Review – The Matrix: Resurrections
Directed by: Lana Wachowski
Produced by: Lana & Karin Wachowski
Release Date: December 22nd 2021
The reviews for The Matrix: Resurrections have been pretty mixed, which meant that I when I went to see the movie last night, I really did not know what to expect. To give you some context, I grew up with the Matrix and spent much of my childhood lying back on my couch with my feet on the floor pretending that there were bullets whizzing past my head in slow motion. So obviously, I really wanted this latest entry to be great.
Having had about 12 hours to ruminate on the movie, I am still feeling somewhat conflicted about Resurrections.
The movie itself is pretty great, in fact I would go as far as to say that it is probably the best Matrix movie after the iconic original. We all knew that this latest entry could never surpass the first film, so surely all that it had to do in order to justify its existence was be better than the other two sequels, right?
The Matrix: Resurrections in fact had to be more than that. The most unfortunate thing is that the reason it had to be more than just a ‘good sequel,’ was simply due to timing.
See, Resurrections dropped in cinemas just one week after Spider-Man: No Way Home did. Both of these are movies which rely heavily on nostalgia from past entries in their respective franchises. Unfortunately Spider-Man has Matrix beat in this aspect and when No Way Home is still so fresh in the collective mind of cinema-goers, that is an aspect that is hard to shake.
I saw an internet comments recently that stated; “It is a shame that Matrix: Resurrections is coming out just a week after No Way Home. Spider-Man will likely take most of the box office for the entirety of December, leaving The Matrix to lose out financially and yet Matrix will likely be the far more original of the two movies.”
I am not going to name the person that left this comment or divulge where they left it however, I would like to award them with the coveted prize of the most incorrect comment of 2021. Not for the box office prediction, they are probably quite right in saying that this movie will make no money, but the other thing.
Whilst No Way Home used the stories from the past to elevate the current story being told in an emotionally effective way, Resurrections feels more like we are being fed memberberry pie. Nostalgia is used more as a crutch here rather than a storytelling tool.
This fairly lazily implemented attempt at tickling the audience’s nostalgia bone would have been irritating enough, without Resurrections thinking it was being so damn clever whilst doing so. Listen, I am not against meta storytelling whatsoever, I enjoy Deadpool and Rick and Morty as much as the next person. However, it just felt somewhat forced here and sort of like Lana Wachowski thought that she was being far more clever than she actually was in parts.
With all of that said, it is pretty unfair to hold the coincidentally poor timing against this otherwise entertaining entry in the franchise, “but here we are.” Other than the obvious nostalgia-bait that was being dangled throughout the film, I did enjoy most other aspects of Resurrections.
Seeing Keanu, Carrie-Anne Moss and Jada Pinkett-Smith return as Neo, Trinity and Niobe respectively was a treat. Keanu did a great job of portraying a different version of Neo. One that was more emotional and psychologically damaged. When it comes to Jada Pinkett-Smith’s performances, they are usually pretty hit and miss for me, but I actually enjoyed her in the role of an aged Niobe.
Although Carrie-Anne Moss did a phenomenal job when she was onscreen in the film, I was a little disappointed with how long it really took her character to ‘arrive.’ Although she does get a lot of play in the final act of the movie and nails every scene she appears in, I could have definitely done with seeing some more of her in the movie.
Personally, I really enjoyed Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s performance here as a new Morpheus, although I could see why it might prove divisive for fans of the more stoic original version of the character. The other main newcomer to the series was Jessica Henwick as Bugs and I enjoyed her character as well.
Slight spoilers here, however this reveal was illustrated in the movie’s second trailer. Jonathan Groff plays the new version of Agent Smith. I have heard complaints about him being too jovial, however I would personally prefer that the actor makes the role their own rather than just do an impression of Hugo Weaving.
I have heard some complaints being made regarding the visual effects in the movie, however I never had any real problem with those aspects of Resurrections. The direction was fine and the script was serviceable, even if it was chock-full of obvious call backs.
In fact, that last criticism could be used to describe The Matrix: Resurrections as a whole and that was the thing that I felt let down by the most when watching the film. Rather than building on what had come before to progress the series, this movie seemed to be far more content to simply repeat what had come before with a fresh lick of paint.
A sequel to something as iconic as the Matrix justifying its own existence is a big thing for me. I spent most of my review of The Last Of Us 2 complaining about how the sequel was never able to justify itself in my mind. Even though The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions weren’t great films, they at least tried to expand on the first movie, whereas Resurrections feels much more like a re-tread.
I predict that the answer to the question of whether this fourth entry in the series justifies itself in undoing the heart-breaking sacrifice made by Trinity and Neo at the end of Revolutions will vary greatly from person to person. Although I did enjoy aspects of this film, I am struggling to decide whether it was strictly necessary.
Overall, I am feeling conflicted at the moment when trying to give The Matrix: Resurrections a review score. I think I am somewhere between a 6 and a 7 out of 10, but I will need another watch to cement my feeling towards the film. That said, I do feel that Resurrections may be the best Matrix sequel, just slightly edging out Reloaded.
If you enjoyed Dan’s review of The Matrix: Resurrections and are in the mood for some more Keanu-related content, you can check out his review of Cyberpunk: 2077 here.
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