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The Matrix Resurrections

****
2021

‘…more of a reboot than a sequel, and probably most cohesive movie in the sequence since the first…’

‘Choice is an illusion.’ It’s hard to give away plot points for a film you’ve barely understood, but I guess spoilers apply for those who don’t want their card marked at all; the takeaway is that the fourth Matrix movie is more of a reboot than a sequel, and probably the most cohesive movie in the sequence since the first. When I saw the first movie on opening weekend, I was as impressed as everyone else by the high concept (our reality is not reality) and the huge, kinetic, crowd-pleasing action sequences. But over parts two and three, it became apparent that the makers of the Matrix were more into quasi-religious pretentions, black-leather raves, mad machines, verbose monologues and robot jellyfish. The second time around, it was just about bearable, the third outing not at all. Fortunately, the fourth Matrix chooses to go down a different rabbit-hole…

In an arresting start, Lana Wachowski’s film sees John Anderson (Keanu Reeves) working as a games designer in San Francisco; he’s the author of a successful IP known as The Matrix, and which has provided a successful games trilogy. Warner Brothers force him to consider a fourth Matrix, and send him to focus groups to discuss what made the original Matrix trilogy work, during which he meets Tiffany (Carrie-Anne Moss) in a coffee shop and finds her…familiar. That’s a playful, post-modern start for a film about questioning reality, and the first hour or so, Resurrections gets the right balance of self-aware humour and glitzy, colourful action; an RPG fight on a Tokyo bullet-train has a breezy sense of outrageousness. Things always drop a notch in Matrix films when we slip through the mirror to the robot jellyfish land, and the technobabble monologues start in earnest. But there’s still a couple of spectacular action set–pieces to savour, a brawl in a church and a motorbike to skyscraper finale, and it all feels like an upgrade; as Bugs (Jessica Henwick) says, ‘We don’t have to run to phone-booths anymore.’

Having junked most of the trilogy’s deadweight, some new ingredients click; purists, if they exist, may scoff at recasting Morpheus and Smith, but recasting key actors isn’t against the rules of the Matrix conceit, and Jonathan Groff, like fellow Broadway star Neil Patrick Harris as Anderson’s therapist, has just the right other-worldly quality for such initially inscrutable roles. Reeves is always an ideal centre for this kind of loopy story; he’s eternally cool AF as Neo. And Moss makes something tender of the key role of Trinity, now named Tiffany due to her father being an Audrey Hepburn fan. Such florid details may incense those just here for the guns and ammo, but Resurrections certainly takes the franchise in some fresh directions before coming to a conventional but satisfying climax.

The Matrix offered up a unique sandbox in presenting a realistic, everyday world which was a simulation, a conceit which allowed for action on a fantastic level, and that’s what makes a Matrix film work; even Reloaded has a snazzy car chase and some smart action amongst all the pretentious muck. It may not be rocket science, but The Matrix Resurrections wins at Matrix-ing by keeping the focus on the Matrix itself, returning to the love-story of the first film and revelling in the requisite fantasy action.

The Matrix: Resurrectionsns is out now in cinemas in the UK and UK, and on HBO Max in the US only.

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  1. Strangely enough despite my brain going at warp speed to accommodate all the information and a cast that looked like they’d escaped from an epic, I thought this was a decent enough stab at getting this series back on track. Didn’t find myself checking the time, though did wonder at the stupidity of so many bullets when so many characters could dodge them. Do they never learn sigh. Wonder if for today’s generation Reeves represents John Wick rather than Neo. Assuming box office collapsed in second week in Britain where no HBO to suck away the audience, when word got round that action had been eliminated at the expense of exposition.

    • I think that audience is always front-loaded; the problem with HBO releasing for Home Entertainment in the States is perfect pirate copies arriving worldiwde day of release, whch utterly kills the box office. That is if anyone is still alive after the reams of exposition which the first Matrix film survived, but has hobbled every film since, including this one…

  2. Let’s remake the first film but make it more self-referential and add more humour. Glad it worked for you! I thought it was convoluted, overlong, boring at times, and the tone was all over the place. It looked like it was filmed on an iPhone, which was weird. But what do I know? I’m still necking those blue pills. 😎

    • Convoluted, overlong, boring at times; ah yes, that’ll be a Matrix movie for sure. But yes, no bad idea to just remake the first film with more colour and gags. Didn’t turn out as well as the first, but not a complete travesty like a later Die Hard sequel. It’s a soft four, I’ll admit, but the first hour in particular engaged me with its post-modern riffing. I do get that it makes people mad, but I like that messing with reality…

      • Not mad, just disappointed. But that’s just me. Yes, I was into the first third of it. I enjoyed seeing Keanu as “Tom” slowly losing his grip on reality. I even liked new character “Bugs”, controversial, right?! I thought the actress gave a nice, sweet performance. But I almost drifted off during the middle. Maybe it’s an age thing! lol

        Thanks, mate and Best Wishes for the festive season.

        • Same to you! And yes, I was drifting off in the middle too, which was a shame because I was dusting off superlatives after the first 50. The best part of any Matrix movie is waking up and out of the dream, and that’s what we got. Then we went to jelly-fish land and it all falls apart as usual, but there was more good bits than in any of the sequels. And Bugs WAS cool, I thought…

    • …there’s no answer to that, as Eric used to say. Having seen it twice yesterday, I can confirm it’s a mental film…

    • Great to hear this! While I thought there were some wrong turns and dull patches, it WAs a proper Matrix film and was well worth two watches so far!

  3. The fact that you’re not raving about it tells me all I need to know.
    I’ll watch this at some point but my hopes for a movie that thrilled me like the original Matrix have been set aside. My expectations now are hoping to just be entertained :-/

    But the question we all really want to know the answer to is this:
    In a fight, who would win:
    1) John Lane
    2) Neo
    3) John Wick

    Discuss!

  4. Not really looking forward to this. In part because of the direction the trilogy took, but also because I feel like the time for it has passed, just like it had for Bill and Ted. Can Hollywood let any IP just RIP?

    • ‘Stories never end…’ is a line here, and if nothing else, this works as a corrective and a riposte to the diminishing returns of the original film…

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