My favorite film of all time, ladies and gentlemen, is finally back after 18 years with another installment in the classic franchise: The Matrix Resurrections. It was next to impossible for me to keep my cool with this movie once I realized it was real; I longed to return to this world; to actually see a Matrix film on the silver screen again…..
….and would you believe, I shit you not, this actually isn’t all that bad. Maybe it’s bias on my behalf but I don’t believe for a single second that they didn’t, at least, try with this one.
Compared to the previous films, the acting is WAY WAY BETTER. Everybody is actively trying and thriving in their respective roles: Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, in particular, look like they’ve never even left and their characters’ dynamic together does supply the beating heart for the film similar to before. Jonathan Groff, similar to Hugo Weaving, is the show-stopper by a wide margin, Yahya balances the coolness of Morpheus as best as he can and Jessica Henwick’s Bugs is an immediate fan-favorite upon closer inspection.
Indisposed is probably the best manner in which to describe Lana Wachowski’s directing here, however: she comes off rather cynical, being forced into making another movie to a franchise that she, her sister and a lot of people held dear AND SHE WAS NOT SUBTLE ABOUT THAT. But luckily, she doesn’t entirely half-ass it: she gives most scenes enough of her attention to where it feels like a semi-natural progression while harboring her and her sister’s signature trademarks from before.
To give itself credit, the cinematography is solid with lots of memorable shots and angles and executions but the only downside to that are the action sequences.
The vibrant over-the-top anime battles that invested the sequels? Dumbed down and nowhere near the kinetic frantic pace of the choreography that Yuen Woo-ping perfected previously; sure, there’s some snappy choreography and some really nice special effects that accompany it. But the editing really doesn’t make it all that memorable.
Updated special effects help uphold the look and the style of the production design that encompassed the original film while refining itself with a cleaner, if not, less buggy coat of code to it….despite some seam in the cracks. Not to mention, combining the
hypnotizing and haunting quality of the second film while inching slightly into the mysterious allure of the first? Chef’s kiss.
And yet…..the same can’t be said for the overall presentation. We’re stuck with a rather faulty structure that can’t keep a consistent pacing to save its life; either too fast one moment or to slow the next and it didn’t help matters that this was the first Matrix film in which I’ve noticed that. Dialogue is still rather dull, and I don’t even think the film lives up to its R-rating.
Every Matrix movie finds a way to wrap me around its little finger with its story in some way and this one is invariably no exception.
Going back to the first movie to stretch out the whole Deja Vu thing into a 2 hour spectacle was something I didn’t mind; in fact, I actually thought this was one of the few instances in which I felt like it actually meant sense for Neo to go through the events of the first film again but differently: having nostalgia fuel the story ahead. The story even supports that by having a lot of meta commentary involved about the perpetual state of rebooting an old IP when nobody wants it, how the banality of life can drive you mad if you focus on it and how we tend to just want to consume the same predictable art over and over again even though we know its stale. Now like I just said, Lana was not subtle about that. But considering this tackles the tried-and-true ‘fate vs choice’ dynamic that empowered the previous installments, the rather constant winking and shift in tone didn’t take me out of the movie as much as I expected because there was a purpose for it being there.
It is a fairly long movie and the first half of it is REALLY DAMN SOLID! But the harrowing shadow that dangles that hypothetical carrot over your head begins to butt in around the second half and the lack of any aforementioned tension or suspense becomes apparent. I’ll forever miss the dark cyberpunk dystopian setting and green tint of the original three, more retcons are presented and can we just talk about how if you take the Merovingian out of the movie, I doubt a single damn thing about the plot would change? I can understand Smith and Niobe but him? Come on.
Having watched the previous three movies consistently did help me raise my enjoyment of this movie up by a few notches but all I wanted out of this movie was ‘Give me a reason why this should exist’. If the first film is about childhood, the second film about teenage years and the the third film about adulthood, then I’d say the fourth film is the mid-life crisis stage…..and I mean that in more ways than one. Outside of WB effectively taking something the directors cared about and threatened to exploit the IP with or without them, the fact that Lana beat me over the head with this and I didn’t care…..that should tell you what I think about this situation.
Even with that, Lana managed to get some really clever ideas and executions out of a situation she didn’t want to be apart of. But this franchise, assuming it even continues, would work better in the hands of another director.