woman he's been pining after inside the Matrix for decades: Carrie-Anne Moss' Tiffany. The love story at the centre of The Matrix Resurrections works well, as do a few exposition dumps that do a relatively good job of trying to justify this movie's existence while building on the franchise's aforementioned mythology. 

The main issue is that nothing happening here really needs to. There was once talk of The Matrix franchise being rebooted, and you have to believe that was an infinitely better alternative than Resurrections. Making a sequel shouldn't have been that hard, but this story never feels earned and, if anything, is more akin to a 150-minute post-credit scene to The Matrix Revolutions tacked on to send fans home happy. Chances are they won't be, though, because the inventiveness and originality from that first effort is nowhere to be found. Not helping matters is the fact that the action scenes that were once so groundbreaking and cool now feel underwhelming when compared to what we're used to seeing from both major superhero blockbusters and even action franchises like John Wick. Wachowski bringing nothing new to the table in that respect is a disappointment, and by the time the credits roll, you'll be wondering why she felt the need to forcibly bring these characters back while overhauling others in ways that feel like the original actors read the script and responded, "Thanks, but no thanks."

Moss is given a mostly thankless role for most of the movie, but does get the chance to shine on a handful of badass occasions. Reeves is very good, but seems about as excited to go through this same old sh*t again as poor old Thomas Anderson. Together, the chemistry these actors shared in the original trilogy is clear to see, and it's never anything less than enjoyable spending time with them. The decision to bring "Morpheus" back proves hit-and-miss and feels like little more than an excuse to cast one of the most talented actors working today in Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. He deserved a better role than this, but does what he can with it. Similarly underwhelming is the decision to have Jonathan Groff play "Smith." Hugo Weaving he ain't, and attempts to recapture the magic of Neo and Agent Smith's war fall flat, particularly during an underwhelming battle that appears to take place in a dilapidated men's toilet. Jessica Henwick is on fine form as Bugs, but when she's saddled with dialogue like "What's up, Doc?" it's fair to say we never get the actress at her best. Neil Patrick Harris is okay, while returning characters from the franchise's past...well, the less said about most of them, the better. 

There are some who might watch The Matrix Resurrections and believe it to be some sort of grand magnum opus that delivers a scorching social commentary and brings these characters into the modern world in a way that is somehow thought-provoking or inspired. Those people would be wrong.

Ultimately, this movie adds nothing of value to the franchise and ironically feels like the studio mandated sequel Thomas is so quick to baulk at early in the movie. The story of "The One" ended, for better or worse, in The Matrix Revolutions. Dragging Neo, Trinity, Morpheus, and Smith back into the Matrix for one more adventure results in a blockbuster that has little of any substance to say, action scenes that won't register, and a retreading of old ground that literally sees clips from the previous movies play out on screen on multiple occasions. Visually, the movie is a bore, with uninspired locations and none of the mind-bending ideas still referenced to this day (prepare to have Bullet Time forever ruined for you). The central love story is compelling and there are some interesting ideas that could have been expanded on in bold, exciting ways, particularly in the real-world. Unfortunately, the movie instead delivers a bunch of jumbled ideas that prove there really must be a glitch in the Matrix. 

A wholly unnecessary epilogue to The Matrix trilogy, Resurrections retreads old ground, delivers mediocre action, and proves itself a tough pill to swallow despite a decent enough love story that, alone, isn't enough to justify revisiting this franchise. Time for a reboot.


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