The Matrix Resurrections Movie Review: An underwhelming deja vu drowned in self-awareness
Lana Wachowski’s fourth film in The Matrix franchise cares more about being ‘right’ than justifying its existence
'The Matrix Trilogy' had a nice ring to it. It sounded complete, and more importantly, it was complete. So, yes, I did wonder what necessitated a fourth film. Why fix what ain’t broke? Lana Wachowski, however, sees quite a few things being broken. For one, she seems to have a problem with the very idea of The One. The Matrix Resurrections, in fact, feels like a self-analysis of the trilogy. It is a “second chance” to right the wrongs (or what she perceives to be wrong anyway) with the seminal work of the Wachowskis. However, at the cost of being self-aware, the film loses sight of offering justification for its existence. It does a great job with the meta-jokes, but you don't see the same enthusiasm when it comes to answering the bigger questions.
Direction: Lana Wachowski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jessica Henwick, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
The first one is: Why did the Machines ‘resurrect’ Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss)? This was the biggie, ever since the fourth part was announced. To jog your memory, The Matrix Revolutions ended with Neo and Trinity sacrificing themselves to end the war between the Machines and humans. Neo strikes a truce with the Machines. He stops Smith for the Machines, and in return, brings peace to humanity and the city of Zion. We last see an unconscious body of Neo dragged away by a machine. So, why let him come back? Why bring back Trinity? We do get an answer, but it is a bit of a stretch. That’s among the reasons this new addition to the franchise doesn’t feel as organic as its predecessors. While the trilogy dealt with real conflicts, in this new addition, the magnitude of the problems doesn't bother us. It seems like there is nothing really at stake here.
In Resurrections, we see Neo (aka), Thomas Anderson, being a world-famous game designer who has made a ground-breaking video game series called The Matrix. His boss Smith (Jonathan Groff) now wants him to do the fourth part as Warner Bros has ordered them to do so (wink, wink). As he reluctantly sets to work on it, something seems amiss with his reality. There's also the fatal attraction towards a married woman named Tiffany (Carie Anne-Moss) he sees at a neighbourhood cafe. We also have a new Morpheus played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. Let's just say that a major portion of the Resurrection is simply a deja vu of The Matrix (1999), but that’s also the best part of this film. The meta humour is delicious in these portions, with Lana reflecting on the trilogy with a sarcastic perspective that almost makes you feel she is not taking things too seriously. I was particularly amused and shocked to see how The Merovingian (Lambert Wilson) and Xiles, formidable forces in Reloaded and Revolutions, get used just for a stunt sequence and a few great laughs. It is also weirdly hilarious to see Merv bay for a spin-off. Even the new Smith here gets exploited for some dose of nostalgia and as a deus ex machine.
The CGI sequences are incredible, and that's no surprise really. If The Wachowskis could pull off The Matrix in 1999... Yet, the violence and the stunts here seem restrained. The fight sequences of the trilogy are still a pop culture phenomenon, but let's remember that Lana Wachowski is who made Netflix’s Sense 8, in which a line goes, “Violence has a gender.”
Perhaps, the rabbit hole took us to a different place this time, one that we didn’t quite expect. Possible disappointments with this film stems mainly from our expectations based on the previous films. Yes, there is hardly anything groundbreaking here, including in the film’s gender politics. And yet, it's also a film that remembers its fandom, with all its easter eggs and callbacks. After three decades, The Matrix (1999) and subsequent films remain fresh. I'll go out on a limb here and predict that that might not quite happen for this fourth film.