REVIEW: The Matrix Resurrections

 Set sixty years after the events of The Matrix trilogy, The Matrix Resurrections brings audiences back into this world that was created by the Wachowski sisters, Lana and Lilly.  The original film was an undeniable game changer for modern cinema, producing ground breaking special effect concepts an aesthetics that dominated other films for over a decade.  The concept, and while people made comparisons to The Terminator, was interesting and managed to feel fresh enough.

The second film, The Matrix Reloaded, was a big let down for me, and I really disliked it.  It would be about fifteen years after release that I would finally see The Matrix Revolutions, the third and final movie in the franchise.  I really didn't like it at all, finding it dull, pretentious, and paced poorly.  Now, having seen The Matrix Resurrections, I can conclude that the only film set in this universe that I like is the very first one.

The Matrix Resurrections begins with a scene incredibly similar to the opening sequence of the original.  The dialogue is all the same, but the actors are different.  It turns out to be some kind of simulation that is run on a loop (at least that's what I understood it to be), and I cannot remember why.  Within this simulation, a new Morpheus is born as a program within The Matrix, and we are introduced to a group of humans that are searching for Neo (Keanu Reeves).

Why do they need to find Neo?  Is he the key to the salvation of human beings?  Nope.  They just want to risk their lives to get him out of The Matrix.  He is a game developer for a video game trilogy called The Matrix, which is essentially the tale of the three films.  Suppressed memories from Neo's past life are the inspiration for the game, as he has flashbacks to events and people from the T-Mobile trilogy.  The game company needs to make a fourth Matrix game, and Warner Bros really wants this game to happen.

Writer and director Lana Wachowski, and the other two writers (David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon) seem to think this is smart and cute.  The self referencing, to me, instills the belief that this film is a cash grab, and just by them referencing it in the script doesn't make it feel less commercially driven.  There is a sequence where the writers of the video game are trying to create the story, and they are constantly mentioning, for some reason, how influential the games were and that they were game changing and messed with people's minds.  

Yes, we get it.  You believe that your movies were the greatest things ever, that their philosophical and political angles were just the best thing to ever hit theatres.  This sequence, in its entirety, is just all about people sitting around and patting their own backs over how great they and their creation was.  If you're like me and didn't think the themes were as mind bending and as greatly executed as those who made the movies, you will feel a little burbble of vomit in the back of your mouth.  Yep, I made up a word just for this very situation.

After Neo is extracted from The Matrix, he wants to get Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss) out as well.  Why?  She seems really happy living in The Matrix.  The answer is ‘because Neo.’  A crew of people disobey direct orders to help Neo, with no reason other than he just wants to do this.  Neither Neo or Trinity actually have a role to play in the grander scheme, and the stakes feel miniscule.  Maybe you could say that the story is simply about love, and sure, that may be it.  But not once did it feel like something people would put their lives on the line for.

The special effects are great, but they aren't anything new from the previous films.  As well, the action sequences weren't as captivating they were in The Matrix.  I've seen that first film probably four times, and each viewing is still exciting with combat sequences that are truly thrilling.  As the series progress, I felt as though the Wachowski's lost sight of what made the original so great and a lot of the action just came across as stuff happening on the screen.  I watched The Matrix Resurrections just last week, and I honestly cannot recall any of those action set pieces. 

Warner Bros has wanted this movie to happen for a while, and it was deeply personal reasons that got Lana Wachowski to return to the franchise after years of her and her sister refusing to do it.  I'm happy that she was able to create something that was personal and assisted in working through the loss of her parents and a friend.  The problem is that in the end this film does feel like a cash grab, and referencing anything doesn't change how it comes across.  It felt self-congratulatory and unnecessary.

Rating - 2 out of 4 stars