Director: Lana Wachowski
Notable Cast: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya
Abdul-Mateen II, Jonathan Groff, Jessica Henwick, Neil Patrick Harris, Jada
Pinkett Smith, Priyanka Chopra, Christina Ricci, Lambert Wilson, Chad Stahelski
There’s a joke somewhere where I sarcastically connect the
term ‘reboot’ between a computer being reset to cleanse itself of running
programs and the idea that this long awaited sequel, The Matrix
Resurrections, serves as both a sequel and a reboot to the series as it
attempts to enter into its next phase of existence. It’s an easy joke to make
and I spent a stupid amount of time sitting in the theater prior to the start
of the movie trying to craft the wording and introduction to this review.
Too bad The Matrix Resurrections beat me to the
This fourth film in the series, although one might consider
it the fifth since the Wachowskis consider the spin off film, The Animatrix,
as canon in the series, knows exactly what purpose it serves. This is a film
that’s meant to recapture the delights of the original 1999 genre-bending
classic while pushing the franchise into a new age for possible new sequels and
IP creation while feeding into an audience’s nostalgia. It’s the quintessential
reboot. That’s the definition. That’s what a reboot is and does.
Lana Wachowski fuckin’ knows too.
She knows it so well that she writes and directs the film in
a knowing way. The Matrix Resurrections regularly spends massive swaths
of its first act holding up a middle finger to the studio system and the trends
of modern cinema. In the same way that Wes Craven used the Nightmare on Elm
Street series to comment on itself, a snake eating its own tail, in the
dynamic and unprecedented seventh entry of that franchise, New Nightmare,
The Matrix Resurrections is here to criticize its own existence while
using it to continue its layered approach to delivering fun action cinema and
injecting social commentary.
Well, boot me in, Lana. I’m fucking here for that in all of
its complex, cheesy, and insane glory.
To try and unravel the plot of the film is for the film to
do, but rest assured it’s as outlandish as one would expect - particularly in
how it builds the original Matrix trilogy into its own world as a video
game created by one, Thomas Anderson aka Neo, played once again by Keanu
Reeves. The film is having far too much fun playing with its own nostalgia and
expectations from its audiences. From a wild performance from Yahya
Abdul-Mateen II in a remixed and updated version of Morpheus to how the film
works classic villains into the mix through new and old characters that arrive
on the scene as Neo rediscovers The Matrix.
The familiar, both in iconic shots or in thematic nostalgia
trips, is both shown to be revered and problematic in the film as it regularly
uses a viewer’s expectations to challenge them. To say that The Matrix
Resurrections will actively thrill and anger people is proof that its
complexities are justifiably meaningful and the bold manner that Wachowski aims
to use them drives the emotional reactions. As a villain so aptly coos at Neo,
why are we so obsessed with facts and rules when fiction and feelings are what
matter to the human existence? The Matrix Resurrections
takes this to heart and throws so many of its own facts and rules out the
window to double down on the fiction and feelings and it’s hard to consume. In
the best of ways, naturally. Holding on rigidly to the previous films presents a problem and the film actively exploits that.
Granted, on its surface level, The Matrix Resurrections
still entertains and uses its incredibly visionary moments to maintain its
status as one of the most impressive eye-feasts in action cinema. Whether it’s
the remixed opening that features one of our big new characters, Bugs - who
showcases an incredible new rising star with Jessica Henwick, or a few low-key
classic action moments like a brutal brawl on a train filled with Bots or a
kung fu trial between Neo and Nu Morpheus, this latest entry still delivers on
the thrills. The wire fu and hand to hand combat does miss the deft touch of
choreographer Yuen Woo Ping and the spectacle is not nearly as grand as the
previous two sequels, but there are moments where The Matrix Resurrections
still manages to impress - including a finale with “bombs” that made me swear
To give too much more away might betray the experience of
the film. It’s both daring and repetitive, but the manner that it whips between
the two and pushes back against expectations of what a new film in this
franchise should mean is delightfully refreshing. It’s not quite as epic as the
other sequels and The Matrix Resurrections abandons so much of its
philosophical monologues for the sake of stripping the series back to its core
ideas will either work for its viewers or not.
At its core, this is a film about Neo and Trinity, their
connection and the meaningfulness of it. The rest of the film with its new
characters, plot points, or even the action set pieces all aim for that story
and it’s a reminder of why this series was the redefining cinematic event 20
Call it a reboot. Call it a sequel. Call it a reimagining of the series. It’s a resurrection and Lana Wachowski crafts a film that knows what it is and ably navigates all the expectations with a challenging smirk and a defiant laugh.
Welcome back to The Matrix everyone. It welcomes you.