In 1999 a cultural phenomenon occurred. It was called The Matrixand it was spectacular. With directorial duo The Wachowskis arriving on the scene with a unique spin on the sci-fi genre it was something unique and defined lightning in a bottle. Its sequels couldn’t recapture the magic and now twenty-two years on Lana Wachowski returns without her sister to helm The Matrix: Resurrections. Can this sequel live up to the sky-high legacy?
Going back to the Matrix with The Matrix: Resurrections
The Matrix: Resurrections opens in a similar fashion with several agents hunting down Trinity the difference this time is that “Trinity” is being watched by Bugs. Bugs (Jessica Henwick) is on a mission to find Neo (Keanu Reeves) and her quest has brought her to a strange programme that seems to be playing out the events of the previous films. Here she meets a new iteration of Morpheous (a suitably smooth Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Together they hope to find Neo wherever he is.
Meanwhile, game developer Thomas Anderson is trying to survive in life. He finds himself constantly questioning his sanity in a world that was defined by his greatest creation, The Matrix a multi-award winning videogame. Now with the inescapable sequel looming Thomas is falling apart. Even the timely meeting of Tiffany (Carrie Ann-Moss) can’t fully dissuade him from his dismal life.
Just when Thomas doesn’t know what to do with his life, The Matrix decides it’s not done with him just quite yet.
Time to fly
The Matrix: Resurrections is without a doubt one of my favourite films of 2021. It knows what you want from it and says tough shit because this is our story. We know you want nostalgia, we know you want bullet time and we know you want leather. Well, you’re getting those but not how you may be expecting to get them. The way this film plays with the elements of the narrative of the Matrix franchise as a whole is fascinating. The fact that this narrative is the villain against Neo who is trying to just get back to Trinity is brilliant. Lana and her team have crafted a beautiful love story, perhaps the best one of the year.
The narrative weaponises everything that made Neo, Neo and turns it against him both figuratively and literally. It’s enjoyable watching Neo fight against the elements that made him. On the topic of fighting, an issue I know people will have is the fighting is not as smooth as it was in the previous films. It’s rougher, it’s beaten down and that reflects Neo as a character in the film. He may be The One but he’s been ripped apart and sewn back together to try and please the masses and because of that something is missing. The way the narrative knows this and deals with is genuinely intriguing allowing for multiple rewatches.
I still know Kung Fu
If there were issues for me it is that the human elements of the world outside of Neo and Trinity aren’t explored to a truly effective degree. There are some interesting characters teased but not enough time is spent on them. There are outliers who shine but to speak on them would enter spoiler country. Thankfully though Reeves and Moss still have that chemistry, perhaps to an even greater level. It is true what they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Another note is how cinematic this Matrix film looks. It’s gorgeous. A distinct charm (?) of the previous entries was their washed-out colours that were tinted green. The Matrix: Resurrections is brimming with vibrant and lush colours that show off this new iteration of the Matrix. Nothing screams this more than Morpheus’ new wardrobe which screams smooth criminal. It all comes together, visually, thematically and narratively to tell a strange but enjoyable story.
Ultimately The Matrix: Resurrections is going to be a divisive film. It does what films like Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Spider-Man: No Way Home but unlike them takes the route of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It decides that nostalgia can be more harmful than helpful to art and so the film subverts a lot of expectations, for better and for worse.