Review: Matrix Resurrections has just enough of the old magic to delight fans

Enlarge / Keanu Reeves returns as Neo in The Matrix Resurrections

Warner Bros.

After almost 20 years, moviegoers lastly have the change to revisit the imaginative cyberpunk world of 1999’s The Matrix with the fourth installment within the sci-fi franchise: The Matrix Resurrections. It is not an ideal movie, however there’s sufficient of the previous magic to thrill longtime followers. The celebrities nonetheless radiate chemistry, there are many cameos and sly nods to the franchise all through, and the acquainted themes have been subtly up to date to make them extra related than ever.

(Some minor spoilers beneath, however no main reveals.)

As I’ve written beforehand, it is troublesome to overstate the deep cultural affect of The Matrix. It redefined the sci-fi movie style and formed a whole era of followers—plus, it raked in $460 million worldwide, garnered a number of Oscars, and despatched star Keanu Reeves’ already wholesome profession into the Hollywood stratosphere. Cyberpunk creator William Gibson referred to as The Matrix “an harmless delight I hadn’t felt in a very long time,” and he named Neo as his all-time favourite sci-fi motion hero.

We nonetheless discuss with taking the “purple tablet” when looking for a metaphor to symbolize selecting between an unsettling, life-changing fact or blissful ignorance. Who can neglect Reeves’ meme-worthy utterances (“Whoa!” or “I do know kung fu”) or Laurence Fishburne’s fabulous sunglasses-wearing Morpheus? That is additionally the movie that gave us “bullet time”: a particular impact—used for the rooftop scene the place Neo (Reeves) dodges bullets fired by one of many Matrix’s Brokers—by which the shot progresses in gradual movement whereas the digicam seems to maneuver at a standard velocity by the scene.

Enlarge / Two weapons are higher than one for this new model of Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II).

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That is a tough act to observe, and the 2 subsequent movies by no means fairly reached the identical heights, regardless of their field workplace success.  The identical could be mentioned about Resurrections.

The movie opens with Bugs (Jessica Henwick), captain of a insurgent ship referred to as the Mnemosyne, stumbling upon an odd program operating on previous code in an remoted node of the Matrix. It is operating a recreation of the unique movie’s well-known opening scene by which Trinity takes out a bunch of armed officers and should flee from Brokers. However sure key particulars are all incorrect—together with the presence of an Agent who seems to be the digital embodiment of Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Bugs frees Morpheus from the node and so they group as much as observe down Neo within the Matrix.

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Neo, again in his Thomas Anderson persona, is working at a sport design firm referred to as Deus Machina, along with his boss and companion Smith (Jonathan Goff). Thomas is known for designing the corporate’s most profitable gaming franchise: the Matrix. However he retains having vivid goals that appear like reminiscences, and might’t shake a nagging sense that he actually is imprisoned inside a faux laptop actuality. He commonly sees a therapist (Neil Patrick Harris), who retains Thomas properly provided with prescription blue capsules.

Thomas can also be surprisingly drawn to a married mother named Tiffany (Carrie Ann Moss) who frequents the identical cafe (aptly named Simulatte). In fact, Thomas’s instinct seems to be appropriate, and it is not lengthy earlier than Bugs and Morpheus observe him down and determine the right way to rescue him from the Matrix as soon as once more.

Enlarge / Carrie Ann Moss returns as Trinity—or is she a suburban housewife named Tiffany?

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The movie’s premise is ingenious: the idea of the Matrix, and the One who can management and manipulate it, is so highly effective, that the system had to determine the right way to dilute it. What higher method to take action than by trivializing it, remodeling a heroic fantasy into leisure? It gives the right alternative to work in intelligent fan-service nods to the unique trilogy in some sudden methods, similar to a black cat named Deja vu. And Wachowski has give you an particularly cool twist to “bullet time” that I can not talk about in depth with out spoilers.

There have been some technological updates, too. Bugs and her fellow human rebels go out and in of the Matrix utilizing mirrors as portals relatively than telephone traces; Brokers can don “skins” to mix in higher with the simulated people within the Matrix; and Morpheus could be embodied exterior of the Matrix by way of one thing referred to as the “Exomorphic Particle Codex” (mainly swarms of nanobots).

Enlarge / Jessica Henwick is a brand new insurgent ally named Bugs.

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It is well-known that the Wachowskis did not initially intend to make one other Matrix movie after Revolutions in 2003. Lilly Wachowski went as far as to name the prospect “a very repelling thought in these instances” in a 2015 interview—a pointy critique of Hollywood’s choice for sequels, reboots, and diversifications. Nonetheless, Warner Bros. formally introduced the fourth movie in August 2019.

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In Resurrections, Deus Machina’s mum or dad firm forces Thomas to work on a fourth installment of the Matrix sport, giving Lily Wachowski, as director, a first-rate alternative to skewer the studio franchise system’s obsession with focus teams and advertising and marketing. (“We’d like a brand new bullet time!”) As the sport improvement group argues about which parts are most important, and what the true which means of the Matrix is, it is not laborious to think about the scenes as reflections of the director’s personal frustrations.

Enlarge / Agent Smith (Jonathan Goff) vs. Neo.

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Look, no sequel will ever come near the visible pyrotechnics and breathtaking originality of the primary movie, and The Matrix: Resurrections has some points. Most notably, the whole second act is poorly paced and muddled, though the third act finds its ft to deliver us to a satisfying conclusion. The dialogue is commonly stilted, or bordering on pretentious—all the time a high-quality line to straddle with regards to the Matrix franchise. And there may be some fairly heavy-handed moralizing at instances that will have benefited from a extra delicate method.

However these points aren’t sufficient to sink what’s in any other case a really entertaining movie that offers longtime followers of the franchise just about precisely what they need. It is bought placing visuals, emotional resonance, dry wit, sufficient conceptual and thematic depth to spark some intriguing dialogue, and loads of combat scenes—even when the choreography is not fairly as electrifying as the unique movie. Briefly, it is a strong addition to the franchise that works extra usually than it would not.

The Matrix Resurrections is now enjoying in theaters and can also be streaming on HBO Max. We strongly advocate solely going to see motion pictures in theaters in case you are totally vaccinated and boosted, and put on a masks throughout the screening.