REVIEW: ‘The Matrix Resurrections’ takes the movie franchise in new directions while paying homage to the past
SALT LAKE CITY, UT — “Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.” –Morpheus
That line, originally spoken in 1999’s The Matrix, also makes an appearance in 2021’s The Matrix Resurrections. It’s a great illustration in one sentence of both the variable nature of the movie’s realities, as well as its own self-awareness.
Fortunately for fans, the mythology on which the franchise is built allows for a believable reboot based within its own variable realities, which is what we get with Resurrections.
Keanu Reeves returns as Thomas Anderson, aka Neo, who was once the “Chosen One” who would save humanity from enslavement at the hands of the machines—something he eventually did in The Matrix Revolutions. But, spoiler alert from a movie that came out 18 years ago, Neo died in the process. Yet, here he is again, alive, in The Matrix Resurrections.
Carrie-Anne Moss is also back as a woman named Tiffany. She used to be called Trinity, and…she also died in The Matrix Revolutions. Yet, here she is.
I won’t spoil anything key to the plot, like how they are alive—or even if it’s really them. Original co-writer and director Lana Wachowski is back on this movie, though her sister Lily, who also co-created & directed the original trilogy, did not return for this fourth entry.
Joining Reeves and Moss for Resurrections are newcomers Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, and even Priyanka Chopra-Jonas. Greatly missed were Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving, though they do appear in flashbacks to the original movie.
THINGS I LIKED
What The Matrix Resurrections did best, in my opinion, was figure out a way to reboot the story line and justify its own existence. Wachowski mixes old and new in the plot, revisiting key sequences and shots from the original trilogy to help catch new viewers up with those who are already familiar with all things in the Matrix universe.
The special effects were cutting-edge once again, especially in moments and scenes that, for spoiler reasons, I won’t mention here. Thankfully, we got to see more than just a re-visit of former action sequences and “bullet time” or just taking some old, familiar sights like the falling green numbers of code and mixing them into newer shots.
Reeves and Moss are great as they slip into their old roles, but at the same time also bringing a weariness that comes with many years (and miles) that both the characters and actors themselves have experienced.
But mainly the best thing that Resurrections did was to justify its own existence within the story. It’s easy to see the existence of a fourth movie as nothing more than a cash grab by Warner Brothers–a fact that is even mentioned in the movie in a very hilarious and self-aware moment, but I will give Wachowski credit for crafting a narrative that obeys its own rules and builds upon its own mythology instead of merely retreading it.
The idea promulgated in the movie that the original trilogy was just a series of video games programmed by Reeves’ character as a setup to allow the new movie’s world to have a believable reason to exist despite the events of the first three films, was to me a pretty brilliant narrative stroke.
The Matrix Resurrections is rated R for violence and language. For what it’s worth, I left the movie wondering if it was PG-13 or R because it was borderline between the two. The run time of the movie, including a post-credits scene is 2 hours and 28 minutes, though you won’t miss anything important if you don’t stay for the final post-credits scene.
The other big warning is that the movie is self-aware almost to a fault. The meta jokes about Warner Bros owning the Matrix, or the discussion among game programmers in the movie about what makes The Matrix what it is are humorous moments.
Yet at some point the nihilistic view of how you have no real choice in any matter, despite what you think, as well as the debate over what is real and why you perceive it that way starts to grate on you.
I thought The Matrix Resurrections was a not a bad way to reboot a franchise. It was a well-crafted mix of old and new, familiar and fresh. I loved hearing Don Davis’ familiar musical cue that immediately brings back the old feelings of watching The Matrix for the first time.
I enjoyed all of the movie on my first watch-through. On the second viewing, certain scenes dragged a little bit, especially at the beginning. However, the overall re-watch-ability is higher for this movie than an average movie because so much happens the first time through to make you question what you’re seeing. Thus, you want to watch it again to see it with all plot knowledge beforehand.
Wachowski took the franchise in interesting new directions and even left the door open for more sequels.
I give the movie TWO AND A HALF out of FOUR stars.
WHERE TO WATCH
The Matrix Resurrections is playing in theaters, but you also have the option to stream this one at home if you are a subscriber to HBO Max. It’s worth noting that this is the last same day-and-date premiere on HBO Max of a movie that is new to theaters. Warner Bros one year experiment for 2021 is not currently planned to repeat in 2022, at least as of now.
Hopefully you & your family found this review helpful! Andy Farnsworth does a weekly “What To Watch” segment for the KSL 5 Today morning news show and also hosts the Fan Effect podcast for KSL NewsRadio. Check out his other in-depth reviews of movies and streaming TV series on KSLTV.com.
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