To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, The Matrix Resurrections is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi action film produced, co-written, and directed by Lana Wachowski and stars newcomers Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, while Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Lambert Wilson, and Jada Pinkett Smith reprise their roles from the previous films. A sequel to The Matrix Revolutions and the fourth installment in The Matrix franchise, the film is set sixty years after the events of the previous film and follows Thomas Anderson, a famous video game developer who has trouble distinguishing dreams from reality after creating The Matrix, a popular video game trilogy. Soon a group of rebels, including a digital remaster of Morpheus, free Thomas from this new Matrix that was designed to keep him docile and remind him of his past as Neo. Together they battle a new machine enemy that holds a revived Trinity captive.
Like George Lucas before them, the Wachowski’s are great at building lore and creating worlds. The world of The Matrix was unique for its time and has grown to become a part of pop culture discussion and philosophical thought. Are we living in a simulation? How would we know we were in a simulation or not? These are questions that are asked more and more. As the sequels were made neither could live up to the runaway success of the first film. This showed that while the Wachowski’s are good at creating lore they are not the best at translating it to a great script. The same issue can be seen in this new film. The Matrix Resurrections introduces a lot of intriguing new lore to The Matrix franchise. Some aspects are new while other aspects build off of what came before. There is the revelation that Trinity and Neo are both components of the One which has been hinted at in the previous films. Also, the machine civil war that took place in between this film and the last. Unfortunately, all of this information is thrown into a script without focus leaving the audience with more questions than answers.
The female stars are at the forefront of this film and this is encapsulated by Jessica Henwick’s performance. She is great as Bugs. She’s practically the Morpheus of this film and she is fascinated with stories of the One and hopes to find him and set him free. She has a prior connection to him that helped her escape the Matrix. Speaking of Morpheus, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is fine as the digital remaster of Morpheus, but his role could have easily gone to Lawrence Fishburne. If Lana Wachowski wanted a younger actor she could have used the de-aging technology on Lawrence Fishburne to have him appear the same as he did in the previous three films. Or better yet Yahya Abdul-Mateen II could’ve been a new character unrelated to Morpheus. The same can be said for Jonathan Groff as Smith. Recasting Hugo Weaving does make sense with continuity since Smith is a program and this is an updated version of the Matrix. Something that was explored with the Oracle in The Matrix Revolutions. However, Groff’s mannerisms as Smith don’t quite feel the same as the original and would have worked better as a new character as well. Neil Patrick Harris turns in a great performance as The Analyst, a program masquerading as Thomas’ therapist within the Matrix. His character is sneaky, manipulative, and conniving. His role is very similar to the Architect in the previous films but more hands-on.
The Matrix Resurrections is very meta and feels almost like an inside joke between Lana Wachowski and her team. Jokes are made about sequels not being as good as the originals, and studios forcing directors into making films they don’t want to make. The issue is that the jokes are not introduced cleverly and are almost fourth-wall-breaking winks and nods to the audience. The point of the meta-commentary is understandable, as it is supposed to make the viewer question their reality even more. Part of this reason it doesn’t work is because every feeling of déjà vu the film attempts to is undercut by flashbacks to the original film.
The action scenes are very forgettable and very effects-heavy. The fight choreography seems very lackluster and a severe downgrade from the first three films. This is very sad considering that Keanu does a fantastic job on the John Wick films. It feels like he squeezed this film in and didn’t get enough time to properly prepare. This could be partially due to COVID restrictions, but if so the film should have been pushed back to better prepare. While there are many great scenes in this film overall the story does feel a bit unorganized. The film also poorly uses fan service by bringing in old characters that are not necessary to drive the plot forward. The Matrix franchise could use some new blood moving forward, however, Vaughn should continue to be attached as an executive producer.
The Matrix Resurrections is a half-good movie with half-baked ideas. Sadly, only one Wachowski returned to direct the film, and it clearly hurt the final product. I give The Matrix Resurrections a Bad 4.99/10. While not the best the franchise has to offer, there’s enough new lore to keep the audience interested in seeing where the franchise is headed in a potential sequel film.