“What if WE are in The Matrix right now?” I remember asking my Dad this as a young nine-year-old after watching The Matrix. I was too young to really grasp the concept of the film, and this continued well into the second and third films in the trilogy. However, one thing stayed with me well into adulthood. The Matrix trilogy was revolutionary for its time.
Now, twenty-two years later, the franchise returns with a brand new entry but does it hold up to its predecessors and should it have even been made?
The Matrix Resurrections, the fourth film in The Matrix franchise, is truly a nostalgia fest right from the get go. Not only does it bring back and reunite the lead protagonists, Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) but it manages to carve out an interesting narrative that brings many scenes from previous films, particularly the first film, back onto the big screen.
The continuation of the story and the way in which the film brings both Neo and Trinity back, considering the pair were assumed to be dead given the events of the third film, was puzzling. Yet, it manages to make some semblance of sense that left me somewhat satisfied.
In keeping with modern themes, rather than being solely about machines vs mankind, The Matrix Resurrections felt more like a story about the power of love and ‘love conquers all’, something that in today’s day and age, is an overdone concept. While this was a nice touch, especially given how much we know Neo and Trinity love each other, the world and people around them deserved much more.
While a fantastic nostalgia fest, reminding me of my childhood and being in such awe of technology and the Internet, The Matrix Resurrections didn’t quite leave me feeling the same sense of wonder and amazement as the original did. With technology advancing so rapidly over the past two decades, gone were the days of having to pick up a phone to exit The Matrix. Instead going in and out of The Matrix is a seamless experience, one that just didn’t sit right with me. I can’t decide whether that’s because of how much I enjoyed the original movies and the way technology was depicted or whether it’s because we’re so saturated with advanced technology these days that the novelty is no longer there.
Character wise, nostalgia certainly won over character development and relationships. Seeing a number of familiar characters return to deal with similar challenges from the past was a real treat. However, it was disappointing that there wasn’t the same sense of character development and bonding that was so evident in the previous films.
Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss were certainly a class above in remaining true to their characters after all these years, which really helped make this film an enjoyable watch. I was also very pleased to see Priyanka Chopra play a familiar role in the film, a great addition to the cast in terms of South Asian representation in film.
This could also be said for Jessica Henwick’s Bugs, wherein it was amazing to see a British Asian woman play, not only a lead role but be a badass and rebellious captain. Beyond that, I was definitely left disappointed. This was especially so with the new Agent Smith. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia talking but no one can come close to Hugo Weaving and this certainly was true in Jonathan Groff’s portrayal. It was a big ol’ nope for me as soon as his character was revealed. In fact, I cringed each time Smith was on screen.
Now, it wouldn’t be The Matrix without some seriously cool stunts and martial arts right? So how did that fare in this film? Well, there certainly were a lot of action but the incredible stunts that Neo was able to pull were few and far between. There’s an explanation for this of course, but Neo simply performing an ‘almighty push’ (Naruto fans, you’ll get what I mean) throughout the film was just a bit much. In fact, most of the characters used guns more than they actually fought, which could just be a change in times thing. After all, bullets definitely do more damage than limbs can.
Visually, I have to admit, I wasn’t at all fazed. I’ve seen modern films that have incredible graphics and expected The Matrix Resurrections to include much of the same but the visuals felt quite stock standard for an action film if I’m being honest. There wasn’t anything that really made me go “wow”. Perhaps because we’ve seen most of the machine city and world in previous films that it didn’t feel like anything new. If anything, the use of AI and bringing them into the ‘real world’ was the only revolutionary part of the film.
In many ways, The Matrix Resurrections was an enjoyable watch, a typical action film to tune out to. The trip down memory lane and being reminded of the past was definitely the biggest factor behind the enjoyment value of the film and I certainly appreciated seeing both Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss together on screen again. In addition, the ‘girls get it done’ theme that was underlying throughout the film was a nice touch in showing that women are more than capable of tackling dangerous situations.
That being said, The Matrix Resurrections was not at all revolutionary. While I appreciated the throwback and seeing the reunion between Neo and Trinity, the ending of The Matrix Revolutions was far more satisfactory and should have been left alone.
Ultimately, while I enjoyed sitting through the film, I would have preferred the original trilogy be left as it were.