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The Matrix Resurrections (2021)

Review: written Jan 2022

Wish I’d taken the blue pill…

The Matrix Resurrections (2021)

It’s been nearly twenty years since the last Matrix movie seemed to wrap up the story of Neo and Trinity (for better or worse). So it is fitting that in the initial scene as our new characters see a very familiar tale being played out again, they reflect that “this shouldn’t be happening” and “it wasn’t like this” – both of which could be argued as being true for this latest belated chapter. After seeing some Matrix-y type things happening on a familiar looking rooftop demonatratting The Matrix is once again a thing, we go on to meet Thomas Anderson, world famous programmer of The Matrix games trilogy. Once again he is faced with some choices about what reality he is going to accept, only this time his goals are less about changing the world and more about rescuing Trinity from her blue pill existence.

So what’s new and what works? Jesssica Henwick is great value as one of the key driving characters of the story, Someone to watch out for. Then the effects are seamless – if somewhat lacking in originality. What is new, is the sense of meta awareness to the whole endeavour that is a fun idea, albeit not explored enough – the construct within reality becomes a game within the construct. It’s the closest we come to having our brain stretched like it used to. What works best though is the romance at the heart of the story – it’s the chemistry between Neo and Trinity that makes us stay in our seats, the palpable longing and anticipation for what sparks (literal and metaphorical) might fly when they get back together.

Apart from that, Matrix Resurrections ticks all the boxes of what you expect to be in a Matrix movie.

Bullet time? … check.

Black leather outifts?... check.

That shot from underneath the helicopter as bullet shells rain down on you? … check.

Neo and Trinity? …check. In fact, it’s hard to understate the ‘cool factor’ in seeing Neo and Trinity on screen again.

Morpheus says at one point that nothing comforts anxiety like a little nostalgia… a message that director Lana Wachowski has clearly taken to heart, as she ladles on the throwbacks to the previous movies, often with actual footage in case you didn’t get the reference.

And that is the heart of the problem – there are no surprises. There are no “wow did that just happen’ moments, no moments of your sense of reality truly being stretched. What you get here is elements you know already, put together in a slightly different context, and for the most part with different actors. Few would argue that the sequels were a huge success.. but watching this movie made me realise that what they DID have was ambition – they wanted to throw in ideas and see what worked: they surprised us, even when it sometimes didn’t work. For every dull Zion Messiah like scene, we had an exhilaratingly unique car chase. Here, we are never truly thrilled – just taken along for a not unpleasant nostalgia trip. Those moments that made your jaw drop that defined the original trilogy are missing. The action is well done for sure, with the tone in places feeling more like scenes out of Korean Zombie movie Train to Busan than we might expect, but that scene aside the technical skill doesn’t distract from feeling outside looking in at a “Best of The Matrix’ reel, rather than being helplessly driven by our emotional engagement with the dramatic events.

If cinema is the ultimate red pill – helping us unplug from dull reality to help us explore deeper truths and ideas, then this time round I wish I’d taken the blue pill. There is a post credit scene at the very end of the credits. I felt about that, the way I did about the movie. I waited ages in expectation, and was then left thinking “Is that all it is?”.

The Matrix Resurrections (2021)

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