The Matrix Resurrections is the fourth film in the Matrix series, the first since the release of the second sequel Revolutions in 2003. Following on from two sequels that were misjudged to say the best, Resurrections is the sequel that no one really asked for and after watching it, it’s definitely a sequel we didn’t need.
After saving the human race and restoring peace to the Matrix in Revolutions, Resurrections picks up 60 years later. Bugs (Jessica Henwick) discovers a modal playing in a loop within the Matrix, depicting when Trinity first found Neo. As she goes on the hunt to uncover the truth behind the modal, Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is a successful video game developer, creator of The Matrix video game series which are loosely based on his memories as Neo. At a local coffee shop he frequents, he often crosses paths with Tiffany (Carrie-Anne Moss), who reminds him a lot of Trinity. He struggles to determine what is real and what isn’t and is prescribed blue pills from his therapist (Neil Patrick Harris) to keep his delusions at bay.
Bugs discovers that the modal was created by Anderson, and it leads her to a program to unlock a version of Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). She frees him and together they locate Anderson in a bid to free Neo from the Matrix yet again. Meanwhile, Anderson’s boss Smith (Jonathan Groff) is attempting to erase the modal and in doing so, is in fact revealed to be Agent Smith.
Despite Anderson’s doubts about this reality, they escape the clutches of Smith and he takes the blue pill to wake in the real world, in a pod alongside one housing Trinity. Bugs, along with the crew on her ship, Mnemosyne, travel with Neo to the city of Io, where the humans have learnt to co-exist with machines that have defected to join them. Neo’s intentions are to free Trinity from the Matrix but after being locked up by the General (a familiar character), they defy orders and return to the Matrix. Here they’re confronted by Smith along with a number of exile programs and also face up against The Analyst, all of whom will do anything to return the Matrix to its former state and prevent Neo from freeing Trinity.
After the confusion and overly complicated storyline that was Reloaded and Revolutions, we really didn’t need another Matrix film. It feels like Lana Wachowski is thinking along the same lines, as a lot of what we see in this new film is either incredibly similar to the first film, or it’s just a flashback with clips from the other three films. There is a good idea here – having Neo as a programmer for a game version of The Matrix is actually a very good shout and does have a few humorous meta moments. But overall it’s poorly executed and aside from this over-arching plot idea, it doesn’t feel particularly original. It’s like they’ve tried to go back to basics and take everything that made The Matrix so brilliant and try and repeat the same formula. The end result is an overly long, drawn-out sequel with a lot of unnecessary scenes and flashbacks.
Despite not overcomplicating the story to quite the same degree as the other two sequels, Resurrections still goes a little too far and there are a lot of parts of the story that just don’t make sense or have incredibly poor explanations. There also appears to be a number of characters that seem prominent, to begin with, but then disappear without a trace. There are also a number of characters that are particularly hard done by – Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as the newer version of Morpheus is given very little to work with and despite how it appears in the trailer, his screen time is limited to the point where I wondered why they bothered bringing his character back at all. It’s a shame as I think Abdul-Mateen could have handled the character quite well. Keanu Reeves is again proving his limited acting abilities to the point where I struggled to watch him, Carrie-Anne Moss isn’t given anything to do until the last 20 minutes or so, and aside from Bugs, the rest of the new human characters just seem to be there to fill out the background. And the blast from the past, Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith), should have remained very much in the past with the horrific prosthetic make-up they’d put her in, to the point where her face didn’t even move. I could’ve looked past the fact that the inclusion of her character was entirely unnecessary had they at least made her look believable.
The only people who really shine in this are Jonathan Groff and Neil Patrick Harris. Harris is always a riot to watch whatever he’s in, and it’s no different here and he also injects some much-needed intelligence and humour. Whereas Groff has a difficult task to fill the shoes of Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith, and while he isn’t quite as sinister overall, he brings a certain dark charm and charisma that made me want to see more of him.
The film starts off well with an action-packed opener, but it all goes downhill from there to the point where I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when it got to the final scenes, which are laughably silly. The CGI for the most part is good, the “bullet time” scene with The Analyst is fairly impressive but I found the quality in other scenes to be questionable and quite frankly, boring. I’d even grown tired of Neo’s powers by the end as they were rather dull.
The Matrix Resurrections, and the other two sequels that have come before it for that matter, is a case of filmmakers trying to milk a story for all that it’s worth. Somewhere underneath all of this unoriginality is a potentially decent plot, but it has been ruined by overly complicated ideas and nonsensical explanations. I just hope this is the last sequel we’ll see.
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A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!