Despite dazzling tech and effects, ‘The Matrix Resurrections’ blunders a once groundbreaking franchise
The newly released film features a stale Keanu Reeves, confusing plotline and a surprising support cast
By Freddy Moyano
Chicago-native sisters Lana and Lilly Wachowski have accomplished a lot in the last 25 years.
Besides the birth of the Matrix franchise, the duo is responsible for the film adaption of “V for Vendetta,” “Speed Racer,” and the wonderfully woven mystery, sci-fi thriller series “Sense8.”
Despite their deep catalog and an evolving world in the palm of their hands, not a lot made sense after finishing the recently released “The Matrix Resurrections,” now available in theaters and on HBO Max.
If you are a fan of the Matrix franchise, by all means, watch the film. For those not deep into the cyber-verse, this film is a steep 148-minute mountain to climb. Given the reported $150 million budget attached to this release, I was hoping for better writing. While it is a given that there is nothing new under the sun, the screenplay suffered from a lack of originality, resourcefulness and straightforward motion.
There are promising parts that reminded me of “Inception” (2010), but even the weakest portions of “Joker” (2019)—such as the psychology sessions or the crowds cheering for Joaquin Phoenix’s character on the dark streets of Gotham—proved to be way stronger than Neo’s face-to-face time with Neil Patrick Harris or the crowds attempting to stop Neo and Trinity’s “rushing parade” towards the last stages of this steep endeavor.
The film dabbles in “parallel timelines” techniques—which worked so well in the Stephen King Hulu series “Castle Rock”—but lacks the same flow in this new installment. Even as a self-proclaimed Matrix fan, I had a hard time trying to comprehend why Neo or Niobe are who they are in this story or why there are living in the times they are.
Plot aside, I did enjoy seeing new supporting faces to the Matrix tetralogy. “Sense8” definitely remains an influence here as emerging Texan talent Brian J. Smith plays Berg, a strong supporting character to the large range of main characters. Priyanka Chopra Jonas as Sati manages to add a touch of oracle vibe to “Resurrections.” I would have liked to see more of Max Riemelt (whose best work is that of Bogdanow in, you guessed, “Sense8”), but he did not get as much screen time as I hoped. Christina Ricci’s almost cameo appearance was a bit unnecessary.
As for the main cast, Carrie-Anne Moss starts on the soft side of things but finishes strong. As for John Wick’s version of Neo, it fell rather short. Even Harrison Ford moved a lot faster in the late fourth sequel of “Indiana Jones.” I respect Keanu Reeve’s work, but his appearance here (versus a new actor playing Neo, why not?) suffered from lack of character. Neil Patrick Harris, playing the role of Analyst, was quite well-grounded as an evildoer in all of his scenes. He hides well his intentions and keeps the audience wondering about what ace he might or might not have up his sleeve.
Jonathan Groff was lack-laster as a bad guy. He lacked the tough guy touch Hugo Weaving used to display so well in the first three films. It’s likely that Groff’s comedy-filled performance as King George III in the worldwide musical success “Hamilton” set such a high standard that it was to not think of his funny royal face that brought him to stardom.
Jessica Henwick (more known for her role of Nymeria Sand in “Game of Thrones” a decade ago) was perhaps one of the reasons making “Resurrections” still worth watching for the average fan. She became fully immersed in her role as Bugs and she had great dialogues and choreography moves worth remembering.
“Resurrections” did provide some jaw-dropping special and computer-generated effects, much like the original trilogy. Unfortunately, the costume design, which was a huge highlight in the first three films, fell flat in this one.
Whatever is in store for the future of the Matrix, be it a Morpheus-based prequel or a fully rewritten storyline, the franchise needs a hard reset to return to its former glory.
Born and raised in Madrid, Spain, Freddy Moyano has spent almost two decades in Northeast Wisconsin working as an actor, voiceover artist, film editor and entrepreneur. Moyano has produced over 20 motion pictures and earned international recognition such as Best Nature/Wildlife Film Jean Luc Godard Award in 2020. He is the founder and a director of Green Bay-based, international film festival, MLC Awards. Find more information about Moyano and the MLC awards at www.mlcawards.com and www.imdb.me/freddymoyano.