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THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS gets 6/10


Directed by Lana Wachowski
Starring Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jonathan Groff

6/10

Given the finality of The Matrix: Revolutions, intrigue abounded when news that a fourth installment of the powerhouse franchise would be hitting our shores. Confusion abated somewhat with the release of the title – The Matrix Resurrections, giving more than a clue as to the method of Neo’s return. Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, the only main cast members returning as Neo and Trinity respectively, face through their characters down the challenge of re-embodying a person you once were, that you have in all likelihood, forgotten how to be.

Thomas Anderson, a successful, talented and famous game developer, sits simultaneously bored and irritable in his top floor office, a perfect big city skyline is broken by the falling of the resplendent late afternoon sun. Tom barely notices – he has two games to supervise across his five monitors. His menacing boss is looking to squeeze more production goodness out of him though, and to Tom’s chagrin, has asked him to revisit his first breakout game, the one that put him on the map.

Tom doesn’t want to go back and reattempt something he already perfected twenty years ago. He hates reboots (get it?). It is about this point that Resurrections seeps into highly self-aware meta references, at once infecting the script with off-brand cutesy pokes at its own subservience to “The Hollywood Machine,” and leaning hard on the established lore showcased within iconic scenes from the first three offerings by splashing them across the film, intended to rekindle the mojo of both the audience and our hero.

The Matrix was a film which exposed audiences to concepts and techniques we’d not yet dreamed of. A triumph of cinematography and packed with moving parts, it still resides within that distinguished cranny of pop-culture royalty and technical brilliance. Comparing Resurrections with its alpha predecessor may be as relevant as comparing the fourth iteration of the actual Matrix to the first, but the machine that Mr. Anderson slaved to, that we all slaved to, back in 1999, was a hamster wheel compared to the screen-heavy digitalia we slog through in 2021.

Certain established characters are realised again, with varying effectiveness. Yahya Abdul Mateen II and Jonathan Groff throw everything they have at their reimagining of Morpheus and Smith, and whilst ultimately The Matrix is the story of the bond shared between Neo and Trinity, the absence of Laurence Fishburne’s gravitas and Hugo Weaving’s iconic snarl is too often felt in what seems more like a Netflix Matrix than one that deserves to stand with the first three.

Strewn within the pontification, Resurrections hits all the familiar allegorical beats across its two and a half hour running time, the deja-vu-within-a-loop-doubling-back-on-a-treadmill rabbit hole effectively disorienting to Tom and the viewer alike; an achievement hard to appreciate when you’re getting nudged with an elbow so forcefully, but it does conceal the occasional plot development. After watching this you’re likely to find yourself still searching, certain there must be a black cat lurking about.

CAIN CIALLELLA

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