The Matrix Resurrections

The Matrix Resurrections

2021, R, 148 min. Directed by Lana Wachowski. Starring Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Christina Ricci, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra, Lambert Wilson, Jada Pinkett Smith.

REVIEWED By Trace Sauveur, Fri., Dec. 24, 2021

“Will we ever see him again?”

“I suspect so. Someday.”

These lines about a presumably dead Neo (Reeves), spoken between the Oracle and a young Sati at the end of The Matrix Revolutions, always seemed to carry more philosophical than literal meaning. For a series of films with a certain spiritual preoccupation, they never necessarily registered as a glimpse of what the future of the franchise might hold.

Nevertheless, that quote comes to physical fruition in The Matrix Resurrections, a meta and ungainly sequel all about a culture obsessed with taking things back to where they began. Losing one half of the Wachowski duo behind the camera, this Lana solo outing is predicated on the mystery of what exactly happened between entries to find Neo where we do now: as Thomas Anderson at yet another soul-deadening corporate job, this time as a successful game designer. His most successful work? A trilogy of games about heroes Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus who fight off armies of sentinels that have subjugated the human race through a fake reality called The Matrix. Whew boy.

Like déjà vu, Neo’s life unravels as he soon suspects not everything is as it appears. His therapist’s reassurances of progress and casual prescription of blue pills start to feel suffocating. The strange flashes of memories that plague his thoughts start to become more tangible and familiar. He could swear he knows Tiffany (Moss), the woman he sees at the coffee shop Simulatte (har har) every day, as more than just a friendly face during his daily routine. He’s been here before and, in fact, so have we.

Resurrections feels torn between these two identities: a quasi-send-up of belated sequels adhering to demands of clamoring fans, and a surprisingly straightforward (well, by Matrix standards) continuation of a story we haven’t caught up with for 18 years. What begins as a tongue-in-cheek investigation of legacy, iconography, and how something like The Matrix reverberated through popular culture soon has to try and contend with being a sincere continuation of a revolutionary action trilogy. For as fun and surprising as it is with just how hard it leans into the self-aware antics, when it gets down to business it can’t seem to keep up with the pressure of being an actual Matrix movie – though, admittedly, its interests seem to lie elsewhere.

Particularly striking, however, is that for a series known for its nimbly choreographed, often completely staggering action set-pieces, there’s not a single one that stands up to anything within its predecessors. Sequences here are shot in claustrophobic handheld close-ups and further massacred through rapid cutting. A couple of scenes, such as a sudden train shootout, are just plain hard to follow. All the clean spatial awareness and energetic wire-fu that defined so much of the other entries has gone AWOL. If this is to make some larger point, it doesn’t translate.

Though, for as many missteps are here – shoddy action, forgettable new characters, the trivial return of old ones – there’s an earnest quality to its big-hearted messiness that’s typical for a Wachowski movie. Brimming with cornball humor and overt sentimentality, there’s something compelling within the film’s unyielding commitment to its own idiosyncrasies, not to mention the emotionally cogent backbone. It may feel more like a superfluous epilogue than a truly necessary next chapter, but even at that it seems to find more interesting grounds to justify its existence than most other perpetual franchise reboots and sequels. For my money, it’s hard not to value something with such inevitable divisiveness so intrinsically written within its coding.

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More Lana Wachowski Films
Jupiter Ascending
The Wachowskis' space opera starring Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum is a visual dazzler but a narrative splice-and-dice.

Marc Savlov, Feb. 6, 2015

Cloud Atlas
This spellbinding adaptation of a supposedly “unfilmable” novel achieves near-perfection on virtually all levels.

Marc Savlov, Oct. 26, 2012

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Aug. 11, 2023


The Matrix Resurrections, Lana Wachowski, Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Christina Ricci, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra, Lambert Wilson, Jada Pinkett Smith

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