This review is spoiler free.
There’s no denying the huge influence that The Matrix had on pop culture in 1999 and in the years since, its more popular, iconic and relevant – especially with advancements in virtual reality and real-world “Matrixes“. While sequels Reloaded and Revolutions may not be as beloved as the original, all three films blend thought-provoking science-fiction (fast becoming science fact) concepts alongside some truly brilliant action set-pieces, putting the Wachowskis up there as two of the most bold and exciting sci-fi directors in Hollywood. In an era of reboots and decades-later sequels, it seemed inevitable that we would re-enter the Matrix once more, and in the hands of a truly visionary director like Lana Wachowski, The Matrix Resurrections, it’s always going to be an exciting journey…
For one thing, Resurrections seems very much aware of its status, poking fun at the idea of a sequel/reboot to The Matrix in some fun meta gags, whilst recreating iconic moments as part of some elaborate deja vu sequences. Yet the film never feels overly self-referential, instead weaving the homages and call-backs into a more complex and nuanced narrative, one that returns to the fundamental question that fascinated audiences in 1999: what is real? How do you define real? How do you know you’re not living in the Matrix? The opening act is filled with trippy moments as the lines between fact and fiction blur for Keanu Reeves‘ Neo. Familiar characters return in unexpected ways (including Yahya Abdul-Manteen II as a new incarnation of Morpheus), while new characters are also given a chance to shine (Jessica Henwick is a notable highlight as new heroine Bugs). The ensemble cast throw themselves into the big action set-pieces – handled with slick energy and a great sense of style by Wachowski- with determination, while Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne Moss prove their iconic action star status twenty years later.
The screenplay weaves together complex themes and ideas, updating bits of terminology and technology to suit a 2021 audience whilst still posing familiar concepts and questions. There’s a sense that various aspects of the original three films are coalescing into a new finale – one more satisfying than Revolutions, the ending to which I’ve always felt a little disappointed by. One key strength compared to its predecessors is the focus on character – most notably Neo and Trinity’s relationship, and their attempts to find one another even when separated in a rebooted Matrix, but also in the supporting players, who all bring something to the story. There are plenty of twists and turns throughout, and while that 148-minute running time may seem daunting, Resurrections manages to tell a complete and satisfying tale, concluding the series on a really great final moment.
The Matrix Resurrections is perhaps the most bold and exciting blockbuster of the year, a worthy successor to the highly-influential trilogy that not only follows the same themes and story but is able to work as a unique and standalone feature. It’s great to see Neo and Trinity return, there’s plenty of big action sequences (best viewed on a massive IMAX screen), and it makes for a satisfying conclusion to The Matrix series.