Movie Review: The Matrix: Resurrections (2021)

Released in 2021, The Matrix: Resurrections is the fourth entry in the series of sci-fi/action films, and the first film since 2003. The film is directed by Lana Wachowski, half of the original directing duo, and sees the return of Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, who are joined by series newcomers Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. Thomas Anderson (Reeves) is a video game developer working New York City under his boss (Groff), though Anderson suffers from psychotic delusions causing him to see a therapist (Harris). When a hacker, Bugs (Henwick) claims to know details that Anderson believes to be in his mind, Bugs brings Neo to a man who may be able to help them both – a man calling himself Morpheus (Abdul-Mateen).

+ Reeves, Groff and Henwick are all good in their own ways but the real standout is Neil Patrick Harris. It is fair to say that without Reeves’ original Matrix role, he would not be the John Wick action star he is now, but he was easily able to slip back into the frankly somewhat pathetic role he rose to stardom in. I like Henwick in most of what she’s in (and she’s easy on the eyes, even with an unappealing hair cut) and Groff toes that line between gorgeous and slimy in a way not many can. As mentioned, it is the animated and charming Neil Patrick Harris that really steals the show acting across from Reeves
+ the first hour or so is very compelling, as the film asks many questions and leaves a breadcrumb of answers to keep you thinking, guessing, and asking yourself ‘what if’. This loses steam (see below) but that can’t take away from the excitement that builds in the first half
+ there is some fun meta stuff about there being a Matrix sequel so long after the original trilogy, and the reason for those scenes of the first movie being played in the trailer actually does (attempts to) make sense. Whether you like the reason or not is a different story, but I didn’t mind it
+ this sort of feels like a DC Comics “Elseworlds” spin off, as if a new director took the characters and did a ‘imagine if this detail changed’ story, rather than a proper sequel. That’s not a bad thing in my mind, and truthfully it could almost explain some of the more frustrating parts of the film

– I’ll be straight with you, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II’s take on Morpheus feels like a bad parody of Morpheus, barely a step about a porn parody. There are even jokes/references to the fact that Lawrence Fishburne was so hammy and over the top, but I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: just because you make fun of something in your movie doesn’t immediately excuse you for doing it in the first place
– the slow motion, bullet-time stuff from the first movie in particular was parodied to such a huge degree that seeing the same early 2000’s stuff done in earnest here is almost a little bit cringe-worthy. Between John Wick, The Raid and The Bourne series, action movies have improved to allow for more clear and readable martial arts. Using 2000s bullet time and 2010 camera cutting makes for unintelligible garbage. Maybe that’s a bit harsh, but none of the action scenes were nearly as good as the original series, nor were they as engrossing as the story beats from the first half of this movie
– as mentioned above, the second half of the film is not very good and conflicts with the first half, to the point where I’d have thought this was two film scripts jammed together. Not only does the plot change, but the references to the original trilogy become more explicit, and none of them landed for me at all
– one particular character returns from the original films, and it is some of the worst acting, worst make up and worst plot garbage I have ever dealt with

> I hesitate to even write this, but Lana Wachowski’s personal journey since the release of the original trilogy is something that many (myself included) thought might overtake the sci-fi stuff presented in those movies. That is not the case here, and any references to it are done subtly or in a way that makes sense (such as one character not caring for the ‘binary nature of code’ if you catch the obvious allusion)

Should you see this film: So here’s the deal. I went into this expecting to cringe and laugh at some horrible filmmaking, and that is just not the case. It starts good, and ends really poorly, but overall it’s just fine. Fans of the first film have already had two horrendous sequels, and I would say that this was better than those, but obviously cannot meet the lofty standards of the original.

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