22nd Dec2021

‘The Matrix Resurrections’ Review

by Matthew Turner

Stars: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Jada Pinkett Smith, Christina Ricci | Written by Lana Wachowski, David Mitchell, Aleksandar Hemon | Directed by Lana Wachowski

Neo and Trinity are reunited in this fourth instalment of the Matrix saga, set twenty years after the events of 2003’s The Matrix Revolutions. Directed by Lana Wachowski, it has fun performances and the occasional good moment but is ultimately let down by a confusing script, chaotic direction and a general sense of pointlessness.

The film begins in intriguing fashion, introducing a new set of characters that includes Jessica Henwick (the best thing about Iron Fist) as Bugs, a blue-haired resistance fighter. After evading some gun-toting agents, she recruits a new Morpheus (Candyman‘s Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and together they track down Neo (Keanu Reeves) and attempt to persuade him to rejoin the fight against the controllers of the Matrix.

However, that proves easier said than done, as Neo is living a peaceful life in San Francisco as Thomas Anderson, the world famous games designer behind the successful Matrix video game trilogy. Believing his life as Neo to be the result of hallucinations, he seeks help from his therapist (Neal Patrick Harris), who keeps him on a steady diet of blue pills. However, he’s drawn to a woman named Tiffany (Carrie-Anne Moss), who looks exactly like Trinity, except she has no idea who he is, and worse, is married to a boor named Chad (John Wick fight co-ordinator Chad Stahelski) and has two kids.

The Matrix Resurrections has a lot of fun in the opening section, with an enjoyable set of on-the-nose meta-jokes about having to make a sequel to the Matrix video games because parent company Warner Bros are demanding one. However, those jokes end up backfiring in a rather spectacular way, because Thomas’ colleagues are all discussing what would make a great Matrix sequel (an idea as good as “bullet time”, etc) and the film pointedly fails to deliver on any of their suggestions.

On that note, the biggest problem with The Matrix Resurrections is that none of it comes close to replicating the joys of the original movie – the fight scenes are poorly executed, there’s only really one half-decent action sequence (a motorbike chase) and all the twists and turns now have a distinct seen-it-all-before quality. The video game focus group insist early on that a Matrix sequel should “really eff with your head”, and that just doesn’t happen here, at least not in a good way.

Meta jokes aside, the script is equally disappointing. There’s a lot of po-faced stuff about free will, destiny and the need to escape your programming (wake up, sheeple, etc), but it just ends up sounding either pretentious or patronising or both and never connects on an emotional level.

On the plus side, the performances are very enjoyable. It is a genuine treat to see Reeves and Moss back as Neo and Trinity (if anything, both have only gotten hotter with age) and Henwick and Abdul-Mateen are both terrific as Bugs and New Morpheus. Similarly, Jonathan Groff is great fun as Smith (replacing Hugo Weaving), while Harris is clearly enjoying himself as the therapist and there are a number of fan-pleasing appearances by actors from the previous movies, the highlight of which is a gloriously deranged, hilariously nonsensical cameo from Lambert Wilson as The Merovingian, in what is surely another meta joke.

In short, it’s extremely frustrating that a film so self-aware could also be so blind to its own shortcomings. Still, it will definitely make you want to revisit the original movie and that can only be a good thing.

** 2/5

The Matrix Resurrections is in cinemas now.


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