Eighteen years after The Matrix movie series seemingly came to an end with the release of 2003’s The Matrix Revolutions, the mind-bending franchise is back with The Matrix Resurrections. The film – which is playing in UK cinemas from today – is the latest instalment in the sci-fi series, and ushers in more wire-work, more kung-fu, and more head-scratching plot details for audiences to wrestle with.
Directed by Lana Wachowski, The Matrix Resurrections stars Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jonathan Groff and Neil Patrick Harris. The movie is set decades on from where we last left off, with lead character Neo once again finding himself questioning reality.
In this movie, Neo is back in the guise of Thomas Anderson – his original alias in 1999’s The Matrix. Only now he is a successful computer games developer, who has become known for creating a popular series of games called The Matrix Trilogy.
Although Anderson created these games a while back, The Matrix Trilogy’s publisher, Warner Bros., is keen for him to create a sequel. This is something which will take a fair bit of time, because the original games were such a hit, but regardless of this, he sets to work on a follow-up.
However, despite his best efforts to brainstorm ideas for the game, his thoughts are continually being interrupted by flashes in his mind – visions of people and situations. They all seem rather familiar to him, but he doesn’t quite know why.
Is he suffering from stress or is something else going on? And more importantly, why does life not feel quite real all of a sudden?
The answers are soon unveiled to Thomas Anderson as he discovers all is not what it seems. He is no mere games developer and The Matrix Trilogy is far from a game – it is something he once experienced, in a former life.
For those keeping track, The Matrix movie series has so far produced five films, including the four previous entries: The Matrix (1999), The Animatrix (2003), The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003). If you’ve not watched any of the above, you may want to catch up before viewing The Matrix Resurrections, as this latest instalment is a direct sequel.
This isn’t a remake or a reboot, The Matrix Resurrections is a continuation of the story. There is just enough exposition to fill newcomers in on some of the key details about what has come before, but you are best approaching it armed with knowledge of those other films.
Of course, this is only something I would advise if you are genuinely invested in The Matrix movie series, because if you have not seen the previous entries, or you’re not all too fussed about The Matrix in general, you may want to skip this movie. The Matrix Resurrections is a competently made picture, which certainly works on a technical level and is sure to grab the attention of die-hard fans, but for anyone else, this is unimpressive stuff.
The movie is painfully boring, it fails to offer anything beyond what we have seen before, and it all feels pretty much dead-on-arrival. In short: This is sci-fi 101 and is certainly not going to impress those expecting something remarkable.
Prior to the release of this new entry, some audiences will tell you that every film in the Matrix series is an important cog in this huge sci-fi machine. Others will disagree entirely, and will tell you the only instalment worth caring about is the original.
I would be one of the people in the latter camp, because while I believe the original movie is a genuinely brilliant bit of cinema, which became hugely influential at the time of its release (and beyond), as far as I’m concerned, the sequels were all superfluous. None of them managed to elevate the story above what The Matrix offered the first time around, and they all felt redundant.
Here we are almost two decades on from that last sequel and once again it’s the same old story. There is nothing new on offer here, and certainly nothing inspired.
Thing is, there has been plenty of opportunity to come up with something imaginative, so there really is no excuse for such poor writing this time around. It is the same old shtick being wheeled out once more, and boy does it get very dull, very quickly.
The biggest problem The Matrix Resurrections has is that it simply doesn’t push the envelope. There is no creativity on display and no real reason for its existence.
This movie is simply here because Warner Bros wanted it to happen and felt like audiences would want that too. And sure, maybe plenty do, but I expect they would want something a little more exciting than what is served up.
As mentioned above, this film works on a technical level and I can’t fault a single special effect or piece of CGI. Everything looks polished and effortlessly put together.
I also can’t fault the cast. Every actor seems committed to the film, and lead stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss seem to be happy to be back.
But when it comes to the story, there’s simply nothing going on. It all feels so underwhelming and I have to wonder why anyone thought this would be a good idea?
All attempts at philosophy fall flat and all the meta references that crop up in the movie feel like surface level stuff. The whole movie also feels incredibly dated, with the franchise very much stuck in the past.
I know this movie came out today, Wednesday 22nd December 2021, because this is when I went to the cinema to watch it; and yet, this film could have easily come out in 2004, a year after the other sequels. It almost feels like the script has been sat in a drawer for decades, and simply dusted off just before filming took place.
What perhaps bugs me the most about The Matrix Resurrections is the fact that this movie should make me feel nostalgic. Seeing Neo and Trinity back on the big screen, after all these years, should be something truly special to see, and should be a big deal – but it isn’t.
The story doesn’t conjure up a good enough reason for them to come back, so their reunion falls flat. Sure, it’s nice to see them on screen together, but there’s no ‘wow’ moment and nothing feels earned.
Compare this film to Spider-Man: No Way Home, which is also playing in cinemas right now, and you can see how much The Matrix Resurrections fails its characters and its audience. The Spidey film finds ways to make you care about its big screen reunions, and The Matrix Resurrections doesn’t.
The Matrix Resurrections is opening a week after Spider-Man: No Way Home made its debut, and while it should be another huge movie this winter, I feel that it will struggle against the competition. This isn’t because Spider-Man has larger appeal, The Matrix is a very big franchise; it is simply because the former is a much better movie.
The Matrix Resurrections is a misfire because it does nothing to evolve the series. It trades on its name, and hopes that it can get by on goodwill alone, without doing any real leg work.
Sure, some audiences will find some entertainment in the movie, and there are aspects of the film I can’t fault, but it all falls short. This film should have tried harder – it is simply not good enough.
So-so at best. Nothing more.