Julien Neaves, Sci Fi Head Writer
Plot: Human resistance heroes Neo and Trinity return to find new allies and new threats in a new version of the Matrix.
Review: After 18 years the Matrix franchise has been reloaded into big screens. But in this era of belated sequels is The Matrix Resurrections more Mad Max: Fury Road or Dumb and Dumber To? Well, it’s somewhere in the middle. With a Sentinel-sized SPOILER ALERT let’s swallow it down in three pills:
#1 Red Pill (The Good)
Let’s start off with what worked. Firstly, Jessica Henwick as Bugs. Her boundless energy, charm, wit and style took an undercooked, undeveloped heroine (she is basically blue-haired captain with an attitude and a white rabbit tattoo) and elevated it to the most entertaining character in the entire film. Every time she was onscreen things felt that more engaging and interesting. And just as she was the best thing about middling Marvel super hero series Iron Fist she is the best thing about Resurrections.
And speaking of great new franchise characters, man was Neil Patrick Harris fun as The Analyst. Sure, we spotted him as a villain a mile away and the blue-rimmed glasses were both on his nose and on the nose, but this quipping, condescending, meta bad guy is unlike anything we’ve seen so far. And Harris seemed to be having a blast with the role and I had a blast with him.
I also liked the addition to the lore with a new, more technologically advanced city called IO replacing the destroyed Zion. And I can’t say I will miss Zion, because it always looked like the pits of hell to me and a very unwelcoming place. I also thought it was cool that there was a faction of the machines that had allied with the humans, and some of the machine designs were very cool. The new bots and “swarm” function was interesting though it did get overused after awhile. And there a few decent action set pieces, with the train battle being the highlight.
#2 Blue Pill (The Bad)
And now for the tough pill to swallow. There is a lot that does not work here. Like A LOT. Character-wise both Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss seemed kind of bored with their roles as Neo and Trinity respectively, like they were doing it as a favour. And while we see plenty of Thomas Anderson/Neo’s treadmill life we get very little of Tiffany/Trinity, making her “climactic” turn and “don’t call me that” moment fall completely flat. And could the explanation for their return not have been so generic and predictable?
Also why bring back Smith with zero explanation and then have him behave like a different character? Jonathan Groff is so bleh and it just made me long for Hugo Weaving, though I think they should have gone with a completely new secondary baddie. And same for Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as not-Morpheus Morpheus. Other than his style he is a completely different person and his sole purpose seemed to be for fan service, which I can’t say was in any short supply here. And Niobe is back but less noble and Priyanka Chopra as adult Sati was a cool nod but she was just there for exposition. All other characters barely made a blip.
Aside from mostly underwhelming and weakly written performances the biggest issues are the action and the plot. The action is overloaded with dull, poorly choreographed, weightless CGI fests that spend more time repeating previous franchise scenes (remember when Smith multi-punched Neo? YES, we do!) than doing anything new and interesting. I kept waiting for a “wow” moment that never came. At least Reloaded had a few of those. And that story? I think it was a giant metaphor for Lana Wachowski not wanting to make the movie in the first place. I mean, Thomas/Neo literally says that, and all the meta commentary about “the games” within the movie seems to be a not-so-subtle middle finger to greedy Warner Bros and a response to the heady franchise ideas being forgotten by some fans in lieu of “more bullet time”.
True or not, I didn’t need to spend most of the movie watching callbacks to previous films or ACTUAL SCENES from previous movies (for the in-movie video game was it all cut scenes?). It felt like The Force Awakens all over again with the cherry on top making Trinity also the One for some reason. It’s like the movie was simultaneously parodying itself and hating itself at the same time, and we were all along for the self-loathing ride.
#3 Green Pill (In Conclusion)
Overall I found Resurrections to be highly disappointing and way too derivative of the franchise, and possibly purposely so. But there are a couple of bright spots here and enough that worked that would warrant another entry, once it is fresh and exciting. And please don’t be a winking remake of Reloaded. Then the franchise would need to be un-resurrected.
Editor Jules’s Score: 5.5 out of 10
So how would you rate The Matrix Resurrections? And you can check out more action-packed sci fi content below:
Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.