Enlarge / Keanu Reeves returns as Neo in The Matrix Resurrections

Warner Bros.

After almost 20 years, moviegoers lastly have the change to revisit the imaginative cyberpunk world of 1999’s The Matrix with the fourth installment within the sci-fi franchise: The Matrix Resurrections. It is not an ideal movie, however there’s sufficient of the outdated magic to thrill longtime followers. The celebrities nonetheless radiate chemistry, there are many cameos and sly nods to the franchise all through, and the acquainted themes have been subtly up to date to make them extra related than ever.

(Some minor spoilers under, however no main reveals.)

As I’ve written beforehand, it is troublesome to overstate the deep cultural affect of The Matrix. It redefined the sci-fi movie style and formed a whole technology of followers—plus, it raked in $460 million worldwide, garnered a number of Oscars, and despatched star Keanu Reeves’ already wholesome profession into the Hollywood stratosphere. Cyberpunk writer William Gibson referred to as The Matrix “an harmless delight I hadn’t felt in a very long time,” and he named Neo as his all-time favourite sci-fi motion hero.

We nonetheless discuss with taking the “crimson tablet” when trying to find a metaphor to characterize selecting between an unsettling, life-changing fact or blissful ignorance. Who can overlook Reeves’ meme-worthy utterances (“Whoa!” or “I do know kung fu”) or Laurence Fishburne’s fabulous sunglasses-wearing Morpheus? That is additionally the movie that gave us “bullet time”: a particular impact—used for the rooftop scene the place Neo (Reeves) dodges bullets fired by one of many Matrix’s Brokers—wherein the shot progresses in gradual movement whereas the digital camera seems to maneuver at a standard pace by means of the scene.

Two guns are better than one for this new version of Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II).
Enlarge / Two weapons are higher than one for this new model of Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II).

YouTube/Warner Bros.

That is a tough act to comply with, and the 2 subsequent movies by no means fairly reached the identical heights, regardless of their field workplace success.  The identical may be mentioned about Resurrections.

The movie opens with Bugs (Jessica Henwick), captain of a insurgent ship referred to as the Mnemosyne, stumbling upon an odd program operating on outdated code in an remoted node of the Matrix. It is operating a recreation of the unique movie’s well-known opening scene wherein Trinity takes out a bunch of armed officers and should flee from Brokers. However sure key particulars are all unsuitable—together with the presence of an Agent who seems to be the digital embodiment of Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Bugs frees Morpheus from the node they usually group as much as monitor down Neo within the Matrix.

Neo, again in his Thomas Anderson persona, is working at a recreation design firm referred to as Deus Machina, together with his boss and accomplice Smith (Jonathan Goff). Thomas is legendary for designing the corporate’s most profitable gaming franchise: the Matrix. However he retains having vivid desires that appear like reminiscences, and may’t shake a nagging sense that he actually is imprisoned inside a faux pc actuality. He commonly sees a therapist (Neil Patrick Harris), who retains Thomas effectively provided with prescription blue drugs.

Thomas can also be surprisingly drawn to a married mother named Tiffany (Carrie Ann Moss) who frequents the identical cafe (aptly named Simulatte). After all, Thomas’s instinct seems to be right, and it isn’t lengthy earlier than Bugs and Morpheus monitor him down and work out the way to rescue him from the Matrix as soon as once more.

Carrie Ann Moss returns as Trinity—or is she a suburban housewife named Tiffany?
Enlarge / Carrie Ann Moss returns as Trinity—or is she a suburban housewife named Tiffany?

YouTube/Warner Bros

The movie’s premise is ingenious: the idea of the Matrix, and the One who can management and manipulate it, is so highly effective, that the system had to determine the way to dilute it. What higher method to take action than by trivializing it, reworking a heroic fantasy into leisure? It offers the proper alternative to work in intelligent fan-service nods to the unique trilogy in some surprising methods, equivalent to a black cat named Deja vu. And Wachowski has provide you with an particularly cool twist to “bullet time” that I am unable to talk about in depth with out spoilers.

There have been some technological updates, too. Bugs and her fellow human rebels move out and in of the Matrix utilizing mirrors as portals fairly than telephone traces; Brokers can don “skins” to mix in higher with the simulated people within the Matrix; and Morpheus may be embodied outdoors of the Matrix through one thing referred to as the “Exomorphic Particle Codex” (mainly swarms of nanobots).

Jessica Henwick is a new rebel ally named Bugs.
Enlarge / Jessica Henwick is a brand new insurgent ally named Bugs.

YouTube/Warner Bros.

It is well-known that the Wachowskis did not initially intend to make one other Matrix movie after Revolutions in 2003. Lilly Wachowski went as far as to name the prospect “a very repelling concept in these occasions” in a 2015 interview—a pointy critique of Hollywood’s choice for sequels, reboots, and diversifications. Nonetheless, Warner Bros. formally introduced the fourth movie in August 2019.

In Resurrections, Deus Machina’s mum or dad firm forces Thomas to work on a fourth installment of the Matrix recreation, giving Lily Wachowski, as director, a main alternative to skewer the studio franchise system’s obsession with focus teams and advertising and marketing. (“We want a brand new bullet time!”) As the sport improvement group argues about which components are most vital, and what the true which means of the Matrix is, it isn’t exhausting to think about the scenes as reflections of the director’s personal frustrations.

Agent Smith (Jonathan Goff) vs. Neo.
Enlarge / Agent Smith (Jonathan Goff) vs. Neo.

YouTube/Warner Bros.

Look, no sequel will ever come near the visible pyrotechnics and breathtaking originality of the primary movie, and The Matrix: Resurrections has some points. Most notably, all the second act is poorly paced and muddled, though the third act finds its toes to deliver us to a satisfying conclusion. The dialogue is commonly stilted, or bordering on pretentious—all the time a fantastic line to straddle relating to the Matrix franchise. And there may be some fairly heavy-handed moralizing at occasions that will have benefited from a extra refined method.

However these points aren’t sufficient to sink what’s in any other case a really entertaining movie that provides longtime followers of the franchise just about precisely what they need. It is acquired hanging visuals, emotional resonance, dry wit, sufficient conceptual and thematic depth to spark some intriguing dialogue, and loads of struggle scenes—even when the choreography is not fairly as electrifying as the unique movie. In brief, it is a strong addition to the franchise that works extra typically than it does not.

The Matrix Resurrections is now enjoying in theaters and can also be streaming on HBO Max. We strongly advocate solely going to see motion pictures in theaters if you’re absolutely vaccinated and boosted, and put on a masks throughout the screening.

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