"The Matrix Resurrections" stars Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Jada Pickett Smith. Released on December 22, 2021, the film has Neo returning to the Matrix to face a new threat.
The film was directed by Lana Wachowski, who also directed films such as "Bound", "The Matrix", "Speed Racer", and "Jupiter Ascending". It is the fourth installment in the "Matrix" film series. If you're looking for a place to visit during your holiday vacation, I know the one that'll blow your mind. 1999 was a pretty crucial year during that time. It marked an end of a millennium, and plenty of films from that year filled our heads with nostalgia, mainly the one that revolutionized science fiction cinema. That film was "The Matrix", a sci-fi action mind-bender that transports Keanu Reeves into a virtual war between humanity and the machines. Praised for its visuals, action, and influences, the film created a launching point for Reeves and its directors, the Wachowskis. It also spawned two sequels that make up a trilogy, along with an animated anthology film, books, comics, and video games. Following the trilogy's disappointing conclusion in 2003, one of the Wachowskis has returned to the franchise that made them household names with a continuation 18 years in the making. I hope you don't have any holiday plans for this week. "The Matrix" is one of the films that I remember fondly, but I haven't watched it as much as others. While I adore it for its visual achievements and world-building, I just didn't have the energy to revisit it more often. Regardless, I was interested in returning to this virtual universe, mainly because of the involvement of Reeves and Lana Wachowski. With that in mind, let's take the red pill and see if this long-awaited sequel is worth the trip back to the source.
It has been twenty years since the events of "The Matrix Revolutions", and Neo (Reeves) is living his ordinary life under his real identity, Thomas A. Anderson. He's occasionally visited his therapist (Harris) to counteract the hallucinations he encounters with the blue pills. He also meets a woman who appears to be Trinity (Moss), although they don't recognize each other. One day, he encounters a new version of Morpheus (Abdul-Mateen II), who leads Neo to discover that he's inside the Matrix, a virtual world where anything is possible… and more dangerous than before. With a new enemy on the rise, Neo teams up with a group of rebels, including a gunslinger named Bugs (Henwick), to save Trinity from the Matrix. "The Matrix" is the latest classic franchise to be revived with a long-awaited sequel that continues the main story and unites the old characters with some new blood. More importantly, it's packed with plenty of nostalgic elements that remind us why we love the original in the first place. It's a try-and-true formula that's proven to be successful for other sequels like "Jurassic World", the "Star Wars" sequel trilogy, and recently "Ghostbusters: Afterlife", and it's not going away anytime soon. The "Matrix" trilogy is known for combining sci-fi action elements with underlying themes involving religion, mythology, and philosophy. The same applies to "Resurrections", which offers bits of commentary of choice vs. control and, occasionally, franchise revivals. Unfortunately, those themes were sadly overshadowed by its conventional narrative that lacked the energetic and ground-breaking flair of the 1999 classic. But, of course, it wasn't without a few moments that would surely impress several "Matrix" fans, such as its visual style. The Wachowskis are usually known for providing unique visual presentations in the production designs and action sequences, with the prime examples being "The Matrix" and "Speed Racer". So it's no surprise to see that "Resurrections" had a few nifty visuals that capture the grim and imaginative world of the Matrix. Again, they're not going to change the blockbuster world like the original, but for the most part, the visuals in the setting and action looked nice. The fact that Lana Wachowski managed to represent this world without her sister made it even more impressive in my eyes. The film had some of the original cast reprising the roles that made them famous, such as Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss. Their performances as Neo and Trinity, respectively, were as engaging as they were in the previous installments, especially Reeves, who proves that he never lost his Neo mojo. It also featured some fresh faces that play new characters, like Henwick as Bugs and Harris as The Analyst, and characters that the other actors previously portrayed. The prominent examples of the latter are Yahya Abdul-Mateen II replacing Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus and Jonathan Groff as Agent Smith, previously played by Hugo Weaving in the trilogy. Some of the franchise's fans weren't extremely happy with these changes, but I honestly didn't mind them at all since these actors played their roles very well. Jessica Henwick also proved to be a tolerable addition as Bugs, even though she didn't do much to make herself stand out above the new characters. As for its flaws, I think the filmmakers only made the sequel to appease the fans and capitalize on Reeves' recent success with the "John Wick" films. Instead of coming up with a plot that rivals the trilogy, "Resurrections" relied on a screenplay that relies on traditional blockbuster aspects and struggles to balance sci-fi action with its thought-provoking themes. The storyline is a straightforward and trippy rescue mission that's not only surprisingly underwhelming but also unnecessarily overlong. "Resurrections" offered a runtime of two hours and 28 minutes, making this the longest film in the franchise. What made the runtime unbearable for me was its second act. While the first and third acts were somewhat entertaining, I had a difficult time keeping myself awake during the middle part of the film, primarily because of how long it took to keep the plot going and how dull it was. Maybe that's why I didn't revisit the previous films more often? The action scenes were usually one of the best aspects of the franchise regarding its choreography and direction, so I was surprised to see that the fight sequences in "Resurrections" were somehow tame compared to the previous films. They're still enjoyable to watch, but none of them stand out as memorable, extraordinary, or even nail-biting.
Overall, "The Matrix Resurrections" is a grimly gorgeous and underwhelming return to the source that changed the action genre more than 20 years ago. Despite its suitable cast and visual style, the sci-fi action sequel lacked the cleverness and intrigue that made the franchise special in the first place. This was due to its mediocre screenplay, excessive runtime, average direction, and dull second act. This is a long-awaited revival that should give long-time fans what they wanted this holiday season but may not offer much else to make it a triumphant comeback for the iconic sci-fi series. Can we go back to seeing Keanu Reeves in "John Wick", please?