THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS Review – Neo & Trinity Reminiscence

Oh, THE MATRIX. The 1999 Oscar winning triumph was equal parts a visual effects benchmark, a trippy mind-bender with Buddist teachings is a movie that is still referenced by many today, especially in the “Blue Pill” and “Red Pill” philosophies. It has been quoted, referenced and even spoofed to death over the years, even more recently in another Warner Bros. sequel SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY. It has been nearly two decades since the last movie, the forgettable THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, was unleashed on a bewildered audience. THE MATRIX trilogy was always one that never sat well with me; while I loved the 1999 original as it bent my mind and won Oscars over STAR WARS EPISODE 1 : THE PHANTOM MENACE that year…it then made fun of itself with two unnecessary sequels that had some similarity striking visuals but not enough charm or fun to withstand them like the iconic first movie.

Watching the new THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS, a wave of sadness fell over me. When it was 1999, I was a different kind of film fan. The energy, visual effects, sound design and even soundtrack were a product of the time. When you felt that bullet whiz around the room in slow motion, you not only saw it but you FELT it, all to the tune of Marilyn Manson and Rage Against The Machine. In this 2021 movie it’s too little too late; there’s really not much as it somewhat reboots with a few new characters, a couple of alternate takes on familiar characters and none of which are very interesting. 

Most of the opening focuses on the original movie as if it were a game by way of a new character named Bugs (Jessica Henwick) who is witnessing much of the original movie from another angle. That WOULD be interesting if we cared about the concept, but this feels more like hipster-crap retooling and bad timing as even the recent SPACE JAM movie did MATRIX references better. If there is a saving grace, is that there’s a somewhat interesting dynamic between Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie Anne-Moss), who are in an alternate reality here who don’t know each other. I never felt their love was very important in the original movie and was window dressing, but it seems to be life-or-death here for some reason. I will say that both Reeves and Moss have aged incredibly well and even to this day, they look great on the big screen.

If I feel like I’m ditching a plot description or analysis of THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS is because I totally am bypassing it. There is little to recommend here, even with Neil Patrick Harris in full Neil Patrick Harris mode here as a therapist who comes into play later in the movie in such a way that made my eyes roll. To make things worse, I don’t even think MATRIX RESURRECTIONS even LOOKS very good. The original had a pre-digital, celluloid shot with crazy complicated visual effects work to slow down time. Now that the effects have emulated through decades of filmed media (ironically, a new car commercial that played before my screening was MATRIX-inspired), we need something even more creative to break apart from the mold, but none of it works. Here it’s too clean and sterile, and its digital video look even stands out when it shouldn’t. While a lot of the same shot composition and angles are here, there’s a look and feel that is totally missing in 2021. The returning Lana Wachowski, who I felt has slipped from the grand and complicated CLOUD ATLAS, feels more in line with the failure of JUPITER ASCENDING. 

Whether this will be looked at as a reboot or some kind of alternate original movie will be up to the viewer, and of course I encourage everyone interested to see it and evaluate it for themselves. From this perspective, as someone who is fascinated with the original movie, this one left me both wanting more and making me long for a different time in sci-fi cinema. 

THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS is now playing in theatres. 

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