It was over twenty years ago when Keanu Reeves chose the red pill, and took us down a rabbit hole of science fiction intrigue with the Wachowski twins at the helm. After two highly disappointing sequels, it seemed as though the Matrix franchise was riding on the success of its timeless 1999 opener. Reeves and one of the directing duo, Lana Wachowski, will again pick a pill that will take us through a door to the simulated world of The Matrix for the first time since 2003.
The Matrix was inventive, creative, and has remained a staple for the action/sci-fi genre that has stood the test of time. Frustratingly its subsequent sequels have failed to repeat that same success, including this rehash that does little to reinvent, or shall I say… resurrect, this once great concept.
The third instalment seemed to wrap up the trilogy rather perfectly (even if that was the only positive I could take away from it), so for me finding the right story to tell, that will both feel fresh but is at least in tune with what the series once was, is the blend I was hoping for. In many ways, The Matrix: Resurrections achieves exactly that, but it is hidden behind this blanket of overtly meta, fourth wall breaking guff that the entire experience just feels like a parody of itself. There’s even a scene between two of our characters here that feels like a reconstruction of a genuine business meeting between Lana and the WB execs, making it feel as though she never wanted this franchise to come back to begin with. It’s at this point that your eyes most probably would have rolled all the way round to the back of your head, and if I’m being honest, if you manage to keep them there you wouldn’t miss a great deal.
It’s great to see Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss don the black leather and martial art skills once again, and their on screen chemistry is perhaps at its best here. Morpheus has a new model in Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who is one of the more enjoyable inclusions to the movie and Jessica Henwick’s ‘Bugs’ is ultimately the life of this project from the moment she steps onto screen. Both Neil Patrick Harris and Jonathon Goff are sadly unspectacular, not only being given the hardest of shortcomings in terms of script, but the most flimsy and chaotic plot devices that are on show.
The Matrix: Resurrections was one of my most anticipated for this year. Having negative feelings towards the sequels I was hopeful that we would get something more closer to the original. Something that was different, a game-changer that will once again generate cultural phenomenon status that will become a new goliath to the movie making world. Instead we got something that feels more reminiscent of those sequels. A ‘reloaded’ formula if you will, that is unlikely to create a new ‘revolution’.
Not everything here is drivel. That’s what is perhaps most frustrating about this experience. It has the credentials to be bigger and bolder with its execution, but seems to be restrained and focuses too much on what doesn’t really work. Some of that memorable camerawork and directing prowess are still there, and there are moments which resemble the best elements of its opener, but there are too few and far between.
A common theme of these movies is choice. You ultimately have a choice, and it’s yours to make. Allow me to offer you one. You can either take the metaphorical red pill, watch this movie and let it take you into its own wonderland. Or take the blue pill. Leave this franchise behind with the trilogy and accept the closure that this series once had. I guess there is a third choice though, maybe watching this on some sort of pill will give you the existential mind power that is needed to further bolster the experience of this movie. But that I don’t condone.