December 22nd, 2021
MOVIE: THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS
STARRING: KEANU REEVES, CARRIE-ANNE MOSS, JESSICA HENWICK, YAHYA ADBUL-MATEEN II
DIRECTED BY: LANA WACHOWSKI
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
How do you go back into The Matrix after 18 years? After the technology has changed or the way an audience has viewed the series, which many have obsessed over what it all meant, and ultimately became an iconic example of sci-fi cinema in the 21st century. How do you try that again? I think it starts with having the Wachowski sisters involved, Lana and Lilly, the original writing and directing team of the trilogy, not working together in the same capacity- Lana is the only credited writer/director- but still working within the vision of the original team, not allowing for the corporate world to take full control of the vision. With The Matrix Resurrections, it’s the logical step for the next installment, a hyper-meta production, filled with tense action sequences, and palpable chemistry between Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss). What has been reborn in The Matrix Resurrection is the storytelling, a deep dive into the mind behind technology of the world today, and a chance for our hero Neo to make his way back to defeat the dreaded machines. What was once thought as a sacrifice for all, has now been brought back, and we are in a better world when we can live in The Matrix.
The first Matrix dealt with landline telephones and dial-up, but The Matrix Revolutions dug deeper into a theological side, with themes about creators and saviors, heaven and hell. Which is why it makes sense that Resurrections starts at the beginning, where we meet Bugs (Jessica Henwick), a runner that finds herself chased by a collection of agents, but they are actually hunting Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) from the past, it becomes revealed that this is not reality, but a part of a video game, a popular player game called The Matrix, created by none other than Mr. Anderson (Reeves). When a new game is wanted from his boss (Jonathan Groff), it’s around this time when Anderson’s mind begins to play tricks on him, his own therapist (Neil Patrick Harris) playing a puppet master, hiding the true reality, but with the help of Bugs, and a new version of Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), the goal becomes to get Neo back to Zion, to discover the sacrifices he made in the name of love.
The fascinating thing about the Matrix series is how it’s steeped into a different realm of technology as part of the plot, often staying ahead of the curve, but creating a universe where martial arts meets cyber-punk meets thrilling action. Although this is easily the most subdued of the Matrix movies, it’s by far the most intelligent, unafraid to dig into the meta reality of what it means to create a fourth installment, to bring back beloved characters, and make it all make sense for fans. Yes, there are a handful of throwbacks to the first trilogy, characters of the past reprising their roles, and choices to be made between a red or a blue pill, but The Matrix Resurrections is using the technology of today and it works better. Neo has been living in this world, often seeing a woman at a coffee shop that looks like Trinity, and putting his subconscious thoughts into his work. He’s been asleep, unaware of his past, and now he slowly starts to realize his reality is not reality at all.
I would call Resurrections a book ended movie, worthy of multiple viewings, and will undoubtedly be appreciated more in time. I say bookended because the opening sequence of Bugs being chased through buildings and climbing on roofs is thrilling, with impeccable images created by cinematographers Daniele Massaccesi and John Toll, and a thumping new score by Tom Tykwer and Johnny Klimek. The middle section digs into the meta aspect and takes us back to Zion, which becomes a bit more wordy, explanatory of where the universe has been, and then closes the sandwich with the thrilling climax. There are a few brief moments of Keanu doing his skillful fighting, waving his hand like a ballet dancer in black, and reminding us why we loved The Matrix movies to begin with.
I wouldn’t call The Matrix Resurrections a perfect installment, but considering the pressures, the length of time between movies, and the fact that both Moss and Reeves seem to only get sexier and younger, makes Resurrection an excellent new restart. Similar to movies such as Wes Craven’s New Nightmare or Star Wars: The Last Jedi, this is a self aware Matrix movie, unafraid to break the mythology into pieces, and build it back together in the artist’s own vision. That’s where the praise belongs to Lana Wachowski, clearly inspired by films such as Lamberto Bava’s Demons, Inception, and following in the footsteps of what Craven did with the Scream series. This is the right Matrix movie for today and if it’s the start of a new trilogy, the reality is that it will only get better from here. The Matrix Resurrections hooks us back up to an alternate world and it once again becomes a beautiful science fiction escape.
THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS IS PLAYING IN THEATERS DECEMBER 22ND, 2021
Written by: Leo Brady