The Matrix Resurrections Review: Disappointing Fan Service

The Matrix Resurrections Review: Disappointing Fan Service

Rating 2.5/5

Lana Wachowski’s The Matrix Resurrections (2021), fourth in the Matrix series, seems far too occupied with playing upon our fondness for the past Matrix trilogy. I am not saying that is entirely bad. After Marvel Studios came out with Spiderman: No Way Home last week, it was only time before another big movie studio, Warner Bros here, attempted to cash in on their own fandom by providing a strategically tailored fan servicing movie. After all, nostalgia has become a commodity now. 

But, while No Way Home did manage to provide a compelling narrative amidst the obvious fan pandering, The Matrix Resurrections fails to have its own distinct story and personality. Its sole strength lies on just your love for the original Matrix movies. You need to remember how much you loved Neo, Trinity, their whirlwind romance, and the mind-boggling twists and turns. If you don’t, this movie will feel far more unbearable. 

The story opens with a scene you might be familiar with, from the first Matrix film. Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss) is about to fight the armed soldiers and make her daring phone booth escape. However, things go differently this time for her, in an unfortunate way. A new character Bugs (Jessica Henwick), blue-haired and with a symbolic white rabbit tattoo, is closely following all of this action while Seq (Toby Onwumere) is guiding her over his headset. An adrenaline pumping chase and gunfight scene soon follows. The whole sequence manages to do a decent job at creating a sense of wonder of where the plot will go, and why does Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II replacing Lawrence Fishburne) look different now.

The narrative then cuts to Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves), a world famous game designer of the Matrix video game franchise, based on his dreams of him being Neo. Thomas feels uneasy and somewhat distant from his own reality as he drifts through his day, mirroring the same discomfort he felt at the beginning of the first Matrix movie. He talks to his therapist (Neil Patrick Harris) and he gorges on an unhealthy amount of blue pills. The only real connection he seems to feel is towards Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss), who he sees regularly in the coffee shop he visits. She is a different woman now and seems to have no recollection of her being Trinity or Neo or any past events of the previous Matrix movies. She is confused and surprised when she realises that Thomas based one of the characters from his highly successful game on her, when the two have never even talked in real life before. Morpheus and Bugs soon enter the picture again, and the plot plays itself out in a series of somewhat familiar (and boring) sequences, eventually leading to a final, long drawn out battle scene. 

Watch The Matrix Resurrections on 4K

In an attempt to pay homage to its predecessors, The Matrix Resurrections feels clunky and excruciatingly mind-numbing. It does flourish in places with its philosophy (there’s a scene where the main villain comments on how fear and desire have the same code) and impressive production designs. However, most of the characterization and plot lines seem far too familiar and repetitive. 

The movie seems to pride itself with its self referential elements. There’s one scene with Thomas and his boss (Jonathan Groff), where the latter tells Thomas how they have to keep making the Matrix games just because Warner Bros, their main boss, has told them to. It feels like a cheeky and painfully self-aware jab at how the movie itself has been made. Lana Wachowski, along with sister Lily, had long held the belief that the trilogy had concluded in a satisfying manner and there was no need for another movie, despite Warner Bros repeated persuasion to do so. 

This highly meta element is further amplified when, in the immediate next scene, we see a bunch of geeky gamers and programmers discuss what made the Matrix franchise so popular. But instead of building upon it further to provide some grandiose plot turn or an insightful, philosophical commentary (both of which made the Matrix films famous), the movie quickly discards it. Instances like these make the film feel like it has an underlying, mildly (unintentional) comedic tone as opposed to the much serious tone of the previous films. The rich colourful appearance of the movie seems to support this further. Matrix Resurrections has stepped out of its dark, gritty green shade from the previous Matrix films. 

The Matrix Resurrections Review: Disappointing Fan Service
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus in The Matrix Resurrections (Credits: Warner Bros.)

Keanu Reeves delivers a commendable performance as a man struggling to make sense of what’s fiction and what’s reality. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II brings a refreshing charming energy to Morpheus, reminding us that replacing Lawrence Fishburne with him was not entirely a bad idea. The comparisons were inevitable but Yahya managed to carve out his own space in the void left behind by Fishburne. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Jonathan Groff, who replaces Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith. While Groff does his best with the jaw clenching and the famous “Mr. Anderson” shout, it just does not seem to carry the same threatening aura that Weaving commanded. Jessica Henwick is a delightful addition to the cast but her crew largely feels forgettable. The actors from the series Sense 8, a Wachowski masterpiece, remain severely underutilised here. Neil Patrick Harris shines in the role that he is given but talking about it too much might give away some heavy spoilers. 

Buy Boult AirBass Earbuds, Fast Charging, Water Resistant

Overall, The Matrix Resurrections feels like a hastily prepared fast food, just meant to sell the Matrix brand. This has become another one of those cases where corporatism of the big movie studios interferes with meaningful storytelling. 

The Matrix Resurrections is now playing in Indian theatres and also streaming on HBO Max.

Watch the trailer here

Author’s Biographical Note: Ritwik Jay completed his Bachelor’s in Physics, had a change of heart, and then decided to complete a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Ambedkar University, Delhi. Currently, he is working as an editor at Explore Screen.

Related posts: Spiderman No Way Home Review: A Wildly Entertaining Celebration of the Hero (Spoiler-Free)

Being The Ricardos Review: A Decent Show But Never A Showstopper

Mohd. Rafi: His Mesmerising Music and His Indisputable Legacy

From Around the web