In the picture

January 9, 2022

The Matrix Resurrections pokes fun at the idea of a reboot and plays out first and foremost as a love story tied to the original film, while leaving room for potential sequels, prequels and reboots.

In the picture

The Matrix

Staring: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jessica Henwick, Neil Patrick Harris, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jonathan Groff, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

Co-written and directed by:
Lana Wachowski

The Matrix (1999), the ground-breaking sci-fi masterpiece that blew our collective minds and provoked us with questions ranging from the cost of artificial intelligence and technology to philosophy, is unmatchable. We knew this when the 2003 follow-up films (The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions) released. The frenzied expectations fans felt after the original 1999 film never were fulfilled. In fact, The Matrix Revolutions from the franchise felt a little like watching a video game with no end in sight as the film ran over two hours.

The Matrix Resurrections, released in 2021 with a running time of 2 hours and 28 minutes, was always going to be a film that wouldn’t surpass its original predecessor, The Matrix. But, with Hollywood’s consistent focus on making superhero films, and many, many franchise films, even if they make little sense (Fast and the Furious, Mission Impossible, take a bow), the latest was always going to release at some point, with or without its cast and creators.

Thankfully, two of the film’s leading cast members, Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, said yes to The Matrix Resurrections, which mocks the current atmosphere of mainstream Hollywood and plays out as a love story above all. Some actors decided not to come back such as Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus. Others such as Hugo Weaving (the original Agent Smith) couldn’t play the role due to scheduling conflicts. Their roles, essayed by other actors, make the viewer truly miss them.

Nonetheless, Lana Wachowski (previously Larry Wachowski), sat down with co-writers David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon to crank out the only script that would’ve made sense given the iconic stature of The Matrix.

The film is topsy-turvy with a melancholic opening. Keanu Reeves is Thomas Anderson, a man living in the machine-made world but dreams about his former life as Neo. Living on the blue pill instead of red (which opened his eyes in the original film), his therapist, essayed by Neil Patrick Harris, always tells him these are just dreams. But somewhere inside he feels lost with the past haunting his present.

The encounter with a young Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), a young and still menacing Agent Smith (Jonathan Groff), Jessica Henwick (Bugs), Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Priyanka Chopra (Sati) as well as scenes from the original film eventually convince Neo who he is. His chance meeting with Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) triggers a deeper connection for both. They are perplexed because even though they don’t know each other, sparks fly between them.

What makes this film radical is that as time has passed, Thomas Anderson/Neo does not possess the same strength. He cannot, even as he continues to work his way out from machine-made-world to real-world: this is Neo after more than two decades. He simply cannot wave a hand as bullets drop on the floor or fight Agent Smith with one hand the way he used to. It takes a lot out of him now. This is where the role of Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity) is the real surprise. Only when Neo and Trinity are together can they achieve the unthinkable. A chance meeting at a coffee shop flips the otherwise lost leads.

The problem with The Matrix Resurrections is its cast. The significance of Morpheus, now essayed by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, is laughable. There’s no grit. How can Neo believe him when even the audience cannot see any similarity to the original or find him believable? This is bad casting. Captain Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) – apart from a secret that you must see for yourself – is very, very old while others are not. This ageism is sexist and wasn’t exactly needed. Priyanka Chopra, playing Sati, showcases a boring subplot that wasn’t necessary either. Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity should’ve been introduced earlier in the film. She is, in a sense, wasted in the film, given the scenes she features in. Neo and Trinity are electrifying. Why not bring her out sooner?

Apart from Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, both the heart of the film, the actors that do shine include Jonathan Groff as Agent Smith. Of course the intensity of Hugo Weaving isn’t there but between scenes from the original film and the present, he does a decent job. Jessica Henwick, introduced as Bugs, is an intriguing character.

In the end, not only does the film make light of Hollywood’s profitable habit of taking anything significant and converting it into a reboot or sequel or prequel, it pays ode to love as much as it does to sci-fi. Where Neo-Trinity go from here and what catastrophic events will follow them can lead to a sequel. But even if it doesn’t, what is terrific (and nostalgic) to watch is how even after decades have gone by, Neo and Trinity go on… with the message that love is worth fighting for.

Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only
*** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection

In the picture