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Matrix: Resurrections – Film Review

Matrix: Resurrections – Film Review
by Fran Winston

Directed by: Lana Wachowski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Jada Pinkett Smith

In cinemas December 22nd

I rewatched the original Matrix trilogy in anticipation of this screening and boy was I glad I did because I would have been completely lost otherwise. The entire plot of this movie depends on you having a knowledge of what came before, which is confusing. Is it a reboot? Are they trying to set the franchise up for a new generation? I can generally figure this out within minutes of a franchise movie starting but, being honest, I left the cinema totally confused by this.

I’m going to assume you have at least a passing knowledge of the original movies which saw Neo (Reeves) and Trinity (Moss) sacrifice themselves to save humanity. Therefore, they are the Resurrections of the title (both Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss appeared in the trailers and all the advertising material, so it’s not much of a spoiler in truth)! Unfortunately, some of their co-stars from the original trilogy don’t make it to this new version, so we are left without many of our favourites including Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving (other than in brief clips from the original). Instead, their places and characters are taken over by Abdul-Mateen II and Groff. Yes, that’s correct, instead of writing them out, they have simply replaced them. And being honest, even the conceit of the Matrix that allows for this doesn’t make their loss any less palatable.

When we catch up with Neo he is now back living as his alter ego Thomas Anderson and is an award-winning game designer. The most popular of his creations is The Matrix trilogy of games. Here’s where it all gets very meta (no, not the new Facebook branding, the artistic conceit). Their parent company Warner Bros want him to make a fourth Matrix game. He isn’t thrilled by the prospect and starts to have mental health issues which he discusses with his analyst (Harris) but as the lines between his day-to-day life and his creation get more and more blurred he starts to wonder if he’s having a nervous breakdown or if there is, in fact, more to this.

I was surprised when rewatching the original trilogy at how well they held up, although much of the technology looks dated. Unfortunately, they barely try to address this here (other than not featuring phone boxes). All of the elements that made the original trilogy appear fresh have the opposite effect here. They mention that things have been updated and refer to the original coding as old but it all seemed pretty similar to me.

Basically, this movie adds little to the franchise. Fans of the original trilogy, the last of which was released in 2003, were (generally) happy with it and didn’t need another instalment. Yet there is nothing here to convert new fans. Yes, the action scenes are impressive, but they no longer look original having been widely copied over the past 18 years.

This suffers from far more of an identity crisis than its main character. It never really takes off and it feels every single minute of its two and a half hour running time.  Perhaps die-hard fans of the trilogy will like this but as someone who enjoyed the original trilogy, I found this completely pointless. It adds nothing to the story and in a month where Spider-Man: No Way Home managed to successfully pull together 20 years of plot threads to huge acclaim, this just seems messy.

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