Director: Lana Wachowski
Writers: Lana Wachowski, David Mitchel, and Aleksandar Hemon
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and Jada Pinkett Smith
It’s been close to two decades since the final part of The Matrix trilogy was released, with such a poor reception from fans and critics that it arguably tarnished the reputation of the original. It does somehow feel like it’s time to revisit the universe that the Wachowski’s created. The resolution offered in Revolutions doesn’t sit right and that has finally been put right.
Without talking about the plot in detail or giving any spoilers, because this is something you should go into completely cold, The Matrix Resurrections is pretty great. At first it feels like it’s going to be a rehash of the first film and then it throws it upside down. The ‘meta’ self-referencing in the first twenty minutes is excellent. The second half does revert to a more standard action flick, but it’s still entertaining, while the action isn’t a patch on the original. Even with the focus on action there are also some great subversions and twists in the later half that make it all worthwhile. Essentially it focuses on the love story between Neo and Trinity, which is really what The Matrix was about in the first place.
The cast is great. Keanu Reeves is good in the role of Neo, with his usual stilted performance that only fits this character. Carrie-Anne Moss is criminally underused but amazing every time she’s on screen. Like in the original, Trinity gets some of the coolest moments and lines in the film. Neil Patrick Harris is excellent as the new antagonist, channelling the energy of Monokuma from the Danganronpa series. His character just gets better and better every time he appears on screen, and he really shines.
The recasting of Laurence Fishburne, however, just doesn’t feel right. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is good, but he’s not Morpheus. He just doesn’t bring the same gravitas that Fishburne brought, and it’s strange that he wasn’t asked to return, especially since the film doesn’t really justify why he wasn’t.
Hugo Weaving is also missed, but that makes more sense both in the film and in real life. Scheduling conflicts, mean that Jonathan Groff steps into the role of Agent Smith. His performance is interesting, and his altered appearance seems to make more sense in the film than Morpheus’s, but he’s still not Weaving. It would have been nice to get the whole gang back together. There are certain scenes that would have been brilliant with Hugo Weaving and Laurence Fishburne back in their roles.
While it is entertaining, the story does follow some of the same plot beats that the original does, even if it is doing something interesting at the same time. The film criticising the rehashing of old ideas – ‘why use old code for something new’ – but doing exactly that at the same time feels a little lazy. The action also feels a little messy compared to original trilogy, it’s not always clear what’s going on in the fight scenes and the choreography is severely lacking. It’s a real let down considering what the series was so well known for in the early 2000s.
Despite that the climactic action sequence is better than anything in The Matrix Revolutions and the whole thing has washed away the dirty taste of the original sequels. It’s not close to touching the original film, but Resurrections is the first sequel to The Matrix that’s worthy of the title.
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