THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS

Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Lana Wachowski

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Neil Patrick Harris, Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Jonathan Groff, Jessica Henwick, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lambert Wilson, Priyanka Chopra Jona, Christina Ricci, Daniel Bernhardt. 

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In 1999 the filmmaking siblings Larry and Andy Wachowski gave us The Matrix, a mind-boggling cyberpunk sci-fi thriller that took us inside a mysterious cyber world that mixed martial arts with some revolutionary state-of-the-art special effects. It also introduced us to the concept of “bullet time”. The film spawned two clunky sequels, neither of which was as inventive or as enjoyable. Now 18 years after The Matrix Revolutions, we get this belated fourth installment with The Matrix Resurrections, but this is something of a mess lacking the with, heart and spectacle of the original. This is largely an unnecessary addition to the series that I found a chore to sit through. It feels more like a contractual obligation rather than a passion project, and fails to convince us that it needed to be made. 

Lana (formerly Larry) Wachowski flies solo for the first time with this sequel, which was written by Wachowski and David Mitchell (who collaborated with the filmmakers on Cloud Atlas) and Aleksandar Hemon (Love Island, etc). The film is very meta, with lots of references to the previous films as it also attempts to both deconstruct those films and its place in pop cultural history. It is unnecessarily convoluted and frustrating and has a largely esoteric language all of its own as it talks about source codes and consciousness. I was conscious of its bloated running time and felt every one of its 148 minutes. 

The Matrix Resurrections is set some decades after the events of the last film in the trilogy. We find Neo (Keanu Reeves) now working and living under his real name of Thomas Anderson. He works as a video games designer in San Francisco, where he has created a series of best-selling games that have been inspired by his dreams and experiences within the cyber world of the matrix. He is being pressured by his boss to come up with a fourth game in the series. While visiting a nearby café for breakfast he spies a woman (Carrie Anne-Moss) who bears a strong resemblance to the character of Trinity, his fellow rebel inside the matrix. She is Tiffany, a married woman with two children. And all the while Thomas is seeing a psychiatrist (Neil Patrick Harris), who prescribes him blue pills to keep him sane and grounded in the real world. 

But before long Thomas is pulled back into the digital cyber world of the matrix, and he finds that it has somehow changed. Feted as “the One” a mystical resistance fighter who can somehow save mankind from the rogue machines, he reconnects with a reprogrammed Morpheus 2 (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, from Watchmen, etc), the hacker who freed him from the matrix, and confronts his former nemesis Mr Smith (now played by Jonathan Groff, from Mindhunter, etc). The film seems to spend much of its time in trying to bring Trinity and Neo back together. The pacing is uneven and there is lots of exposition and philosophical discussions that slow down the momentum. The fight choreography is as good as it ever was, thanks largely to stunt co-ordinator Chad Stahelski (who worked with Reeves on the John Wick films). 

Like the previous Wachowski films Cloud Atlas and Jupiter Ascending, The Matrix Resurrections left me scratching my head in confusion. And Reeves seems lost and bemused for much of the film. 

The Matrix Resurrections has been shot by Daniele Massaccesi (Under The Skin, etc) and Oscar winner John Toll (Braveheart, etc), but it is a visually ugly film with its washed out colour palette and sets that look particularly grungy and industrial in nature. Green hued shots and sequences from the original trilogy have been liberally spliced into the action here to provide a sense of continuity, but they also effectively add to the confusion felt by Anderson. 

Wachowski has managed to bring back Jada Pinkett Smith into the fold, reprising her role as General Niobe from the original sequels, albeit an older and wiser version. The cast also includes Lambert Wilson, Bollywood star Priyanka Chopri Jonas, while Jessica Henwick brings spunk to her role as a blue-haired hacker and rebel named Bugs, and Christina Ricci is wasted in a thankless cameo role.   

This is one franchise that didn’t need resurrecting, and The Matrix Resurrections is purely one for fans of the original trilogy. 

★★☆ 

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