The Matrix Resurrections

December 22, 2021

Review, sci-fi, Theatrical, This Week 1 Comment

… too tortured, too inconsistent, to offer a cohesive experience, much less an enjoyable one.
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The Matrix Resurrections

Anthony O'Connor
Year: 2021
Rating: M
Director: Lana Wachowski
Cast:

Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jessica Henwick, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jonathan Grof, Neil Patrick Harris

Distributor: Warner Bros/Universal
Released: December 26, 2021
Running Time: 148 minutes
Worth: $7.50

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

… too tortured, too inconsistent, to offer a cohesive experience, much less an enjoyable one.

There are two types of Matrix fans in this world. There are those who thought the 1999 original was a cinematic game-changer, with a great aesthetic, strong ideas and iconic action scenes, which was followed by two rather clunky 2003 sequels that just didn’t quite work. Then there are those who adore the entire trilogy, warts and all, and probably own at least one copy of The Animatrix (2003), not to mention a leather trench coat. If you’re in the latter group? You might find something to love here. For everyone else, The Matrix Resurrections is going to be a confounding, frustrating ride.

The Matrix Resurrections is a reboot/remix/sequel/continuation to/of The Matrix Revolutions. Twenty years after the events of that film, Neo (Keanu Reeves) is living in San Francisco under his original name, Thomas Anderson. In this reality, ol’ mate is a revered game designer. His best work? A video game trilogy called The Matrix, and now corporate wants to make a fourth entry. But why does Thomas feel so unsettled, and what’s the go with his shrink, The Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris), who keeps prescribing him blue pills? And who is that strange lady he just ran into in the coffee shop, Tiffany (Carrie-Anne Moss) and why does Thommo feel like he knows her?

To be fair, this is a pretty strong set up for a clever, knowing, winkingly meta exploration of The Matrix trilogy and its impact on popular culture and society in general. Unfortunately, this interesting first burst of creativity is soon submerged in a morass of turgid storytelling, endless exposition dumps and oddly flat, poorly-staged action scenes. The first two flaws can be forgiven – in all honesty, every one of the previous Matrix films suffered intermittently from the same condition – but the lack of visual panache is baffling.

It doesn’t help that the film contains endless reams of footage from the first Matrix, which is a rather stark reminder how over-lit and unimaginative this new entry is. Admittedly, Resurrections is directed by Lana Wachowski sans sister Lilly, so a different style was expected, but some sections of the movie are not only lacking in style, they’re straight-up ugly!

On the slender plus side, the actors really do give their all. Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss both bring a pleasing sense of nuance and vulnerability to their roles, with Moss, in particular, getting to shine in ways she didn’t in the original trilogy. Newcomer Jessica Henwick is also superb as Bugs, even though her role pretty much just involves explaining stuff and flipping off buildings. Jonathan Grof is also appealing as the rebooted Smith and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (yet another misguided reboot for this quality actor) does fine work as the born-again Morpheus, even though both roles feel clumsily written.

There are good ideas in The Matrix Resurrections, and it definitely feels like it was made with the best of intentions. However, the delivery is just too tortured, too inconsistent, to offer a cohesive experience, much less an enjoyable one. If you squint, you can sorta see what they’re going for. Revolutions was a bummer, and a more fitting coda to what could have been a great series is not necessarily a bad idea, but The Matrix Resurrections is just another sequel in this wonky franchise that fails to live up to that amazing first film.

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