The Matrix Resurrections (2021) isn’t a terrible film. Certainly, it’s not as bad as many critics claim it is. The original film The Matrix (1999) was truly groundbreaking, and a huge moment in cinematic science fiction. But the two follow up films couldn’t replicate that success. So, rather than a straightforward review, SciFiPulse is here to discuss various issues around the latest franchise installment . . .
The narrative of The Matrix: Resurrections plays out very similarly way to The Matrix. Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) — now “Tom” is a hugely successful computer programmer, and game writer. He supposedly designed and wrote the first three Matrix games. This works quite well, as you aren’t actually sure whether or not that is true. Crucially, neither is the character. But once you see those outside of the Matrix reach him, you realise he was out back in, after his body was rebuilt, following his death in The Matrix: Revolutions (2003). Also, Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss) was, too. It’s at this point the film’s problems begin to weigh it down so heavily.
Essentially, The Matrix Resurrections is a love story. The same is true of The Matrix, and to a lesser extent, the two prior sequels. Once the film’s action begins to take place outside of the matrix, we encounter the issues that came about following The Matrix. We’re in the realm of philosophy again. That itself isn’t an issue, it’s just that the film’s story-world is dull, and it makes emotionally investing in things an uphill struggle. Whether as Thomas Anderson or Neo, Keanu Reeves brilliantly depicted one of the best underdogs ever. We saw a nobody and an everyman combined, and it worked brilliantly. The problem is that outside of the matrix, the heroism just doesn’t work. That was the problem with the sequels, and the same issue is prevalent here. All the explaining in the world just can’t solve that.
Of course, the film still looked incredible, visually. But there was nothing groundbreaking, and therein lies the problem. The creativity of the original movie was what made it so special, not just the technology itself. Innovation in camerawork is what’s at the heart of “bullet-time”. Unfortunately, The Matrix Resurrections simply doesn’t stand apart from all of the films that bullet-time made possible. Also, twenty years on, the gulf between the cyber world and the real world feels much thinner, so some of the original magic is lost. To be fair, the film does mention this and tries to use that to its advantage. So, that leads us to discuss what went well in the movie . . .
The fact that there was a workable story at all was no small achievement. The considerations were numerous as they were complex, following the baffling explanations of how the matrix worked, in the original two sequels. This time, things were kept as simple as possible, and that was a welcome change. Performance wise, the chemistry between Neo and Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss) was real and seemed genuine. Seeing one of pop-cultures favourite couples finally reunited was satisfying, after all these years. It was this love story that drove the narrative forward, and that was always apparent. This helped to give the film its genuine-human interest theme, and romantic aspect, which it needed. Also, a good many of the original references of The Matrix were smartly tied in, which worked well.
We’ll state outright, having already hinted at it: there should have been no sequels to The Matrix. The Matrix Resurrections left things pretty much as they were following the end of The Matrix. So, things were brought full circle, or at least you would hope so. None of the sequels added anything to the original; the exact opposite is true, unfortunately. As a fourth sequel, and especially considering how long has passed, The Matrix Resurrections did as good a job as it could have hoped to. The job of the film was to bring Neo ad Trinity together, which it managed to. There were some rather cumbersome explanations as plot devices, which felt a little deux ex machina. However, things ended with the human condition ultimately prevailing. This should definitely be the last Matrix film we see.
The Matrix Resurrections is still in cinemas now.