The Matrix series is one I wasn’t really familiar with before this year. Sure I’m familiar with the general ideas and iconography of the series but I hadn’t actually seen any of the films until this year. That said, I was still interested in seeing how a 20 years later sequel would play out and I feel that this is an instance where the ideas and themes of the films don’t quite mesh with the overall plot of the film.
Taking place years after the events of The Matrix Revolutions, the film shows Neo inside a new version of The Matrix, living as Thomas Anderson a game designer who achieved success with game versions of The Matrix trilogy, with parent company Warner Bros pressuring him into creating a sequel. At the same time though, Neo has subconscious memories of the events of The Matrix, creating a programme to view these memories, showing humans in the real world, notably a woman named Bugs, that Neo is alive, which eventually leads to Neo being shown the true nature of his world. However, it is also shown that Trinity is alive and kept in close proximity, but separate, to Neo, with Neo having to restore Trinity’s memories as well. Now there is a lot of meta commentary from Lana Wachowski and the other writers in this film. You can feel a sense of frustration that Wachowski has had with Warner Bros over the direction they wanted to take The Matrix series and this is present throughout the film. There are also interesting ideas raised over the nature of free will and what exactly it means to be alive, especially with the way programmes inside The Matrix are depicted, along with the nature of the relationship between humanity and machine, shown through how human cities have developed in the years since The Matrix Revolutions. I did feel that some elements could have been explained a bit better, mainly the nature of this version of The Matrix compared to the one in the original trilogy, especially with the reveals over how this version works and how it has created conflict between different factions of machines.
The performances I found to be really solid on the whole. Keanu Reeves is as strong as he always has been playing Neo, showing his own dissatisfaction with life inside the Matrix and how he is being controlled by the machines, with the sense of freedom he has once he is released being strong to see. Carrie Anne-Moss as Trinity does a good job at showing the growing dilemma of the character in terms of her relationship with her life in the Matrix and I think here, more than in any other film in the series, the chemistry between Reeves and Anne-Moss is at its strongest. There’s solid work from Jessica Henwick, acting as the eyes of the audience and engaging turns from Neil Patrick Harris, Jada Pinkett Smith and Priyanka Chopra-Jonas (although to say more about their roles would spoil the film). I did feel that Jonathan Groff and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, whilst strong playing this films versions of Agent Smith and Morpheus, didn’t have the same power and presence that Hugo Weaving and Laurence Fishburne had in the roles. They’re not bad, but it did highlight how strong the earlier performances were.
The technical elements of the film are well handled as well. Lana Wachowski is still a strong action direction, knowing how to make visceral and impactful action scenes, especially with showing the wider damage to the environment in the scenes, which helps in making them feel more real. The CG is solid throughout, with the scenes inside the Matrix having a slight uncanny valley effect in some parts, adding to the idea that it is a virtual world, although I did miss the slight green tint that the earlier films had for the Matrix. The make-up work is also solid, particularly that for Reeves and Smith and the music does a good job at creating the tone of the film. The way scenes in the earlier films are recreated and intercut with this film is also interesting, adding to the idea of this being a repeated cycle and helping to demonstrate the idea that studios want to capture and recreate nostalgic IP rather than create something new.
Overall, I feel a bit mixed in my opinions on The Matrix Resurrections. There are interesting ideas at play here and it is well staged, but I think some of the plot elements could have been given a bit more attention. This is a film more focused on the themes and ideas of The Matrix, but I think the issues with the plot prevent this from reaching the heights of the original film.
My Rating: 3.5/5