The Matrix Resurrections: 5 Things That Worked (& 5 That Didn’t)

The Matrix Resurrections: 5 Things That Worked (& 5 That Didn’t)

Lana Wachowski’s fourth Matrix movie, The Matrix Resurrections, was approached with skepticism. The original Matrix film still holds up as a timeless sci-fi action masterpiece, but the previous sequels – The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions – had both been panned by critics and dismissed by fans. Tagging a fourth movie on the decades-old trilogy didn’t seem necessary and the trailers marked a radical visual departure from the series’ familiar green-tinged look.

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When the movie hit theaters, fans and critics were polarized by it. The performances are terrific and the themes are surprisingly relevant, but the plot is muddled and the action doesn’t live up to the explosive set-pieces of the groundbreaking original. The Matrix Resurrections is neither a masterpiece nor a complete disaster; some things in the movie work, but others sadly don’t.

2 Things That Worked

Keanu Reeves & Carrie-Anne Moss’ On-Screen Chemistry

Lana Wachowski was clearly inspired to make a fourth Matrix film by her affection for Neo and Trinity as characters. Resurrections puts their relationship in the spotlight. All the external action serves Neo’s quest to reunite with the love he was convinced he’d imagined.

The perfectly matched Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss effortlessly slipped back into these roles with the same electric on-screen chemistry that made the original trilogy’s romantic arc such a delight.

Modernizing The Original Trilogy’s Themes

Online conspiracy theories have made the notion that the human race lives in a computer simulation commonplace. But back when the first Matrix movie hit theaters, it was a brand-new idea that took the world by storm.

The need for free will was the central theme of the original Matrix trilogy and Lana Wachowski updates this commentary for the social media age in The Matrix Resurrections. In Resurrections, Neo’s free will gives him control – even after spending 60 years in a digital prison.

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II As Young Morpheus

Nobody could replace Laurence Fishburne in the role of Morpheus, but rising star Yahya Abdul-Mateen II comes pretty darn close with his portrayal of a Morpheus variant in The Matrix Resurrections.

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Like Ewan McGregor’s turn as young Obi-Wan, Abdul-Mateen avoids shallowly imitating his iconic predecessor’s performance. He captures the original Morpheus’ ice-coolness with a fresh, more youthful take on the character.

Trinity Is “The One” (Or She And Neo Are “The Two”)

The best retcon in The Matrix Resurrections suggests that maybe Neo wasn’t “The One” after all. The end of the movie insinuates that Trinity is “The One” – or maybe she and Neo are collectively “The Two.” This arc solidifies The Matrix saga as a love story.

Neo was never motivated by his destiny to become a messianic savior; he was driven by his love for Trinity. In The Matrix Resurrections, Trinity inherits Neo’s power of flight and they team up to reshape the oppressive program with fairer ethics.

Fierce Originality

Sequels are inherently derivative – especially so-called “legacy sequels” designed to evoke nostalgia through self-referential nods – but with The Matrix Resurrections, Lana Wachowski managed to figure out an original approach.

Love it or hate it, The Matrix Resurrections is a unique movie. It sets out to do something no sequel has ever done before. Wachowski’s script takes the concept of a “reboot” quite literally since the franchise’s entire world is built around a computer program.

1 Things That Didn’t Work

Over-The-Top Self-Awareness

In an early Matrix Resurrections scene, the new Agent Smith tells Thomas Anderson that Warner Bros. is demanding a Matrix reboot and will make one without the original creator if necessary. This dialogue seems like an open admission from Lana Wachowski that she only made this fourth Matrix movie to prevent the studio from making an even worse fourth Matrix movie.

From there, the movie gets way too meta – and sets the audience up for disappointment. How can viewers be expected to get excited about a movie that isn’t even excited about itself? A big chunk of The Matrix Resurrections takes place in a writers’ room as a bunch of writers brainstorm what a fourth Matrix movie could be about.

Aimless Storytelling

The Matrix Resurrections plods through its aimless script like an open-world video game with mirror portals and far too many exposition-filled cutscenes. Wachowski is more interested in introducing disparate ideas than telling a cohesive narrative.

Thomas Anderson is writing The Matrix 4 while trapped in the Matrix itself. The humans and machines are now working together in the real world. All these plot points float around in Resurrections without ever coming together in a satisfying way.

Jonathan Groff As The New Agent Smith

Whereas Yahya Abdul-Mateen II succeeded admirably with the daunting task of filling Laurence Fishburne’s shoes as Morpheus, Jonathan Groff doesn’t come close to living up to Hugo Weaving’s iconic legacy in the role of Agent Smith.

RELATED: 10 Questions We Still Have After The Matrix Resurrections

Groff’s Smith has twice the smarm and none of the charm of Weaving’s. This performance misses what made Smith such a great arch-nemesis and turns him into a generic corporate-suit baddie.

Lackluster Action Sequences

The original Matrix film is one of the most beloved and groundbreaking action movies ever made. On top of making audiences question their reality, the Wachowskis blew their minds with explosive set-pieces like the lobby shootout and the subway fight, captured with game-changing effects like “bullet time.” Even the other maligned sequels had some acclaimed action sequences, like the freeway chase in The Matrix Reloaded.

Despite the fact that John Wick is in the movie, The Matrix Resurrections doesn’t have a single memorable action scene. The film’s messy action lacks clarity, thanks to an overuse of Zack Snyder-style super slow-motion. Neo swaps out martial arts for superpowered smackdowns. The climactic zombie attack is kind of fun, but the protagonists never seem to be in any real danger.

No Ambiguity

The Matrix Resurrections opens with the daring notion that maybe the entire Matrix trilogy was imagined by a video game developer who’s starting to lose his grip on reality as he begins to believe the stories he fabricated.

But the movie eschews the ambiguity of its predecessors and assures the audience early on that Neo’s adventures in and out of the Matrix did really happen and he’s being tricked by another nefarious villain. This takes all the tension out of Neo’s journey and makes Resurrections an unengaging slog.

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The Matrix Resurrections is neither a masterpiece nor a complete disaster; some things in the movie work, but others sadly don’t.

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