TL;DR – most of what fans love returns in the fourth instalment of The Matrix franchise. Sixty years have passed since Neo sacrificed himself to save Zion. Have things improved between humans and machines? Well… marginally.
Review (warning: spoilers)
“Ah Neo, how I have missed thee…” This was the thought bubble that popped into my head when I saw the trailer for The Matrix Resurrections.
The sci-fi fan inside of me got giddy seeing the waterfall of green code, Keanu Reeves looking ageless as Neo, and the song White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane playing in the background. When Neo walks into a cafe and shakes Trinity’s hand (Carrie Anne-Moss also looking ageless), and Trinity asks, “Have we met?” The trailer had achieved its goal – it hooked me. The bullet time actions sequences that followed were simply a bonus.
More thought bubbles appeared:
- “Didn’t Trinity die in The Matrix Revolutions?”
- “Didn’t Neo sacrifice himself?”
- “How are they alive?”
- “Why doesn’t Trinity know him?”
Over two decades ago, back in 1999, a little known sci-fi film called The Matrix hit cinema screens and redefined how we look at the world. The character-driven dystopia with mind-blowing action sequences and special effects (that combined Hong Kong and Hollywood film techniques) became a worldwide box-office success that ensured sequels would be made. Two more Matrix films were released in 2003 completing, what was at the time, a trilogy.
Reactions from the second and third Matrix films were mixed, but they still smashed box office sales and ensured that the Wachowski directors never had to make another movie ever again. They have since collaborated and gone solo on other films/TV with mixed critical results.
In truth, while the trailer made me giddy, I did wonder why venture back into the Matrix for a fourth time when it felt like everything was wrapped up in the third one?
The story to be told is thus:
- Sixty years have passed since Neo and Trinity gave up their lives. And while the human race lives, the machines still exist and so does the Matrix. Some of the machines now live with humans in peace, but humanity is still under threat.
- After the machine wars sixty years prior, a program called the Analyst (played by Neil Patrick Harris) manages to resurrect Neo and Trinity. The Analyst has been designed to learn about the human psyche and discovers that plugging Neo and Trinity back into the Matrix while suppressing their memories allows for greater efficiency to generate power for the Matrix.
- With the above two points as the backdrop and premise, all you now need to do is pretend The Matrix Resurrections is the first The Matrix movie. The primary difference being that instead of Trinity trying to awaken Neo to the existence of the Matrix (as in the first film), this has the roles reversed where Neo has to awaken Trinity to the existence of the Matrix.
The third dot point above is an over-simplification of what happens in The Matrix Resurrections but really that is what we end up watching. Even a version of Morpheus (played now by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II instead of Lawrence Fishburne) and Agent Smith (played now by Jonathan Groff instead of Hugo Weaving) are resurrected; their new forms being a plot device so we do not realise, as the viewer, that they are actually Morpheus and Agent Smith in another form until later. The reason for their change in appearance centres around a resurrected Neo, with only faint memories of who he was, now living a life in the Matrix as a successful video game developer and creating a programming sandbox called a modal to develop and test characters, two of whom are Morpheus and Agent Smith.
The fact that the machines resurrect Neo and Trinity just so they can harness the unusual power they generate when they are in close proximity to each other shows that the machines can repeat their own mistakes. Plugging them both back into the Matrix to study the human psyche and generate power is an act of foolishness given the havoc and destruction the pair unleashed when they awoke and became aware of the Matrix’s existence in the first three films. But I guess even artificial intelligence can experience optimism.
Déjà vu is the name of the game. A plot device that is used in previous Matrix films and will make you feel like you’re experiencing déjà vu yourself when watching how The Matrix Resurrections unfolds. The film to me felt like a walk down memory lane as opposed to any sort of revelation. The chemistry is still palatable between Reeves and Anne-Moss; Groff is deliciously delightful as Agent Smith gone rogue; Abdul-Mateen II is less so as Morpheus; and Neil Patrick Harris ties it together as the main antagonist as the Analyst.
The ending is as expected. Neo and Trinity are freed from the Matrix and are a super powered duo that can recreate the Matrix however they want and awaken anyone they want.
When the credits roll, more than enough has happened that sets up for a sequel (or perhaps even a second trilogy). However, I have read that there will be no further telling of Neo and Trinity so the door may have finally closed on this cinematic series. Still, the Wachowskis said there would not be a fourth Matrix and here we are.
Perhaps in another two decades the waterfall of green code will appear again proclaiming Matrix 5’s arrival. Or perhaps we just need to take the red pill and see that we have been living in the Matrix all along…
6.5 out of 10