It’s been almost 20 years since The Matrix Revolutions and we’ve finally returned to everyone’s favorite spoon bending simulation in The Matrix Resurrections.
Resurrections is the perfect title because last time we saw Neo and Kennedy, they were dead…like dead DEAD. However, Neo (Keanu Reeves) is back and this time he’s living in San Francisco as a video game designer. His therapist aka The Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris) keeps Neo pumped full of blue pills to help counteract him being “the one” and suppress all the weird stuff he seeing.
After being visited by a version of Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), Neo starts to question if what he’s experiencing is real or part of what he believes are delusions. After having been freed (again) by taking a red pill from Morpheus, Neo joins a group to help rescue Trinity from The Matrix.
The premise of The Matrix Resurrections is very interesting. Neo is the developer of a very popular game series based on his experiences in the first three movies. The opening of the film is very self-aware – especially during a roundtable when people are discussing the mythos around The Matrix over the past 22 years. In this film, The Matrix is hiding in plain sight as a video game orchestrated by the one man that beat the machines. Who could’ve seen Neo’s fate landing him there? As Morpheus once said, “Faith, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.”
Not long after Neo is freed the movie is drowns itself in exposition, convoluted plot points, and numerous WTF scenes. There are fragments of a good movie sprinkled throughout. The first 20-30 minutes are interesting and set the groundwork for where we find Neo after all these years. Later in the film, Neo and the crew meet up with Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) who discusses peace and how the world has changed since we last saw Neo…that’s an interesting storyline that goes absolutely nowhere.
Jessica Henwick (Iron Fist, Luke Cage) plays the best character in the film, Bugs. She gives a great performance but seems wildly underused in a film that desperately needed some standout scenes. They even found a way to waste Yahya as a remix of Morpheus and Jonathan Groff as the new Agent Smith. Why they chose to make them characters we already know and explain it with a bunch of confusing word salad is a mystery to me. Both characters could’ve had the same function but as completely new characters. It feels like a decision someone made and stuck with it despite it not making a ton of sense. These decisions did more to undercut the film than to help it.
If you’ve seen any of the John Wick films, you know what Keanu can still do. Somehow, Resurrections doesn’t use him at all. He spends most of the movie kind of fighting and holding up his hands to block bullets. This is one of the many opportunities the film had to be more interesting and entertaining.
The final battle at the end of the film feels like nothing in the Matrix franchise. It feels 100% out of place. The entire sequence in downtown San Francisco is so dark and poorly lit it’s hard to make out what exactly is happening. Out of nowhere the battle turns into a scene from World War Z. Nobody wants a zombie apocalypse film in the middle of a Matrix movie.
The Matrix Resurrections is a movie is made of good ideas and poor execution. The first film was about revolution and the people who resist programming. At its core, this is a film about love, fate, and choice….but mostly it’s a love story about Neo and Trinity having meet-cutes at a coffee shop. What made the world we were introduced to, in the original, so compelling is absent in this sequel. The film is more ideas about The Matrix than a film about The Matrix. There’s a chance they can correct the ship, but The Matrix may be something best left in 1999.