The Matrix Resurrections: review - Meta loop of nostalgia activated

Warner Brothers make "meta" the new "fresh and new"

There is this kind of a new trend WB studios has been doing throughout the whole of 2021. with their films. For some strange and impractical reason, they decided to "meta-roast" themselves, make jokes about their studios, multiple licenced properties and just continue doing their thing after showcasing the awareness of their flaws, potential issues and ways to get better. From Animaniacs, over the Space Jam 2The Suicide Squad,  all the way to the latest 4th entry in the Matrix franchise. For example, in one moment, the corporate office talking about the Matrix game within the Matrix: Resurrections film describes the new entry with words like "new", "fresh", "more bullet time" and "nostalgia trip". This could have been fun if this wasn't quite an alright description of the film (while it is still going on). 


Truth to be told, the 4th Matrix entry had quite the potential with Lana Wachowski returning to direct, Keanu Reaves and Carrie - Anne Moss playing their iconic roles of Neo & Trinity, while long time collaborators David Mitchel (Cloud Atlas, Sense8) and Aleksandar Hemon (Sense8) were there to write the script. Even within the synopsis/ pitch of the film it all sounds lovely and neat, Mr. Anderson is alive and well, living his life as a video game programmer, being famous for his Matrix game trilogy. His life consists of coding, chilling in a local coffee shop, visiting his psychologist (starring Neal Patrick Harris) and taking blue pills. During the sessions with the therapist, he discusses his greedy corporate boss (starring Jonathan Groff), his suicide attempt by jumping off a rooftop, and his problem making the distinction between reality and imaginary. Yet, Anderson feels there is more to life than what it seems, he feels that the line between real and imaginary is thinner than it seems. 


While it all sounds great on the paper it is quite hard to pinpoint what exactly got wrong with the film in the end. Probably it would be the easiest to say it was corporate greed, that the completed trilogy continued just it could get milked out once again (or potentially many more times) but it is not that simple.


Resurrections is far away from The Matrix, while being the closest from all the sequels to it.  There are some philosophical concepts that the film throws around but they get pushed to the back a lot. It feels like scriptwriters and director were hinting at a bit more peaceful thoughts, towards concepts that are a bit closer to Nietzsche than to Kant but this never gets overly developed. For example, in the scene where Neo and Morpheus (this time around played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II who did an amazing job in the role) once again meet and have a martial arts training/ fight, Neo is a bit more of a pacifist. He is not there to use brute force, to indulge in the violence and yet again right after he states that clearly as one of his moral codes he breaks it. This happens again and again throughout the film. Even though there is a new IO city where humanity lives and works together with some of "the machines" war is still raging. Even though Niobe is now a pacifist as well she comes back to the old war ways. Everything in this film works on binary opposites and creators, hardly noticeable, wish to go beyond it.


The film is occupied by quite a lot of fight scenes but somehow they manage not to be entertaining like "back in the day". Luckily Ressurections is not a full-blown dumbed-down action movie, like Revolutions and Reloaded were and it is not fully leaching on nostalgia even though there is quite a lot of reused imagery and concepts. Yet behind all the new Neo and Trinity story build-up and the fights and futurist dystopia side character development and side stories, unfortunately, get underdeveloped.


Probably the biggest shame for the film is that Bugs (starring Jessica Henwick) never gets a chance to fully shine. She might be there from the opening moments of the film and she might sort of serve as one of the story catalysts but she just doesn't get the proper chance to shine neither in action scenes nor with her more in-depth backstory. She is there to serve around the new lost Neo for the majority of the film, while she looks and feels that she should have been a lot more. Another character that just gets thrown into the story somewhere around the end of the second act is Sati (starring Priyanka Chopra Jonas). While hinted and shown for a few seconds in the first third of the film her whole story, that is the catalyst for the final act, is simplified and presented in just a few short and quick sentences, to feed the viewers and push them to watch more action.


Without spoiling any of the story and details all the good and bad sides of Resurrections could be dumbed down to the issue of pacing. The film offers just too much for the 148 minutes runtime. All the action, nostalgia, source trilogy character build-up and philosophical background is there but it is just imbalanced. It feels like this might have been a plan for the whole new trilogy that somehow in the end got squeezed into this one single film. While it all might sound bad, truth to be told, this entry actually might be the second-best one in The Matrix franchise. Let's just hope Neo's and Trinity's story has finally ended and if WB decides to continue making these films, they will find a way to slow down and build up the story for an amazing set of unexplored side characters they now have thanks to this entry.