Eighteen years after the conclusion of The Matrix trilogy one-half of the Wachowski sisters returns to give the franchise the, now saturated, legacy sequel/reboot treatment with its fourth installment. That being said, what Lana Wachowski has achieved with The Matrix: Resurrections is no mean feat. It stands tall where many others, have fallen overly short.
Written by Alex Gilston
The Matrix: Resurrections picks up with Thomas Anderson after the events of The Matrix: Revolutions. Anderson is a video game designer, with the events of the original film being a vivid enough memory for him to have made it into a video game. His job is part of his fairly mundane routine, Sleeping, showering, going to the local coffee shop, and even his therapy sessions. But when he gets a text from an old friend, he might finally be able to break free from his prison once again. As with any big franchise where it has been an extended period since the previous installment it's a big risk to return to the world and the characters from a creative point of view mixed with the collective expectation of a fanbase that have been waiting. But unlike other examples of this where the final product is creatively redundant, The Matrix: Resurrections offers a fresh perspective on the already saturated reboot market.
Self-Meta Commentary litters the opening act of the film, with a Nolan-esque Matrix within the Matrix vibe. At first these moments offer themselves to a litany of eyerolls, but what starts off as a grating creative choice becomes an interesting way to unpack the impact that the original trilogy has had on popular culture, and further to that a way for Lana Wachwoski to openly explore the effect being at the centre of, what is considered by many to be, the greatest Sci-Fi film of all time had on her. The Matrix: Resurrections doesn’t become all consumed by its nostalgia trail, and even though it would be disingenuous to recommend this film if you haven't seen the original trilogy it still offers up a lot of exciting new aspects, to show the ways in which the Matrix itself has changed and updated over the years, no longer are landline phones required to hop between realities, a slick jump through a mirror now does the job. Along with that a frightening new way to keep the matrix in order: a swarm mode that takes random passers by and turns them into droning zombies that attack the protagonists.
Keanu Reeves and Carrie Ann Moss reprise their, now iconic, roles of Neo and Trinity. Reeves slips right back into action, lending a loving turn to a character who he has, everything that has come since, to thank. Carrie Ann Moss has a more difficult job playing a version of Trinity in the Matrix that has forgotten the events of the original trilogy. Moss plays the scenes in which she and Reeves interact brilliantly. Seeing the weight in her eyes, a longing for Trinity to remember who she is, is beautiful to behold.
As well as some of the original cast making their return, The Matrix: Resurrections gives a sea of new faces to the franchise tread the boards. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II brings fresh perspective and a new shoes feel to the role of Morpheus carrying through Laurence Fishburne’s stoicism, whilst also adding an air of campiness. Jonathan Groff menacingly chews into Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith even channeling a rip roaring “MR ANDERSON” that would make anyone shudder in their cinema seat. The film also has clever ways of explaining the omission of OG actors Laurence Fishburne, and Hugo Weaving from the sequel and why they are replaced by the aforementioned actors, and it goes a long way to help you get over them not being around. The star of the show in The Matrix: Resurrections however is Jessica Henwick as new character Bugs (yes, like the bunny, good one Warner Bros). Her presence as a driving force of the plot is helped along by the charisma she dishes out in the bucketload, whilst simultaneously being involved in some of the best action sequences throughout the film. The action sequences may not live up to the revolutionary choreography from the original trilogy but it's still riveting enough to bolster up the action light sequences between them.
The Matrix: Resurrections is an example of amazing blockbuster fanfare. If you want it to just be a bunch of people fighting in a virtual reality then that is what it can be. If you want it to be a love story between Neo and Trinity, again that works. But under the surface you can see a sincere person in Lana Wachwoski trying to get to the centre of the legacy that The Matrix franchise has marked on the world, and whether it has been for better or for worse. If more Legacy sequels or reboots take a leaf from this book, on how to respect what came before whilst also offering something fresh and interesting at the same time they may end up being better for it.