This feels like it should be a bigger deal than it currently is. As something as momentously ground-breaking as The Matrix, this should be the biggest release of the year. But with most big franchises, it couldn’t imitate its own reputation and The Matrix just fizzled out. The biggest question I had on my mind is would a nearly 20-year gap, could Lana Wachowski (no Lilly this time) breathe new life into a series that was, at one time, the biggest thing in cinema. To its credit, at least no fan will be able to say it doesn’t nail its trademark action, but even to those who still hold this series dear, this film underperforms in a depressing way.
Right off the bat, no fan will be disappointed to see Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss back in the roles of Neo and Trinity. The way they’re brought back may not settle well with fans considering their characters were killed in the third Matrix, but in the grand scheme of things, their screen presence together is enough to send excited shivers down your spine. Their performances suggest they’re not here simply for the paycheck, they do have genuinly care for this series which is shown in the chemistry that made their characters endearing.
The double-edged sword of The Matrix is that it was the bastion of ground-breaking special effects, but at the same time, also responsible for the odd few that are very outdated. Thank goodness then that the quality of effects seemed like a big priority in the making of this film because although it’s not a return to form, the action is still pretty spectacular on the visual palette. The final chase scene will stand out to many because of just how much is thrown at Neo and Trinity. People jumping out of buildings and in front of Neo and Trinity to stop them, attack helicopters, exploding cars, you could describe it as beautiful chaos.
While The Matrix is unquestionably a science fiction film, Resurrections makes this clearer than others that it is also a love story. What I admire most about some questionable writing is how they kept this love story at its core. I think this is the first Matrix film where the importance of the story outweighed the importance of the visuals which I’m surprisingly OK with. For one, it allows the film to explore Neo and Trinity relationship after so long in a “love conquers all” type storyline, to actually explore the effect that time gap has had on both of them.
Here’s a question that many have been asking about this franchise, why did it fail? Well, there are many number of things you could pin the blame on and some more impactful than others, but to sum it all up in one word, overcomplication. Making a world bigger doesn’t mean that you have to be clever. If you disregard the love story and pay attention to the story that utilises the sci-fi genre, it is very difficult to follow, especially when events aren’t properly explained. I guarantee you’ll be asking questions about what you just watched, and the answers may not satisfy you.
If there is one element of the film that fans will be criticized the most, it is the films near obsession to be self-reflective on itself and, in the bigger picture, media itself. In the virtual world, Neo (or Thomas Anderson) is a video game developer and the games he developed are, you guessed it, The Matrix. There is a strange scene at the beginning between Thomas and his team about how Warner Bros have asked him to make a fourth Matrix game. It’s all very meta for a series that isn’t really best known for being meta and it gives the film a bit of an identity crisis. Is this what Matrix is now? because this feels like it wouldn’t go down well with even the most hardcore of fans.
The assurance that Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss give great performances is something that feels like you need to know before watching Resurrections because there are two performances that are doubtful, one more than the other. The first is Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus. In fairness, he doesn’t actually do a bad job, he just gives a more charismatic performance whilst retaining the sternness Lawrence Fishburne provided. However, Jonathan Groff as Agent Smith is a performance that is definitely below par to that of this well-known antagonist. His performance feels so far from what Hugo Weaving delivered; I feel as though he would have been more well-received if they had just given him the role of a new character. Now I think about it, Neil Patrick Harris who plays The Analyst could have been a good Agent Smith, they should have swapped roles.
There is a video on YouTube that shows a news report from the opening night of The Matrix Reloaded. It’s all very cringy, but you see a level of fandom that rivals that of Star Wars or Ghostbusters or even the MCU. Where has that gone? Where are all the superfans in leather trench coats and sunglasses? That’s what this film needed to regain, but unfortunately, I think it’s driven those fans even further away. Sure, it may be the smallest of steps in the correct direction, but no booming progress is being made. A real shame.
Final Result: 5/10 – Average
Have you seen The Matrix Resurrections? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: SMReviews Wrap-Up of 2021