The Plot: Videogame designer Thomas (Keanu Reeves) finds himself questioning his reality. Plagued by distant memories and vivid dreams involving The Matrix, he encounters Tiffany (Carrie-Anne Moss) in a coffee shop. They have a moment, but then it passes. The Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris) tries to keep him in check, but Thomas begins to doubt. The answer might lie down the rabbit hole, courtesy of Bugs (Jessica Henwick) who encourages Thomas to take the red pill once more…
The Verdict: Mr Anderson, welcome back. We missed you. When The Matrix franchise concluded with a fragile but hopeful truce between the human survivors and the machines in 2003’s Revolutions, producer Joel Silver was asked if there would be more films in the series. He replied that it was the end of this particular story, but that there could be other stories to explore in this gravity-defying virtual reality. Fast forward nearly two decades later and a phone call from Lana Wachowski to Keanu Reeves about another Matrix film. Believing that his signature character Neo / Thomas Anderson was dead, she replied with a typically cryptic ‘are you?’. Nothing can be ruled out in the world of The Matrix, not even death. And here we find ourselves with The Matrix Resurrections, not so much an add-on film to the series but an invigorating refreshing of the formula to dazzle audiences like 1999 all over again.
‘Love is the genesis of everything’ is the dedication in the end credits to Wachowski’s late parents. Directing without her sister Lilly for the first film, Resurrections is a film that has its genesis in that very passing. It’s an optimistic film that resurrects its key characters once more, with a love for this world and where the story could be taken next. Wachowski’s script with David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon does something quite daring and almost fourth-wall-breaking for the first hour. It takes a deep deep deep dive into The Matrix lore, challenging audience perceptions of exactly where the story is going with just-what-the-hell-is-going-on moments. It very much plays like a tribute to the original trilogy, fan service taken to an even deeper level of programming than that of Spider-Man: No Way Home recently. It’s also surprisingly light and funny, as the audience shares their surrogate Thomas’ disorientation as he approaches that gloopy metallic mirror once more.
Where the story goes from there consistently surprises, not retreading old code but seeking out other doorways into and out of The Matrix with Wachowski as the Mad Hatter in charge. There are familiar returning faces (and a definite answer as to Laurence Fishburne’s absence) and some welcome new ones like Jessica Henwick’s Bugs, the catalyst that sets things in motion (or should that be bullet time slow motion?). At it heart though, it’s an emotional journey for Thomas and Tiffany. If the previous films were a complete story of The One, then Resurrections is ultimately a story of The Two. Reeves described it as a beautiful script and he’s not wrong about that. Wachowski and her production team have found a valid and convincing way to re-enter the world of The Matrix without sullying the reputation of the landmark original.
That was a cause for complaint in the serviceable sequels Reloaded and Revolutions, which focused a bit too much on ‘the real world’. Perhaps wary of that, Wachowski spends as much time as possible here plugged into the cyberpunk virtual reality that she and her sister created. The mystery box first hour is just a warm up for a thrilling and explosive finale, sending the special effects gurus into hyperdrive – but without the now-awkward-looking CGI of Reloaded’s over-the-top Burly Brawl. 2021 demands more finesse and the special effects work here combining live action and CGI is seamless, keeping it both real and unreal at the same time. There’s quite a lot take in here when it comes to story exposition – it’s as much about Revelations as Resurrections. It could potentially fall apart at a wrong turn, but Wachowski keeps one step ahead in bullet time to gel it all together in a satisfying manner with a rousing ending. Forget the blue pill. Take the red one and see just how deep this particular rabbit hole goes. Whoa indeed.
Rating: 4 / 5
Review by Gareth O’Connor
The Matrix Resurrections
The Matrix Resurrections (USA / 15A / 148 mins)
In short: Take the red pill
Directed by Lana Wachowski.
Starring Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jessica Henwick, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris.