Here’s our review for “The Matrix Resurrections,” which serves as a direct sequel to the original trilogy ending in 2003…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
It’s almost impossible to state the impact that “The Matrix” had on the science-fiction genre when the film was first released in 1999.
The original film was visionary in both story and scope not to mention the cutting edge special effects that became an industry standard after watching Keanu Reeves bend in slow motion while ducking and dodging bullets coming for every part of his body.
While the plot was similar to past films — “The Terminator” certainly comes to mind — the creativity with which this particular narrative was crafted was unlike anything that came before it. In a world where the machines had already won the war and taken over, humanity learned how to fight back by taking the fight directly to the machines within the computer program they used to enslave humans in the first place.
The key to winning the war came down to finding ‘The One” — the person who could transcend between man and machine, to see through the code created to keep human beings subdued and serving as batteries to power the world. That person was ultimately a man named Neo, who required a whole lot of education before he finally exerted the kind of power that was expected of him all along as he fought back against the programming and started a revolution against the machines.
Two sequels followed but neither one captured the imaginations of audiences like the first — and the third movie in the series titled “The Matrix: Revolutions” was a disappointing end to what was supposed to be the best sci-fi epic since the original “Star Wars” trilogy.
Fast forward 18 years and Lana Wachowski — one half of the creative team behind the original films — returned with an idea to revive the franchise with the now released “The Matrix: Resurrections,” which carries on the story from the original films while also serving as a reboot of sorts with a story set many years into the future after the “The Matrix: Revolutions” ended.
While the announcement surrounding this particular project was celebrated, especially after learning original cast members Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss would be returning, the actual delivery came up well short from actually delivering anything that stands remotely close to the original.
There’s not much of anything to celebrate with this reboot outside of seeing Reeves and Moss back in their familiar roles, which admittedly feels good, but unfortunately they weren’t given much to work with in terms of an actual plot because the movie spends about an hour of the 2 hour and 28 minute run time just trying to explain everything to you.
Rather than reviving a long dead property, “The Matrix Resurrections” feels like a film with tired effects, bad slow motion and a story that makes you wish you took the blue pill and just watched the first one instead.
With that said, let’s get to our full review for “The Matrix: Resurrections”…
When the first trailer for this film debuted, “The Matrix Resurrections” felt like the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” of “Matrix” movies in that it appeared to be an eerily similar plot to the original film with just enough tweaks and changes to still count as a sequel.
Well it turns out those instincts were right on the money.
When “The Matrix: Resurrections” opens, a revolutionary named Bugs is watching a sequence play out that’s almost identical to an early scene in the original “Matrix” where a group of agents are hunting down a wanted criminal who happens to be a woman dressed in tight latex, who dispatches all of the cops in a brutal beatdown. Bugs is watching because she knows this is a carbon copy from the past but she’s there because she is convinced that this will lead her back to Neo — the one true savior for humanity, who supposedly sacrificed himself to broker a peace treaty with the machines in the third film back in 2003.
As for Neo, he’s once again known as Thomas Anderson except this time around he’s a famous game programmer, who created a hugely popular series called “The Matrix” that has become a worldwide hit. Now as he’s working on another project, Mr. Anderson is pulled back into “The Matrix” because the studio behind the game wants a sequel but he’s struggling to face reality right now due to a series of hallucinations that feel so real to him that they almost could be.
Needless to say, Bugs and her team are trying to free Neo from the Matrix once again in order to help him serve as the match that lights a fire for humanity against the machines.
If this sounds familiar, it really should.
ACTING, DIRECTING AND SCRIPT
You know there’s a problem with the script when so much time is devoted to literally explaining to the audience what’s actually going on.
A huge issue with the last two “Matrix” sequels came down to an overcomplicated plot that was ultimately just way too confusing to follow, which left a lot of fans feeling hollow when the third film ended. It wasn’t just confusing — some of the nonsense being uttered just didn’t make much sense at all.
So this time around, Wachowski along with screenwriters David Mitchell and Aleksander Hemon put a whole lot of effort into making sure everything is explained — in brutal detail and somehow it’s still kind of confusing and mind numblingly long in exposition.
While there are definitely a lot of action scenes, which was a backbone of the original trilogy, this sequel is just jam packed with talking and explaining everything in an attempt to better understand the ending of the third film and what this latest movie is supposed to represent.
Now just because the story is bad, the actors within the film do an admirable job when attempting to rescue the writers with really good performances.
The standout performance comes from Jessica Henwick, who many fans will recognize from her past appearance in television series such as Marvel’s “Iron Fist” and “Game of Thrones.” She’s by far the strongest addition to this cast as Bugs — a headstrong and rebellious captain, who isn’t ready to concede her freedom of will to the machines no matter how many peace treaties they broker.
Of course, Reeves and Moss also do a solid job stepping back into the roles they made famous 18 years ago because they are both tremendous actors. Reeves is actually reserved at moments when you might expect him to go over the top but he brings a certain sense of age and wisdom to Neo this time around that wasn’t seen in the past movies.
Sadly, it must be noted that Jada Pinkett Smith returns for this sequel as Niobe — a cast member seen in both of “The Matrix” sequels — and stuck behind a whole lot of really bad makeup, she’s arguably the character least important to this entire film. It’s almost like she was brought back for nostalgia purposes — just like everything else that happens in this movie.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE MOVIE?
That’s a really loaded question and we could be here for a while to answer it.
But for the sake of time, let’s stick to the biggest issues with this film and that once again comes down to a convoluted plot that really goes to great lengths to overcomplicate and then overthink itself throughout the movie. Rather than boil this down to a battle of man versus machine, “The Matrix Resurrections” once again gets lost in lines of code and existential questions that never really get answered.
While this film spends an hour just trying to explain everything to you, let’s boil it down to this comparison: “The Matrix Resurrections” is like trying to read HTML code as if you were building a website except unless you really know what you’re doing, it’s just going to look like a jumbled mess of numbers and letters on a page.
Sadly, it’s unlikely even the best programmer on Earth could make heads or tails of what story is being attempted with this film.
Nostalgia can only take you so far if the plot is poor and the action scenes, while fun at times, are ultimately just rehashed battles from a trilogy that started over 20 years ago. The first “Matrix” was revolutionary — this one is overly repetitive and really just boring.
“The Matrix Resurrections” earns a 1 out of 5 on the Skolnick Scale