The Matrix Resurrections is a film I never thought would see take shape. The Matrix was a film series I loved back in the 90s and early 2000s. It pushed the boundaries of filmmaking and delivered a concept that has changed the way films have been made ever since. So, when there were rumblings about a new Matrix film, I was excited.
Keanu Reeves stepping back into the shoes of Neo was something that I did not think possible, as exciting as it was. Now, having seen The Matrix Resurrections, I am more excited by the universe of the films than ever before. Despite some awkward effects and some dangling plot threads, this film shows that The Matrix still has plenty of ideas to explore, even decades after the first film hit theatres.
The Matrix Resurrections wastes no time introducing the universe of its characters. Jumping into a scene reminiscent of the first movie’s opening minutes. With new characters now present, what was a very familiar scene manages to surprise in new and unexpected ways. It quickly works as a remix of classic moments, setting the stage and concept for the rest of the film.
It is in these moments that we meet our new band of characters. Bugs (Jessica Henwick), a new entry in the Matrix saga, comes across the scenes that all people who have escaped the confines of the virtual world know all too well—the moment when Trinity finds Neo and escapes agents. But she quickly notices small errors in the proceedings and wants to know more. It is here when she meets the new Morpheus/Agent Smith (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), an AI that blends people into new synthetic intelligence.
The two quickly work to reach out to Neo and awaken what they once thought was long dead. The only issue is Thomas Anderson is trapped in a new version of the Matrix, leaving him wondering what is truly real. In this world, The Matrix is just a video game, and he is the designer. He believes he has suffered a break and is now seeing a therapist (Neil Patrick Harris) to try and piece his life back together and keep it that way.
To say anything more, would be spoiling some of the best moments of the film. The journey of Neo rediscovering what is real and relearning all the aspects that made the universe so exciting is a sight to behold. Lana Wachowski and the entire film team craft a believable concept many of us can sympathize with. The question of one’s own sanity is a tricky one, and one they use to great effect.
The film looks to pick up where the past three films left off, and manages, for the most part, to build on what came before, while offering new insights into the world, the characters, and the AI that runs everything. The choice to bring in new characters and an ever-changing future, means the fish out of water story we first experienced back in 1999 feels fresh and new this time around, offering enough new to keep longtime fans invested, while never feeling like a tired retelling of events.
“The cast is strong, bringing new blood to The Matrix world.”
The cast is strong, bringing new blood to The Matrix world. While the staples of the series make a return, such as Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), and Neo, the new characters all add a different take to the world, the people in it, and why they must still fight. The new landscape of the fight between the robots and humans also feels like a good evolution from what was presented in past films, while delivering enough to keep the story moving forward.
If I had any gripes, it would be about the effects. While The Matrix was a landmark film that pushed filmmaking and digital imagery, The Matrix Resurrections feels dated in some regards. It is hard to tell if that is intentional or not, but it did take me out of the action. The rubbery cartoons of the last two movies are gone, but with so much relying on past knowledge, there is a fair amount of the movie devoted to showing past scenes, reminding the audience why it was so exciting.
The major battles are where the visual issues are most noticeable. Let me be clear, this is a visually amazing movie at times, and manages to do some fantastical things with camera work, digital effects and playing with reality, but for some reason the fights have never looked more like a video game, and I don’t mean that in a good way.
“The Matrix Resurrection is a movie built for the big screen…”
That all being said, The Matrix Resurrections is a movie built for the big screen, with it feeling as much like a movie as an experience. From the booming sounds of gunfire to the sublime visual shots that help you suspend your disbelief; this is a film made to be seen on the biggest screen possible. While the world currently does not make that easy, it is something that can’t be neglected, especially if you love some impact and spectacle with your blockbuster.
Even with these minor gripes, The Matrix Resurrections feels like a return to form for the series. The story works to reestablish the world, while being at the right level of meta, pushing the universe forward in many meaningful ways. Not every new concept works, with many seemingly thrown in at the last minute to make the universe deeper, but there is enough to like here, so it never drags the story, or the enjoyment of the movie down.
The Matrix Resurrections feels like revisiting an old friend. While many things have changed, the core of what you loved remains intact and better than ever. This is a movie that fans of the franchise need to experience, with it bringing a new take on the series and characters while never forgetting the past. The Matrix Resurrections is the film 2021 needed, and it delivered in all the ways it needed to.