THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS (hereafter referred to as “RESURRECTIONS”) is directed by Lana Wachowski. It stars Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lambert Wilson, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, and Priyanka Chopra Jonas. It’s the fourth film in THE MATRIX franchise, following THE MATRIX, THE MATRIX RELOADED, and THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS.
60 years have passed since the climactic battle in the Matrix for which hero Neo made the ultimate sacrifice. Thomas Anderson, who was once Neo, lives an unassuming life as a video game programmer where he finds himself unable to distinguish his dreams from reality, completely unaware of the life he once lived. But it’s not long before there’s unrest in the Matrix again, and, having been rebuilt in the Matrix, he finds himself back in the fray, fighting a battle against foes both new and familiar.
Did THE MATRIX need sequels? No one will deny that the original 1999 film was a seminal sci-fi classic for the ages, and while its immediate sequels were massively financially successful, both sacrificed the cerebral elements of the original for an all-out action approach. I love the original movie, and I was certainly skeptical about the creation of a fourth film. RESURRECTIONS presents an interesting attempt that entertains with its meta-style humor and commentary, though it feels a bit bloated and difficult to follow at times. While many of the classic cast members are welcomed here with open arms, the absence of others can certainly be felt.
Where RESURRECTIONS deserves the most respect is bringing back classic cast members Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, who give the movie’s best performances. Since Reeves got to reprise the role of Ted Theodore Logan a few years ago, why not let him revisit Neo too? The two of them make for some of the film’s absolute best moments. While the newcomers to the movie are hit and miss, one of the surprises was Neil Patrick Harris, someone I was surprised to see pop up in the movie, but who’s able to play a suitably slimy villain who chews up the scenery in all his scenes.
The movie also succeeds in creating (or should I say, resurrecting?) the worlds of the original films, and the improvements in film effects are put to good use here. When RESURRECTIONS is at its best and most exciting, you won’t want to take your eyes off it. The visual aspect doesn’t disappoint in the least, and it’s the atmosphere fans will want to return to. You won’t be let down by what’s shown on screen.
Also surprising is the decision to utilize meta-style commentary and humor. THE MATRIX, in the film universe’s “real world,” is depicted as a video game series programmed by Neo. Some of the remarks made here are laugh-out-loud funny, and you’ll have to see the movie to believe it.
Unfortunately, the movie’s not quite the homecoming fans may want. There are so many ideas and heavy-handed concepts that never feel like they all gel or work out for the best. The movie doesn’t return to the more thought-provoking cerebral tone of the original, though I’d still argue it’s at least slightly more in that direction than the prior sequels. Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving are sadly missed, and the actors taking over their roles lack the charisma of their better-known predecessors. At times the movie has a hard time keeping the attention of the viewer, though it’s still more of a hit than a miss.
I wouldn’t rush to the theater to see RESURRECTIONS, but it’s not a bad movie either, and it’ll make for a decent rental title when it hits home video formats and goes into its wide streaming release. Moderately recommended, but for fans only.