Thursday 23 December 2021

The Matrix Resurrections (Movie Review)

The final film in Warner Bros' campaign to release its biggest blockbusters simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max has arrived. And I think it is a bit fitting that the movie ended up being The Matrix Resurrections. The original film in the sci-fi series is still regarded as one of the greatest science fiction films ever made, even though its sequels had quickly fallen victim to the laws of diminishing returns. So the question then is does the new film manage to live up to the first film's legacy, or is it merely more philosophical musings akin to its sequels?
The Matrix Resurrections once again finds Keanu Reeves reprising his role as Thomas Anderson. He looks substantially older but none the wiser apparently as he is again living a reality he has grown to question. And just like déjà vu, he would once again have to "follow the white rabbit" and a string of clues if he hopes to get out of his mental prison. But things are different this time around and the Matrix seems almost bent on keeping his mind trapped and subjugated.

I guess I need to start by saying I am one of the few people out there who openly enjoyed The Matrix Revolutions. For all the film's flaws, I had found its conclusion to the trilogy satisfactory enough, as left to interpretation as it was. Most people had taken issue with that ending though and how characters like Trinity were handled in the film. So on that note, the Matrix Resurrections looks like it was almost tailored-made to address those complaints. And therein lie the start of my problems with the film.
But before we get into negatives, let me go over some of the things I did enjoy about the new film. For starters, I loved seeing both Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne-Moss on screen together, kicking butt and generally looking bad ass once again. It was a shame they weren't joined by Laurence Fishburne but I did enjoy Yahya Abdul-Mateen's take on Morpheus.
It was also nice getting to see how both The Matrix and the real world had evolved following the events of the last movie. An uneasy truce had been reached between the humans and the machines at the end of the last film and we get to see some new dynamics to their relationship in this one.
The film is also a lot funnier than I expected, although I suspect that might have more to do with its heavy push for self-awareness. The original trilogy had a few jokes and gags thrown in every now and then, like some of the soundbites used during the famous Burly Brawl, but this one was downright comical, which isn't something I thought I would ever say about a Matrix film. 
With all that said, I have to now transition to why I honestly think The Matrix Resurrections is the worst film in the entire series. This is not to say that the film itself is an unmitigated mess like some people think, but just to place it in my ranking of the overall franchise. It is hard to discuss my biggest gripes with the movie without getting into spoilers but I guess they can be summed up in one word: woke. It takes what started as a basic story about self-discovery and tries to mold it into something more palatable by today's standards and it doesn't always succeed at doing so.

Just to be clear, I have no problem at all with roles that get gender swapped in films, or movies that push to be more diverse and inclusive. But when all that happens at the expense of just telling a decent story, it becomes harder to ignore the inherent agenda. But back to the movie itself, which I thought was also a little too reliant on callbacks from the previous films, with so much archival footage and references that it almost felt like being beaten over the head with it.

I am beginning to see a pattern developing with Warner Bros. and its approach to new entries in its legacy properties. It has this tendency to go heavy on the nostalgia factor surrounding these works while throwing the audience knowing winks about the cash-grab nature of reboots and sequels. This was the case in both Scoob! and Space Jam: A New Legacy, and it is certainly the case here in The Matrix Resurrections. Except here it pushes really hard with its meta commentaries that the whole thing soon starts to border on the edge of ridiculous.

The Matrix films are also fondly remembered for pushing the boundaries of special effects in movies, with VFX shots from the first film still holding up surprisingly well today. So of course my expectation going into the new film was that it would continue that trend. Sadly, the effects in The Matrix Resurrections were far from special and sometimes borderline ugly. It also lacks the iconic green hue that was a core part of the previous films' identity, giving the new one an almost made-for-streaming look. This is my way of saying I am happy I got to see the movie at home, because all those visual shortcomings would have looked especially garish sprawled across a massive theater screen.

The Matrix Resurrections is a heavily flawed if somewhat entertaining return to one of the most iconic sci-fi creations ever made. For every good idea the film introduces, it seems to be bogged down by at least two head-scratching ones. This often had me smiling one moment and then rolling my eyes the next. But ultimately, the movie feels too self-aware and woke for its own good, sacrificing what could have been a half-decent sequel at the altar of modern-day sensibilities.


  1. I also enjoyed all three of the trilogy.
    Watched this last night. I think my wife is still confused. It had issues, which you touched upon, although was still enjoyable.

    1. Glad you were still able to enjoy it despite its flaws.