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THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS (2021) Review – Neo Is Back!

Check out James’ review of Lana Wachowski’s THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS, in UK cinemas from December 22, 2021.

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The Matrix Resurrections (Warner Bros. Pictures)

There tends to be a fair bit of pessimism when it comes to reviving, or in this case resurrecting, a franchise. Especially one that has been dormant for so long. The Matrix Resurrections definitely didn’t avoid that type of thinking, but as the release date drew nearer it seemed that most people were open to the idea of more Keanu Reeves (which, let’s face it, is always a good thing) and another adventure in the Matrix. On top of that, The Matrix isn’t your typical blockbuster. It never has been. So for Lana Wachowski to plug back in, there must have been a legitimate reason. A reason to revive both Neo and Trinity. What more could the Matrix offer us beyond what we’ve already experienced almost two decades ago? Well, it turns out that going down the digital rabbit hole that is the Matrix will unearth new threats, new heroes, familiar faces, and an entirely new reality.

So where do we find ourselves in The Matrix Resurrections? There’s a lot to unpack and the less we say, the better. Experiencing Resurrections with very little information is the best way to enjoy Neo and Trinity’s return to the big screen. With spoiler-culture becoming an increasingly more prevalent movement, especially in trailers, there’s always that fear of being shown too much. However, we’ve only been shown what they want us to see… And there is so much more to The Matrix Resurrections than meets the eye.

In The Matrix Resurrections, we return to a world of two realities: one, everyday life; the other, what lies behind it. To find out if his reality is a physical or mental construct, to truly know himself, Mr. Anderson has to choose to follow the white rabbit once more. And if Thomas…Neo…has learned anything, it’s that choice, while an illusion, is still the only way out of—or into—the Matrix. Of course, Neo already knows what he has to do. But what he doesn’t yet know is the Matrix is stronger, more secure and more dangerous than ever before.

Essentially, Mr Anderson has to relearn what he has already learnt. While that may sound awfully familiar, it’s actually executed in a very unique way that untilizes nostalgia, not just as a tool to bring in those yearning fans, but as a story device. It would be bizarre if Resurrections ignored the events of the previous movies, but what it does instead is genius. In fact, it’s safe to say that Resurrections revels in the past. It acknowledges the previous movies and actually uses footage in a way that completely changes the way the Matrix works. It’s almost as though the Matrix is mocking Neo with some sort of meta gag that dabbles in intertextuality and self-awareness. There’s an amusing irony to Neo’s life in the Matrix and it was one of the coolest elements of The Matrix Resurrections purely because its implementation is unlike anything we’ve seen before. Avengers: Endgame, for example, took us back to iconic moments but what Resurrections does is entirely unique, playful and to a degree… Very tragic.

With Resurrections being very dependent on the previous movies, there are of course a lot of throwbacks. Fantastic throwbacks, actually. As previously mentioned, the original trilogy plays a huge role in shaping Neo’s journey in Resurrections. The film’s are also used as a gateway to connect the past and present. With familiar dialogue and scenes that transition from present to past, Resurrections is always letting both Neo and the audience know that something is wrong and unnatural. Fans will surely be delighted to see the original films contribute so heavily in this long awaited sequel. It was almost impossible to suppress a smile whenever the past and present blended together either through dialogue, brilliant transitions, or through established characters that have resurfaced. It’d be wrong to say that The Matrix Resurrections was purely made for the super fans, but the level of enjoyment sky rockets when each familiar beat hits that nostalgic chord perfectly. However, it feels as though Resurrections was limited in terms of its scope because of its intense relationship with the past. There’s no denying that its ability to use nostalgia makes for a very fun experience. But it feels as though there was an opportunity to go further and they didn’t take it. It didn’t hinder the experience for us, but there was definitely an element of disappointment when the film looked to be doing something fresh only to then revert back to safety.

It’s not a stretch to say that The Matrix helped redefine the Science-Fiction genre. With its incredible use of both practical and special effects, its wild dive into alternate realities, cybernetic intelligence, and conundrums concerning free will, The Matrix was able to completely separate itself and stand out amongst the sea of sci-fi movies… And to this day, it still holds that mantle. The Matrix Resurrections had a lot to live up to and while it doesn’t surpass it’s predecessor it is still an awesomly ambitious and visually stunning ride. Each Matrix movie always brought something to the table that upped the ante, whether it be an exciting fight or an infinite wave of Agent Smiths, there was always something there that pushed the technical and physical boundaries.

The Matrix Resurrections still continues that tradition. Not only is Resurrections a visual and sensory overload in the best possible way, it also perfectly captures the spirit of The Matrix with its mind-bending and imaginative fight sequences, and there are a lot of them. A particular highlight involves an insane motorcycle chase and the Matrix launching every trick up its sleeve. It is truly a mind-blowing and explosive movie with well choreographed fights that evoke that feeling that many of us felt when watching The Matrix for the first time, and plenty of epic scenes that will have audiences well and truly mesmorised. The One is back and he isn’t afraid to show it.

Now, that’s just looking at the action side of Resurrections. Wait until you’re dragged out of the Matrix and into the bleak yet hopeful world that remains. There’s something haunting yet beautiful about Zion and the world that the machines rule and Resurrections does a fantastic job at bringing it back to life while also showing us something different. You’ll meet a few new machines and characters while also being immersed in a new world born from Neo’s sacrifice. The rules are different, the stakes are higher, but the enemy remains the same.

A lot of The Matrix Resurrections thrives on its ability to revisit the past. While it is a definite highlight, it does prevent this new installment from trying something completely different. We learn that the Matrix is capable of so much more, yet we are restricted to pretty much the same. This may be an issue for a lot of people who wanted something different, and it definitely prevented the film from going beyond what it is, but it’s hard to deny the sheer fun and visual treat that is The Matrix Resurrections. It’s a visually stunning and nostalgic return to the Matrix which will both divide fans and unite fans.

⭐⭐⭐.5

The Matrix Resurrections stars Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jona, Chrstina Ricci, Telma Hopkins, Eréndira Ibarra, Toby Onwumere, Max Riemelt, Brian J. Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.

The film will be released nationwide on 22nd December 2021 by Warner Bros. Pictures. All three films in the original trilogy are available to own digital and on 4K Ultra HD now.


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