There is a moment in the second act of Lana Wachowski’s new The Matrix Resurrections that Jada (Why did they make her look so old?) Pinkett Smith’s character Niobe says to Neo/Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves), “We’re trying to make sense of who made this mess.” So, am I, Niobe. So am I.
Let’s be clear now, so you can stop reading if you’d like – The Matrix: Resurrections, which we have covered for the better part of two years, is a terrible film. But even worse, it’s an unnecessary film. And if I sound angry about it, I am.
When I saw The Matrix in 1999 it affected me – both as a filmmaker and a film fan. The film with its jaw-dropping special effects, world-building mythology and epic story broke new ground on many levels. While the sequels never lived up to the original, they are still watchable as each had its own positives.
Also, The Matrix: Revolutions did manage to give closure to the story. Neo died. Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) died. Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) died. And the machines and humans found peace. While the sequels are generally panned and frowned upon, they did pay off those who remained invested in Neo and Trinity’s story.
Which leaves us with the wholly unnecessary The Matrix: Resurrections. When we are reacquainted with Thomas, we discover he has been hidden in The Matrix as a miserable and suicidal video game developer. Thomas is experiencing an existential crisis and is being kept on blue pills by his therapist and the film’s obvious villain, Neal Patrick Harris, whose blue glasses look like they were loaned to him by one of the Wachowski sisters,
Early in the film, Thomas has been tasked with creating a sequel to his popular video game trilogy – you guessed it, The Matrix. It’s here writer/director Wachowski and writers, David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon, derail the film by going for an attitude of smugness and “oh we’re more clever than anyone else” as they create an entire first act that’s meta. The three attempt to deliver social commentary on what it’s like for a 50-year-older (Anderson) to work at a Millennial company. Complete with coffee. The entire exercise is cringeworthy.
Eventually, Thomas meets Carrie-Anne Moss’ new character Tiffany at a coffee shop. Tiffany resembles the heroine in his video game, with who Thomas is in love with and obsesses over. However, Tiffany is now married with kids.
But, their love story is the one thing that works in The Matrix Resurrections. And it’s honestly, the only reason for this film to exist. But their love story is interrupted by constant flashbacks and exposition dumps from Iron Fist’s Jessica Henwick.
Making a sequel should never have been this difficult, but this is a 150-minute experience in wasting time truly is. The film’s length would be cut in half if just the flashbacks to the epic first film were left on the cutting room floor. Why ask us to believe the excellent Yahya Abdul Mateen II is now Morpheus and keep showing us scenes of Laurence Fishbourne? The same with Jonathan Goff as the rebooted Agent Smith. Why?
REELated: First social media reactions are in for Matrix Resurrections
The originality and inventiveness that even existed in The Matrix sequels are gone here. The intriguing dialogue has been wiped like an errant file. The fight scenes are pedestrian and underwhelming. The driving, inventive score by Don Davis… gone.
Disney+’s Hawkeye had better fight sequences. Spider-Man: No Way Home did as well. Wachowski has brought nothing new to the table, making the film a complete disappointment for those hoping to revisit the world. By the time the credits roll, you will wonder why she felt a need to make it other than cash in on the IP.
Ah, that would be the executives at Warner Bros looking to cash in. Aside from Dune, King Richard and The Suicide Squad, this year has been mostly a slate of mediocre to bad films from the WB. I’m looking at you Many Saints of Newark, Space Jam, Tom and Jerry, Mortal Kombat, Godzilla vs Kong, Wonder Woman 1984. Toss The Matrix: Resurrections on that pile.
Some will disagree with my assessment of The Matrix Resurrections and think of it as some existential film that I am too “Boomer” to understand as the film is delivering thought-provoking and inspired social commentary.
No. The film is simply bad.
The Matrix Resurrections should never have been revisited in this form. They should have let “The One” die in The Matrix Revolutions and allow whatever iterations of Neo, Trinity, Morpheus, and Smith to sleep peacefully in their pods.
Instead of dragging them into this jumbled mess of a film. Where’s my blue pill?
Lana Wachowski directed The Matrix: Resurrections from a screenplay by Wachowski & David Mitchell & Aleksander Hemon, based on characters created by The Wachowskis. The film was produced by James McTeigue, Lana Wachowski and Grant Hill. The executive producers were Garrett Grant, Terry Needham, Michael Salven, Karin Wachowski, Jesse Ehrman and Bruce Berman.
Wachowski’s creative team behind the scenes included Sense8 collaborators: directors of photography Daniele Massaccesi and John Toll, production designers Hugh Bateup and Peter Walpole, editor Joseph Jett Sally, costume designer Lindsay Pugh, visual effects supervisor Dan Glass, and composers Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer.
Other Matrix returnees include Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe, Lambert Wilson as The Merovingian, and Daniel Bernhardt as Agent Johnson. Also joining the cast will be Andrew Caldwell, Priyanka Chopra, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Ellen Hollman, Eréndira Ibarra, Toby Onwumere, Christina Ricci, Max Riemelt, and Brian J. Smith.
The Matrix Resurrections is in theaters and on HBO Max.
BOTTOM LINE: The Matrix Resurrections is a REEL SKIP.
The Geek is a working screenwriter, director and screenwriting instructor.