One-liner: eye-popping visuals, good chemistry and timely commentary invigorate this imaginative yet muddled rehash.
The Matrix is almost a quarter of a century old next year. While the beloved landmark sci-fi action thriller still holds strong as a standalone film, there’s always a twinge of disappointment in the sequels that turned it into a trilogy as the iconic film franchise overextended itself. Whether it tried to do too much, hit us with its best shot out of the gates or simply got the balance of reality versus science fiction warped, the overall mind-bending vision behind The Matrix feels as limitless as The Terminator universe.
While the 25-year anniversary is just over the horizon, this unexpected return was probably prompted by the popularity of Keanu Reeves in the wake of the much-loved John Wick series. Now interchangeably styled to look like John Wick, perhaps Reeves has become a brand more than an actor, having unleashed The Matrix Resurrections, Bill & Ted Face the Music and John Wick: Chapter 4 in quick succession. While in truth very few can do what Keanu Reeves does, his burgeoning pop culture clout doesn’t seem like quite enough motivation to rehash a much-loved franchise.
Testament to his enduring decades-spanning appeal, Keanu Reeves reteams with Carrie-Anne Moss to reprise their roles in this reboot to The Matrix trilogy. Lana Wachowski returns to create a solo directorial reworking of the original Matrix with the help of Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell, taking place some 60 years later in a world where a new and much more dangerous Matrix exists. It’s difficult to think of where the franchise would go from the conclusion of The Matrix Revolutions. So instead of branching out in an entirely new direction, Wachowski fast-forwards and rewinds to turn it inside out as Mr. Anderson opts to follow the white rabbit once more.
“Let’s party like it’s 1999…”
Using footage from the original series to help remind us of the original’s invention and phenomenon, this pastiche is best summed up by the cover of Rage Against the Machine’s track ‘Freedom’ in the closing credits. It’s ultimately a navel-gazing and nostalgia-inducing diversion that simply echoes and creates an appetite for the majesty and novelty of the original masterpiece. The Matrix Resurrections has eye-popping visuals as expected, creating some spectacular action set pieces in an imaginative way without betraying the tone and feel of The Matrix universe.
Introducing new faces, such as Yahya Abdul-Mateen II to replace Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus, this belated sequel has a tongue-in-cheek sensibility in the way it “goes meta”. While calling it ‘The Neomatrix’ may have been overkill, this thoughtful addition is not simply a cash grab, making a timely examination of modern society in its dualities and hypocrisies. Poking fun at itself, creating flashes of déjà vu and making some self-reflective comments on the here and now, The Matrix Resurrections is a curious oddity.
It’s fun to see Neil Patrick Harris taking on the role of a villain with more clout and while this mind heist sci-fi action adventure sometimes seems influenced by the likes of Tenet and Inception, it has enough recalls and style to mirror some of the original trilogy’s trademark elements. Sadly, the production was affected by the pandemic and resurrected by the actors who implored Wachowski to finish the film. Unfortunately, the setback does lend a salvaged feel to this self-indulgent medley and postmodernist tribute, which comes across like a spoof in trying to mimic The Matrix’s epic ending.
The bottom line: Warped