The Matrix Resurrections (2021) Review

 The Matrix Resurrections (2021) Review

A Meta Yet Magnificent Instalment 

Nobody can be told what The Matrix is, you have to see it for yourself…*Ahem* apologies, I had to quote Morpheus to properly start this article. So, you’ve all heard of The Matrix right? A film surrounding a world programmed by machines using humans as living to triple-A batteries etc pretty grim stuff, and yet one of the best films in cinema history. And so inevitably, in 2021 there’s a fourth instalment, which some argue if it was ever needed or not – The Matrix Resurrections. As the title suggests, some of the heroes we considered dead in the original franchise, return! More CGI, more martial arts, more guns, more…. Matrix-ness. Was any of it really necessary? Let’s find out together! 

The Plot

Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is a game designer. Twenty years ago, his video game about a digital world acting as an anaesthetic to hide the truth about human existence was a big hit. Since then his life has been marred by mental illness, suicide attempts and an inability to accept his world as being real. He is approached by Bugs (Jessica Henwick) who tries to convince Neo that his instincts are right and he’s back in the simulation, but if the events of “The Matrix” were, in fact, real – how is Neo still alive?

The story has its uniqueness, alongside its well know themes of transition and choice, its meta self-awareness (which becomes a little much at times), and of course, a bit of clarity. The cinematography is, well, cinematic – it really pays homage to the original whilst also staying neat and consistent, in addition to the editing which really comes out to play during action and montages. The soundtrack and majority of the sounds in this movie are crisp and audibly pleasing.

Be aware, this movie does take us for a ride down memory lane and sometimes relies on the nostalgia a bit too much (which I’ll mention more on later). The film revisits all the things we liked, loved and hated about the trilogy, shoehorning all that stuff into what it should have been from the start. The meta way this film is dealing with the previous ones is going to govern how you feel about this film from the start (for me, I quite liked it – I love old and new mixing together). I was worried about how they were going to tie the plot back into something that makes sense, but Wachowski does a good job of making sure everything is well connected.

There’s a couple of reasonably good action scenes, not as many as one may of liked, but enough to satisfy nonetheless. The main one – a bike chase through the streets of San Francisco – is really well done and “swarm mode”, a reference to horde modes that various games have now, was clever if occasionally a little horrific (seeing binary code in the eyes of unsuspecting citizens of the Matrix is nightmare fuel to say the least). Maybe the action wasn’t the major part like in Reloaded or Revolution, but it still entertained me because of the big scale as well as creativity, and of course, “Guns, Lots and Lots of Guns”.

The Characters

Seeing Keanu Reeves return to what is arguably his most iconic role after almost twenty years is quite surreal: It’s like watching a beloved superhero step back into the spotlight after years of hiding, getting suited up in their trademark costume, to save the world and kick some ass one last time. Reeves looks much younger than his actual age, so he’s still pretty convincing when we see him bust out some martial arts (“I know Kung-Fu!”) and dodge bullets (“dodge this!”) with his enemies. Keanu Reeves gives an incredible lead performance with plenty of charm and is once again able to anchor the film’s more surreal and pretentious moments.

It’s especially nice to have Carrie-Anne Moss return to her role as Trinity again – it just wouldn’t be the same without her. Trinity was always an important ally for Neo and the way they made her even more crucial to the film is great, plus with a pretty interesting development at the end, it’s safe to say Trinity isn’t done. Carrie-Anne Moss is great and has strong chemistry with Keanu.

The new characters on the other hand were way more alive and exciting, Neil Patrick Harris and Jonathan Groff both managed to fit in the roles left by another actor perfectly and bring them to a whole new level of greatness and outshone, in a way, lead characters, with the addition of new characters like Jessica Henwick ‘s character, Bugs, a character for the newer generation to relate to in a way.

The Old and The New 

Put aside all of the action, suspense, mind-warping twists and visuals, and the film still has a lot more to offer. The return of Captain Naomi felt like a great call-back to the original films, and though 60 years of ageing has changed her appearance, she still is as fierce and determined as ever. Trinity gaining powers like Neo by the end of the film was certainly an interesting decision made by Wachowski, but it makes sense with how the narrative between the two of them play out in this film. 

Reviving Neo and Trinity at first feels like a cash-grab (knowing Warner Brothers, it most likely is) but after learning the heartfelt story of Lana Wachowski and how this film is her coping with her parent’s unfortunate fates, it suddenly becomes personal, and their portrayal in this film feels more emotive. Human-like, and as ironic as it is, what better way to reintroduce characters in a franchise about machines controlling humans than making the characters actually express themselves? It’s genius! 

The new version of The Matrix seems cleaner and glossy, compared to the green tainted and gloomy world of the original. Not only is this a great way to show change, but it shows clearly how advanced machines technology has come. Speaking of which, the machine city and the sentinels are still menacing as hell – and I’m all here for it. The movie does have a lot of references to the previous movies, but you don’t need to re-watch them as long as you remember the basics, since most of the time the important scenes are just shown in the flashbacks, including scenes like Morpheus telling Neo what The Matrix is, Trinity’s opening scene fight with the cops, and even the iconic scene where Neo bends backwards to dodge Agent Smith’s bullets (slow-mo noises intensify!)

A Few Downsides

With every Matrix movie, there are little flaws that come with them, and this movie certainly had quite a few. One thing I noticed, especially with the start of the movie, was how meta it was. Sure, The Matrix ideology itself is very meta, but with mentions of the Warner Brother’s IP (as if making the movie isn’t another recognition), one of the characters literally being named “Bugs” as in Bugs Bunny (What’s up, Doc?). Also, the original Matrix trilogy being advertised as a video game (which I slowly opened up to the idea, but still, very covenant and cheesy I guess?) and of course, characters requoting stuff from the original films. It all felt very inorganic, which is ironic for a world made by machines, but still, a little too hip and Gen-Z for my taste.

As much as I love Agent Smith (Mr Anderson!) it was a shame that he didn’t appear as much during the film. And though it’s understandably that Hugo Weaving has scheduling issues to return, it would’ve been nice to have at least some version of him in this movie. Same with Morpheus, with Laurence Fishbourne not returning, for reasons unknown – though the way they introduce Morpheus back in this film is clever which I will admit. Wasted potential with certain characters includes the analyst (who despite being a lot more of a satirical chaotic villain compared to the calmer and stricter Artefact from the original, doesn’t feel that much of a threat), and the Frenchman (which we get a little glimpse of him in his racked, exile form).

My Overall Thoughts on The Matrix Resurrections

Despite the meta-ness of this movie that does get a little strong at certain points, The Matrix Resurrections is a pretty decent restart to a pretty well-cemented trilogy. With some well-explained points, a good mix of action and theory, and an expansion on the machine vs human conflicts, this movie is definitely a starting point.

I had a blast with this movie if I’m honest. At first, I thought I might actually hate this one, but my mind certainly changed after watching. This movie but found a cheeky and brilliant way to connect to the original trilogy and I love it. It took a while to completely figure out what’s going on, but it got me hooked and excited. There’s plenty of fun stuff to be had, cringeworthy elements, as well as rehashes that feel like rehashes, rehashes that feel somewhat unique and new.

Looking for more film reviews? Why not have a read of my 50th Article Special, where I list my top-rated films of 2021, from films like Cruella to Halloween Kills (massive genre gaps I know – it’s nice to enjoy different things!). And for those of you who want something a little more specific, make sure to read my last review on the film House of Gucci, a film about, well, Gucci! Need I say more?

And if you enjoy reading my articles (which I hope you do) you can support me by buying me a coffee on kofi!

Andrew Campbell

A book worm and film enthusiast, looking for more ways to make an impact within the creative industry. Andrew has gained experience through copywriting, blog writing, social media marketing and developing video trailers.

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