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Review: The Matrix Resurrections (2021)

The Matrix Resurrections (2021)

Directed by: Lana Wachowski

Premise: The fourth film in The Matrix series. Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is a successful programmer who created a groundbreaking video game known as The Matrix. But after an encounter with a familiar woman (Carrie-Anne Moss), Thomas experiences phenomena that might be a delusion or evidence that his fantasies are real.  

What Works: Lana Wachowski has been making movies since 1996 (many of them codirected with her sibling Lilly Wachowski) and the distinguishing qualities of her work have been beauty and ambition. The Matrix series exemplified this and Resurrections has some of the most accomplished imagery of Lana Wachowski’s body of work as well as one of her most thoughtful stories. This is a beautifully crafted film. It melds the digital and the organic in ways that gives the film a peculiar but fitting visual style. The look of Resurrections breaks with the visual style of the original Matrix trilogy while retaining and reworking some of the franchise’s signature images. The mix of old and new suits the film’s themes. Resurrections comes at a time when Hollywood is reviving many popular franchises with outright remakes or nostalgia sequels that mindlessly serve up fan service. The new Matrix film nods to those trends and has some self-aware fun. It ribs Hollywood’s obsession with intellectual property and the industry’s often shallow understanding of what made those properties interesting in the first place. One of the shortcomings of the original Matrix trilogy was its self-seriousness and lack of humor. Resurrections includes quite a bit of humor and it’s a welcome development. The new film also foregrounds the love story. This was always a part of the Matrix series but the love story was mostly an afterthought in the first three movies. With its humor and emphasis on romance, Resurrections possesses a human touch that eluded the earlier films.

What Doesn’t: Resurrections reopens the story that concluded in The Matrix: Revolutions. The effect is similar to Toy Story 4 and the fourth and fifth Jason Bourne films; extending the story means undoing the closure of the third installment. The Matrix series mostly benefits from Resurrections because the third chapter was uneven and the filmmakers find a smart way of revisiting this story. But it does mess up the tidiness of the previous ending. One of the distinguishing qualities of the first three Matrix films was the ambitious action sequences. The first film introduced bullet time and the second and third movies had major set pieces with elaborate choreography. The action of Resurrections is not quite as polished or ambitious as anything in the original three films. The set pieces are serviceable and exciting but never quite recapture the awe of the earlier pictures.

Bottom Line: The Matrix: Resurrections is one of the better retro-sequels. It’s thoughtful, beautifully crafted, and emotionally resonant and provides a fresh Matrix experience while remaining relevant to the original conceit.

Episode: #885 (January 2, 2022)