Review | The Matrix Resurrections plugs us in one more time


The Matrix Resurrections | Dir: Lana Wachowski | From 26th Dec | ★ ★ ★

When The Matrix arrived in 1999 it make a huge impact, a mind-blowing story, a great line-up of actors, a good dose of influence from Hong Kong action films, and some special effects that were groundbreaking for their time.

It told the story of Thomas Anderson, a man spends his time online using the moniker Neo. He discovers the world is not real, it’s all a computer simulation. After choosing to take the red pill, he wakes up to discover he’s really living in a post apocalyptic future where humans are fighting machines. As Neo, he sets off to find out if he is ‘the one’ prophesied to save humanity.

Two sequels quickly followed, and while I’m normally first in the line for the next installment of a franchise, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions didn’t meet expectations, and I kinda wished they’d just left it as a single film. Now two decades later we’re given a fourth episode, taking us once more into the world of false realities, morphing agents and rushing to get to the phone.

Woah, wait – that’s not going to work, we all got rid of our land lines. Yes, one of the first challenges the Matrix has to address is the distinct lack of public phone boxes in 2022. Superman feels their pain. In this version of the Matrix people leap in and out of mirrors. It’s unconfirmed where you end up if you run into a wardrobe.

Keanu Reaves is back, so is Carrie-Anne Moss, and Jada Pinkett Smith returns as Niobe. Joining the cast is Yahya Abdul-Mateen II who plays an alternative version of Morpheus, plus there’s Jonathon Groff, Neil Patrick Harris and Christina Ricci.

Jessica Henwick delivers a memorable performance as Bugs, she previously appeared in Game of Thrones as Nymeria Sand.

Bugs is the blue haired captain of the Mnemosyne, a small vessel that taps into the Matrix and finds Neo back in the false reality living once again as game designer Thomas Anderson. He feels a strong connection to a woman he sees at his local coffee shop. In this new alternative version of the online world Trinity is a woman named Tiffany, who is married with children, popping in for a latte while doing the school run.

After all the adventures and battles of the first three movies, Neo and Trinity it seems ended up back in the Matrix once more, and have just been growing old, while Neo has been spending a lot of time with his therapist talking about his crazy dreams. It’s a reset that allows us to do it all again, as soon as Mr Anderson swallows the red pill.

The Matrix Resurrections is a visually stunning film, and it delivers bigger gun fights than the previous three films, it’s martial arts sequences are bigger too, it’s chases are longer and move faster,  the buildings people are leaping off are taller then ever. Which results in a lot of bang, bang bang, slap, slap, slap, boom, bap, kapow, run… and repeat.

The story weaves itself around the original movie, and features many sequences from the original film. I went back and re-watched the original films before heading to the new movie, there’s no need to, it shows a lot of the original film to jog your memory.

If you’re looking for more of the same, the film certainly delivers. It’s action packed, filled with effects and is visually quite stunning.

The impact of the original film though was because it was more than a sci-fi action adventure. It had something to say about destiny, life choices and how you view the world. As it’s sibling directors ‘The Wachowskis’ have both transitioned gender since the original film was released, it has also been described as an allegory for the experience of gender dysphoria. The film’s key phrase of ‘take the red pill’ has been co-opted by right wing conspiracy theorists, and there’s probably a wide variety of readings of what this film means.

I have to admit there was a point last year when I found myself wondering if we had actually entered the Matrix – Donald Trump was President of the USA, a virus was spreading across the globe, The Avalanches were releasing music regularly, and Hungry Jacks brought back The Yumbo. There were signs to question if the world was real.

Does the fourth edition of The Matrix have anything to say about the state of the world, the meaning of existence, the challenge of finding out who we really are? Not so much, but the gun battles are impressive.

It is great to see Carrie-Anne Moss having a prominent role in the film, all too often Hollywood discards it female actors for younger matches, The Matrix was a breakout role for Moss, who prior to her casting in the sci-fi epic was best known to audiences for her role as Carrie Spencer in the short lived Melrose Place spin-off Models Inc. She’s gone on to work consistently in film and television but its easy to imagine a producer proposing recasting with a younger actress. It’s awesome to see her here.

The Matrix Resurrections is in cinemas on Boxing Day.

Graeme Watson

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