The Matrix has been an important part of pop culture and movie history since it helped revolutionize special effects and filmmaking in the 90s. The original trilogy introduced the world to interesting ideas and creative science fiction elements along with some intense butt-kicking action. It’s no surprise that the franchise has countless diehard fans. It was only a matter of time before the popular film series received another sequel. Sure enough, almost twenty years later, The Matrix Resurrections was released, allowing fans to revisit the series they love so much. Does The Matrix Resurrections deliver what they have been craving for so long, or does it fail to justify its existence. Let’s dive back into The Matrix to find out.
One of the most memorable aspects of the original Matrix trilogy is the incredible over-the-top martial arts action. This latest installment successfully revisits that same exciting hand-to-hand combat and gunplay while also adding to it. The action starts fairly early on in the movie and is riveting all the way through. The fight scenes are never stale as the action is kept feeling fresh with the use of different weapons, different settings from moving trains to rooftops, and blending the martial arts with the shootouts. The action in the explosive third act is especially creative and adds something new that we haven’t seen in The Matrix quite yet.
The classic trilogy served as a huge stepping stone for visual effects in filmmaking. For years, moviegoers have wondered what could be pulled off with a Matrix movie made with a modern budget and special effects. This film may not be the biggest leap for special effects, but the effects are all extremely impressive and improve upon what the original trilogy used. The captivating effects are used cleverly and where needed while helping to immerse audiences into this sci-fi world. Seeing modern effects used for a new installment in a series known for its visual effects is certainly a treat.
This sequel adds brilliant new ideas and themes to The Matrix. This is a series famous for making viewers think, and this one is no different. This one brings attention to how modern humanity has willingly trapped itself by technology, like with the use of smartphones, which reflects that the machines have trapped humanity outside of the Matrix. It even teases the idea of the original trilogy not actually existing the way we thought it did. There’s a truly meta scene in which characters discuss what they think the meaning of the original Matrix trilogy was, and each of them got something different from it. This is just like our real world in which fans have discussed what they think the true meaning of The Matrix is for years. Lana Wachowski clearly likes making her audience think.
The main theme in The Matrix Resurrections is clearly about love and how it’s what’s most important in this world. Not only does love literally conquer all in this film, but Neo and Trinity’s love is the key to stopping the machines and them having power in and out of the Matrix. Love is what separates us from the machines and is what makes us stronger. This theme leads to some great heartfelt and emotional scenes and reveals an important message. We live in a world filled with hate in many forms, whether it be racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, or something else, and perhaps we should be choosing love instead.
Everyone involved gives extraordinary performances. Not only is it nice to see some familiar faces return, but they give their all as if they’re playing these characters like they did almost twenty years ago. The newcomers hold their own with the likes of Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Jada Pinkett Smith. They prove they’re extremely talented as they bring these new and exciting characters to life in this familiar world.
There are plenty of times when The Matrix Resurrections attempts to make a point about the current state of movies and media, but it feels more like self-parody than it does clever commentary. There are scenes that come off as plain goofy when they talk about the original trilogy as a brilliant work of fiction while also being in a Matrix movie, and it’s clear they’re not attempting to make it humorous. It’s eye roll worthy. 2019’s Jay and Silent Bob Reboot is much more successful when it comes to making commentary on reboots by making a reboot.
Throughout the movie, Neo/Thomas is convinced that the original Matrix trilogy were actually video games instead of events that actually took place. When we see the video game footage, however, it’s just live action footage (cleverly) reused from the originals. The footage isn’t redone with video game graphics, and we never see the actual gameplay of these supposed video games. The machines could have just as easily convinced him they were fictional movies and gotten away with it. It would have made much more sense while being even more meta since they are just movies to the audience. This comes across as a lame attempt to be relevant to modern audiences by using newer technology as reference.
The machines are still a threat and have people trapped in a new Matrix, Agent Smith is back and trying to kill Neo, humanity is living in a dystopian future, humans and machines aren’t living in peace, and Neo and Trinity are conveniently alive. Did any of the accomplishments or sacrifices of the previous films actually matter? Diehard Matrix fans must feel pretty insulted that Neo saving the world didn’t actually help anything and that it was all pointless.
This movie’s existence, along with resurrecting characters who were killed off, never truly feels justified. Since the third film finished the story,fans wondered what a fourth movie would be about since it was announced. Unfortunately, the answer is that all of the conflicts we’ve already seen are happening again. It’s all forced for the sake of getting another movie from a known franchise out there as a cash grab.
There are far too many moments throughout the film where it asks the question “hey, remember this?” There are countless items, events, and characters that only exist in this movie for the sake of referencing the past movies. Each of these moments interrupt the flow of the movie and break immersion. It’s like the Matrix series is just running in place. There are other franchises that have discovered a working formula for revisiting past series with a new installment that both celebrates its history while progressing forward. Jurassic World is not without its nostalgic references, but it tells a brand new story set in that world without getting too caught up in the events of the previous films. Resurrections could have been that for The Matrix, but it missed the mark.
The Matrix Resurrections offers the action, special effects, and meta ideas that fans expect from a Matrix movie while adding new ideas of its own. It’s nice to see some familiar faces and to be introduced to some new ones. However, it feels pointless at many moments throughout its plot, it feels like a cash grab filled with references to better movies that interrupt the flow of the story. This movie is definitely flawed and has proven there’s no real reason for it to have been made. That being said, it’s a fun-enough watch for those who enjoy the thrill of the classic trilogy. It’s just enjoyable enough that I wouldn’t necessarily say no to more if a fifth movie takes us back into the Matrix.