I was intrigued after the first trailer dropped for the Matrix: Resurrections, but I was also a bit concerned. As much as I liked the idea of returning to the lore of the Matrix, after re-watching the original and its both needless and horrible sequels, I really felt like Warner Bros. should just leave it well enough alone.
But, Warner Bros. is a company that will do anything to squeeze every last dollar it can from the IP it owns, so Matrix 4 was inevitably going to happen.
If you’ve never watched the Matrix films, I’ll spare you. Resurrections assumes that you’ve seen the previous trilogy, so you’re better off taking a pass here. If you’re even remotely interested in the Matrix, watch the original 1999 film and stop there.
TL:DR – The Matrix Resurrections desperately wants to revive not only its main characters but the franchise as well, and although it touches on a few new ideas, it ultimately devolves into a low-rent re-hash of the original film. While some people may enjoy it, I was disappointed that they couldn’t figure out how to build a good story with the lore they had. I left the theater feeling like Resurrections was nothing more than a blatant cash grab by Warner Bros., and much like the previous two sequels, it probably shouldn’t have been made.
I can’t go into much more detail without spoiling the original trilogy. I won’t spoil Matrix 4, but I will refer to the original film, so you’ve been warned.
Obviously, as we’ve seen from the trailers, Neo appears to be a) alive and b) back in the Matrix. Trinity is there as well, and she and Neo clearly don’t know one another.
The first act has a bit cute and/or cringey meta to it. Keanu Reeves is now back as Thomas Anderson aka Neo, and he’s now a super-rich world-famous game designer who’s responsible for creating a mind blowing series of video games called — the Matrix. Tommy boy is also considered to be a bit crazy as he seems to have trouble keeping the “real” world separated from his video game universe. Regardless, his corporate overlords have decided it’s time to make another Matrix game, and they’re willing to do it with or without Anderson’s company.
(Apparently, this is true. Warner was already considering various treatments for a Matrix sequel without the Wachowskis before Lana Wachowski approached them)
A new cast of characters discovers that Thomas/Neo is alive and in the Matrix, so much of the first half of the film revolves around rescuing him (again) , teaching him about the Matrix (again) and showing him the real world (again).
They literally show Neo clips from the original films, which represent the “games” he created to remind him about the Matrix.
There are a couple of new twists this time around, and a couple of interesting items are briefly introduced into the lore (both of which would have made better films) and quickly forgotten. Overall, though, the story simply dissolves into a bit of a re-hash of the first film. There’s some fan service as they bring in other characters from the previous films to either help or hinder the story. The new cast of characters is pretty forgettable, and even Neo is mostly just along for the ride.
In a way, Resurrections suffers from the same problem as The Force Awakens. As much as Warner wanted to milk another trilogy out of the Matrix, it feels like they didn’t have enough confidence that they could. So, instead of taking the time to plan out a well thought out three-film arc, they just went with a “safer” story meant to refresh the memories of fans. I guess they figured they’d just tack on more movies if Matrix 4 makes enough money.
I think there’s enough lore there, and they introduced some decent ideas in Resurrections that they could have built a new trilogy around, but I don’t think Lana Wachowski was the one to do it. I think they really needed a fresh set of eyes.
Honestly, I think they should have just gone with a clean reboot. If you had to put Keanu in the film, give him a mentor role and build a good story that allows Neo to hand things off to a new cast.
Everything in the film just feels — worse. Gunfights aren’t as well put together as the bad guys now shoot like stormtroopers. The fight choreography, which was one of the standout features of the films, is also lackluster. Based on how hard Keanu trains for the John Wick films, it seems like he’s certainly still capable of doing the scenes. Maybe he had a scheduling-conflict or they couldn’t hire a good group of fight choreographers? Regardless, the fights are not up to the level of the other films.
And, if you’re a fan of the film, you’re likely going to have questions, like: why would the machines resurrect Neo, who represented a major threat to their existence, in the first place? Why bring Trinity back? Why bring any of the bad guys back? Why stick them into a Matrix? What happened to the “peace”? Why, why, why…
Not to worry, the film is going to do its best to barely answer almost none of those questions. Seriously.
Some popular characters are back, but with new faces. Even though Yahya Abdul-Mateen II adds some new personality into Morpheus, he’s no Lawrence Fishburne. Agent Smith is also back, for reasons. Jonathan Groff does channel a bit of the original Smith, he just doesn’t project the same level of menace that Hugo Weaving did. Really, all of the bad guys, though they’re great actors, feel miscast because none of them really feel like a threat at any point in the story. Most of that is simply because the writing is just that bad.
The film is mostly watchable, but it’s a bit long. It grinds to a screeching halt for long stretches before ramping up again for the next action sequence. The climax is a bit predictable, but there’s a decent action near the end.
There are at least a couple of places where Keanu is put into a situation and he literally says “I remember this.”
No shit, man. We remember it, too, from a much better film.
The original Matrix was a fresh sci-fi story with groundbreaking special effects at a time, even 20 years ago, when Hollywood was already losing interest in taking chances on original material and banking more on established franchises with built-in audiences.
The Matrix never needed a sequel, and yet, it now has three of them. After watching all of the films, I still don’t know why they bothered with any of them (beyond the obvious money grab).
If you’re really itching for a Matrix fix, go back and watch the original film and skip all of the sequels.