Unnecessary. That’s what many painted The Matrix Resurrections prior to the film’s release and the narratives began to swirl as soon as the film was announced. Things like: it’s merely a cash grab taking advantage of Keanu Reeves’ resurgent popularity, it’s just another vapid legacy sequel, why resurrect dead characters and what story is there to tell after an 18 year absence that followed two mediocre sequels? Resurrections has arrived to try to answer these questions.
Nostalgia permeates this movie like maple syrup over pancakes. The opening scene parallels the opening scene of the original film with Trinity’s escape and most of the first and parts of the second act only seem to be self-referential to the prior films in the series. The dialogue makes notes of this nature while walking the line between making fun of the film and commenting on the surreal nature of the matrix. One of the standout scenes has to be what I call “The Groundhog Day” sequence where Neo seems to be living the same day over and over again with the same lines of dialogue from his colleagues while pointing out the symbolism of the original film. It’s a meta moment that savvy viewers will recognize as many fans and critics have tried to parse out the true allegory of the original 1999 film.
Somehow, in spite of their supposed deaths in Revolutions, Neo and Trinity are alive with the former becoming a renowned game designer using his past experiences as templates for his games and the latter getting married and having children. While Reeves and Moss are back for this fourth film, what’s noticeably absent is the presence of Laurence Fishburne who is replaced by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and not even in human form. This version of Morpheus exists only as a program within the matrix but is able to have a simulated presence in the real world thanks to alliances formed between humans and machines following the peace Neo created following the original trilogy. It is disappointing to learn of Morpheus’ unceremonious passing in the real world as Neo finds himself with only fans instead of allies in this new era.
While the long monologues serving as exposition dumps are gone, what replaces them is more of a lore dump. In the real world, over 60 years have passed since the end of Revolutions. Zion is gone alone 99% of the original characters except for Niobe—who now leads the new community of Io along with older survivors and several machines who have joined the humans. The action scenes are meandering at times and lack the same speed and excitement of those from past films and there seems to be an over reliance on wire and visual effects than the realism that made the original film feel timeless.
While the film’s plot is easier to follow along with than Reloaded or Revolutions, it doesn’t feel like the story that should’ve brought back Neo and Trinity. Perhaps if there were more films with the main characters prior to Reloaded and Revolutions we wouldn’t have to spend so much time reacquainting ourselves with our two heroes. There’s also a deluge of new characters but we don’t get to know as the film is focused solely on reuniting Neo and Trinity.
All in all, Resurrections is a solid film. The self-referential nature only lasts through the first act but the repeated nostalgia could’ve stopped earlier than the climax and feels like we’re just being bombarded with the fact that this is a fourth Matrix film. It is rewarded to see familiar faces return to beloved characters but the unceremonious deaths of others feel bittersweet. Couple that with a large dump force the viewer to play catch up with the plot. The humor feels misplaced as times as more emphasis should have been placed on the action or the inclusion of Smith as the primary villain.
VERDICT: 3 blue pills out of 5