Director: Lana Wachowski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jessica Henwick, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Jada Pinkett Smith
Written by: Lana Wachowski, David Mitchell, Aleksandar Hemon and (based on the characters created) The Wachowski.
Running Time: 148 mins
Release date: 22nd December 2021
The 1999 science fiction adventure The Matrix was a game-changer of a movie. Its spectacular effects and breathtaking action sequences made other films of this genre look insignificant. It also had a plot that was impossible to understand but clear enough to allow some form of enjoyment among the chaos of the full-on fight scenes. A few years later, we got two sequels, Reloaded and Revolutions, which took the story into the realms of confusion and alienated many who loved the first film. Now, over twenty years later, we get The Matrix Resurrections, which hopefully will put the memory of the previous sequels to one side and continue the excellent work set out in the first film. Sadly, what starts off promisingly, just delivers more of the same without the jaw-dropping effects.
Thomas Anderson has been living a life with memories of a world that doesn’t exist, having regular sessions with a therapist. His ordinary world consists of creating a computer game called The Matrix and two other successful sequels. Now the production company want a fourth, which triggers Thomas’s anxieties, only to discover that he has to return to that world as Neo and try to find his partner, Trinity.
The film starts off with plenty of opportunities to explore a new realm of The Matrix. Working out how to make a character return in a way that seems believable was co-writer and director Lana Wachowski’s first problem, and this is handled well. Tell the audience that The Matrix was a game and that Thomas Anderson created it. Simple enough. However, this is soon dismissed, and we are back in the confusing inner world of The Matrix, where robotic creatures roam the land, where humans are plugged into the system and where not everyone is who they seem.
As the film enters the second act, you get a sense of de javu. We’ve been here before in the sequels, and it wasn’t a fun experience. Instead, we are back to a land where the plot is contrived and convoluted. The trouble with the sequels was that the Wachowski’s tried too hard, wanting to push the audience’s intellect. Unfortunately, the audience didn’t want to go there. All they wanted was a big, loud blockbuster. The same can be applied here. Once we are out of the “real world”, whatever that may be, you need to have things explained to you. Fear not. The film is crammed with plot exposition, yet you still don’t care.
When the film starts, it’s about a troubled soul who has managed to escape the nightmares of his past but finds himself dragged back into it by a big corporation (one of the few moments of humour as the company who want a fourth Matrix is Warner Bros, the company behind the films). In fact, it has the same qualities as Wes Craven’s New Nightmares, where the cast and crew of A Nightmare on Elm Street find themselves drawn into the film series and terrorised by their own creation. Where Craven’s film succeeded was that he made it enjoyable.
Lana Wachowski’s film may look impressive but lacks any real heart. There is a love story running as a subplot, as Neo is desperate to do anything to find Trinity, but this plays out among the fake philosophies and extended explanation of the plot, interrupted by a few set pieces. These, alas, are no longer as impressive as the ones from the first film. It’s sometimes hard to see who is punching as the camera jiggles around and the lighting suddenly goes dim, and the effects are not up to the standard of the first film. Things have moved on since those early days, and you crave something as unique as bullet time, but it never comes.
If there is a plus, it’s seeing Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss back on the screen together. As Neo and Trinity, the sole survivors of the first film (no Laurence Fishburne except in flashbacks), they do have great chemistry, with Reeves back to being as laid back as a man can be while Moss, who isn’t given too much to do, still manages to hold the attention. The rest of the cast is fine with Neil Patrick Harris making an impression as the therapist.
To say that The Matrix Resurrection is a disappointment doesn’t surprise me. You would have hoped that all the mistakes from the previous sequels had been fixed. However, you find yourself caring little for anyone, and you find yourself checking your watch. After all these years, you hoped for a film to equal the original. While it’s a slight improvement on the sequels, that is really faint praise indeed.
2 out of 5