The Matrix Resurrections Review: A Reboot Too Far

Another reboot of a beloved franchise hits theaters and HBO Max with The Matrix Resurrections. It's a film that really didn't need to be made and Lana Wachowski, one of the original creators, seems to know it. The Matrix Resurrections is a strange journey that constantly draws attention to its own existence as a reboot. But hey, you gotta love Neo and Trinity back in action.

The Matrix Resurrections Review A Reboot Too Far

The cult classic Sci-Fi series, The Matrix, is back and stranger than ever with The Matrix Resurrections. The addition to the surreal franchise, which supposedly finished nearly 20 years ago, is at best unnecessary. The action is there and the campy absurdity is definitely there, but there’s something not quite right at the heart of the movie. 

Lana Wachowski returned to direct the fourth installment in the franchise that she and her sister, Lilly, who was not involved in this film, created in 1999. The Matrix Resurrections feels as though it was forced into existence in exchange for the soul of the original trilogy. Lilly may have been right to stay away, but it seems like Lana Wachowski was suspicious of the process too, and left some not-so-hidden remarks for the powers that be at Warner Brothers.

The Matrix Resurrections is now playing in theaters and available for streaming on HBO Max.

The Matrix Resurrections – Official Trailer 2

Story – What Was it All For?

A long time has passed since the events of the original trilogy and a new matrix has trapped Neo once again. The first act of The Matrix Resurrections feels like playing a perpetual game of chicken with the fourth wall. Neo is an award-winning game designer responsible for creating a trilogy of video games in the Matrix… about the Matrix. So to keep Neo in the Matrix, the machines tricked him into believing he created the events of the original trilogy of movies as video games.

While I am criticizing the odd choice and it’s probably confusing to understand in print, it actually is an interesting direction that makes perfect sense in the movie. It’s more a question of taste as the movie constantly draws the audience’s attention to the fact that this is a movie. At some points, it feels as though Keanu Reeves is going to turn to the camera and acknowledge us at any moment. 

The Matrix in the Phone

The Matrix in the Phone

Self-Awareness

Lana Wachowski seems to be actively criticizing that this very movie exists at all. The constant regurgitation (or “resurrection” if you will) of old franchises is the hidden theme of this movie. It is self-aware of its own creation. There is even a line about Warner Brothers forcing the company Neo started to reboot the old “Matrix franchise” of games which gives him a panic attack. I can imagine Lana and Lilly felt something very similar when approached about this reboot. 

It is honestly hard to tell if The Matrix Resurrections is a brilliant rebellion against its own existence or another failed reboot. Maybe it’s somewhere in-between. The fact that it exists at all is a bit of an insult to the themes of the original trilogy, but at least it’s an acknowledged insult. The Wachowskis created a piece of unique art with The Matrix, whether or not you think it is good art is beside the point. The Matrix Resurrections is art forced into existence for easy profit. While it may be entertaining, and Lana did everything she could to keep some of the original spirit, something important is missing. 

Neo and Trinity

Neo and Trinity

Characters and Performances: The Old and The New

The stand-out performances are not very surprising here. Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprise their roles as Neo and Trinity. This is really the delight of the movie for fans of the original films. They slowly step back into the action as they discover themselves all over again in the new matrix that’s trapped them once again. Their love is clearly the true power behind the prophesized “one.” It’s a bit sappy for the action-packed franchise, but it fits right in with the new direction this movie takes.

As you have seen in the trailers, Laurence Fishburne was replaced as the legendary character Morpheus. The younger actor, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, leaves a lot to be desired in the role. He attempts a much more humorous demeanor than the original depiction. The character often falls flat along with many of the other younger cast members. The focus is on Neo and Trinity and the rest are mostly forgettable. 

The Red Pill

The Red Pill

Editing and Pacing – A Rush to the End

The Matrix Resurrections covered a lot of ground. The first act, like that of the first film, focused on Neo’s gradual awakening. It’s a long process that drags a little too long leaving the rest of the movie in a mad scramble to get to the end. My instincts tell me this might have been a much longer movie, or at least a very different movie at some point along the editing process. Several plot points are abandoned as the focus falls on the love story that connects the two main characters. The leftover fragments of the other directions that could have been explored leave the film cluttered and with less substance. A more interesting movie may have been abandoned to make way for the pointless nostalgia bomb Lana warned us about at the beginning of the film.

Neo Ready for a Fight

Neo Ready for a Fight

Cinematography and Sound – Slow-Mo Madness

The ambition of the original trilogy finally matched the technology of the modern day. Bullet-time has made its triumphant return and it looks better than ever. The Wachowski’s over-zealous use of slow motion and wall smashing shoot-outs peaks in The Matrix Resurrections. In fact, they may have taken it a little too far. The things that were new and exciting in 1999 now might read as tacky and dated. The sound design however leaned all the way into the nostalgia factor. All of the epic instrumental score of the originals makes its way into The Matrix Resurrections.

The fight choreography was a huge problem. Keanu Reeves looked old and slow throughout the whole movie. Even after he regained the powers he had in the original trilogy it was still not quite right. This can’t be Reeves’s fault considering how dominant he is in all the John Wick films. There is no excuse for lazy Kung-Fu fights in The Matrix.

Summary
The Matrix Resurrections is the movie that didn't need to be. It has some fun parts, and it expands on a very interesting universe, but it lost the soul and the meaning of its predecessor. The original trilogy was about individuality and breaking from a stagnant system. This is about repeating a formula to make money and tickle the nostalgia spot we all have. The one consolation is that Lana Wachowski seems to have been aware of this and calls it out as soon as possible in the movie itself.
Good
  • Action packed fun
  • Neo and Trinity steal the show
Bad
  • Bad fight choreography
  • Insulting to original trilogy
  • Forgettable side characters
  • Slow start, rushed ending
5
Average

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