It’s been close to twenty years since mainstream audience ended their journey into The Matrix. The trilogy revolutionized the filmmaking world and influenced countless filmmakers as well. I got swept up in Matrix fever back in 1999 and was genuinely excited to see what the Wachowskis had in store with The Matrix Resurrections. One side of me wanted to blindly nerd out at the prospect of what more can be told from this franchise.
However, I am no longer the individual I once was over 20 years ago. That’s when I realized that The Matrix Resurrections’ chances of being another Hollywood game-changer might’ve already passed.
Lana Wachowski makes a return to direct this time around – minus her sibling Lilly – with the aid of David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon to help with scripting duties. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Jessica Henwick along with a few others to round the cast.
The Matrix Resurrections is one of the most highly anticipated films of the year and I promise to keep spoilers out of this review.
First, it was a damn treat to see Reeves and Moss sharing the big screen again. The chemistry between the two has not decreased all these years and is one of the great points in the movie. Yet, there’s not enough of it. The story circles around the importance of these two characters – as shown in the trailers – but most of the movie is talking about their love in the previous films. This won’t be the only thing The Matrix Resurrections falls back on.
The previous movies took a deep dive into what is reality, existentialism, fate, and faith. In The Matrix Resurrections, the topics fall more into nostalgia with a romantic twist to it. There are times when the plot begins to take this intriguingly and even makes a commentary on society’s need for nostalgia to function. But sadly, that is all pushed to the side early on and barely peaks its head again throughout the movie until it’s used as a frighteningly amateurish exposition dump. The story even relies too heavily on certain plot points from the previous trilogy instead of forging its path.
Much of the cast does a serviceable job – but I felt that it could’ve been much better if the writing was handled more competently. Reeves and Moss fit back in their role and haven’t missed a beat. The two even have fun in exploring somewhat new avenues of their characters but
it’s the surrounding cast that is wasted. Mateen has proven himself many times in previous projects but he’s barely given enough to do to keep relevant to The Matrix Resurrections. Even Henwick had the potential to become the leader in this franchise – if another Matrix was to be made. I honestly wished more of the movie focused on her character.
One entertaining thing – sometimes – is the action. I use “sometimes” because the action can be choppy at certain points and not that much of it looks epic. When I think of The Matrix, I think of the great Lobby Shootout scene from part 1 or even the Highway Chase in part 2. I even fondly remember the Battle of Zion in part 3. The Matix Resurrections has almost none of that scale.
The thing that might come close (barely) is the action set-piece near the end of the third act. Some opportunities might’ve redeemed the unnecessary quick cuts or close-up angles in the high-speed train sequence by opening the shots wider or finding a smoother movement to follow the action. But the scene is cut short I barely got a sense of what the hell was going on.
I have to give it up to Lana Wachowski for revisiting this influential franchise decades later. The Matrix Resurrections is a personal film that tries to add more to the philosophical discussion society has to this day by including a love story and action that could’ve been something original. It’s entertaining nonetheless and might’ve been lightning in the bottle again if the movie came out 5-7 years ago.
Unfortunately, Wachowski made a film that’s just “meh”.