In yet another sequel none of us wanted and nobody asked for, “The Matrix: Resurrections” is a case of a sequel-remake-reboot hybrid that’s not exactly good, but not exactly terrible, either. With director Lana Wachowski at the helm, most of the action scenes and visuals are stunning. It’s the story that’s still as convoluted as ever. A basic knowledge of the “Matrix” universe is absolutely essential if you want a prayer of understanding anything that is going on in this film.
Neo (Keanu Reeves) is alive and well, but is his existence a physical reality or mental construct? The answer to these questions lie inside the Matrix, and Neo has to go back inside to get them. It’s a dangerous task, but with the help of hackers and machines, our hero is up to the challenge. The plot is complex yet simple, and it’s not easy to write a synopsis because half the time it’s impossible to follow what’s going on.
The story borrows heavily from the original series of films and makes some slight changes, presenting a near-total rehash of the first movie. Some of the scenes (and even lines of dialogue) are almost identical to the movie’s predecessors. It’s the same movie with slight changes, much like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” or “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” and it relies too much on nostalgia and the goodwill of sci-fi fans.
There’s little originality, and the screenplay is a chain of labyrinthine plots and subplots that try to explain away any holes and prevent David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon from writing themselves into a corner. This makes everything unclear and too complex, existing under the guise that if you can’t follow along, it’s because you aren’t smart enough to understand (which 99.99 percent of the time is untrue). In all fairness, every single one of the Matrix films could use a little simplification in the story department, and all of them are guilty of using the scapegoat of “if it doesn’t make sense, let’s just say it’s not part of the present reality.” Problem solved.
While the performances are wooden and bland, the visual effects are anything but. They are flawless, especially in the eye-popping finale that’s an extravagant, extended action sequence through the streets of San Francisco. The cinematography (by Daniele Massaccesi and John Toll) is polished and gorgeous. This is one great looking movie.
Despite creating a serious sense of déjà vu for fans, “The Matrix: Resurrections” will never be a beloved classic nor a cinematic game changer like the 1999 original — but it’s not designed to be. There’s a moment in the film where a character pokes fun of critics and fans, stating that “great art has been ruined by reboots.” It’s a wink and a nod that was intended to be clever, but instead is just a reminder that it’s absolutely true.