Morpheus said the following in the first Matrix movie: “Unfortunately, no one can be told what The Matrix is. You’ll have to see it for yourself.” And I share that feeling when it comes to 2021’s The Matrix Resurrections. I am about to share my spoiler-ish opinion (you’ve been warned) on the film, but I encourage you to see it.
TL;DR: It has been a long time since I’ve seen a movie that tried as hard as it did to be clever as the new Matrix installment while utterly failing to present anything of substance.
It doesn’t need to exist – but it does now… So, let’s talk about it.
I will start off complimenting parts of the movie because I do think there are a few (and I mean “a few”) worthwhile things dropped in Resurrections.
Neil Partick Harris is a Great Villain No – I’m not saying that The Analyst (his character) is a well-written villain with amazin motivations, etc. But, I am saying that NPH owns the role and is far and away one of my favorite portions of the movie. He’s an interesting enough big bad who takes in tropes from prior villains in the series (Agent Smith, The Merovingian, and The Architect) and makes all of it a unique combination of his own presentation that feels entirely appropriate for what The Matrix once was. He takes a somewhat mess of a script and gives us art.
Some of the Callbacks… Seeing Jada Pinkett’s Niobe come back the way she did was cool enough. There was a sense of “completion” there (although, having it be a living Morpheus would’ve honestly been a more welcomed – albeit predictable – choice). The tie that Priyanka Chopra’s character has to the third movie in the series was nice. Even seeing The Merovingian’s current state was… random… but nostalgic. Those are about the only welcome callbacks for me — I’ll touch on the others later.
“White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane The score to this movie isn’t bad, but the use of this song was just a wise decision. It fits the mood of what’s happening on the screen perfectly and really stands out from everything else that you hear during the film. I appreciate both the original and the “Epic Version” from the trailer.
Oh… You thought I’d have a longer list than that? Haha – see the title.
The Hit or Miss Parts of Resurrections
Certain portions of this new movie will land very well with some viewers while completely alienating others. For that reason – these things fall into a gray zone for me.
The Movie is Intentionally Meta The entire first act of the movie will likely leave half of audience awe struck with how well they came up with a new twist for the philosophical approach Matrix movies are known for. The other half of the audience, though? They’ll be wondering what the hell is going on.
The Thing They Do With the Programs & The Machine War While it is interesting that some programs from the matrix (the reality the movie’s about – not the movie title itself) decide to side with humans and coexist with them as a result of the actions Neo (Keanu Reeves) took in the third movie – it’s just glossed over. What honestly felt like it could’ve potentially been the actual plot point for a whole movie – and actually interesting to see (I gripe more about this later) is just treated with utter disregard. You get like a 3-minute mention of why there are programs walking around with magnetic bead bodies, and that’s it.
Some of the Casting Choices… From “old people” in prosthetic skin (Niobe) to recasting a few major characters (Morpheus) to the very visibly diverse cast (which I loved, but did feel a bit pandered to) – the coices in casting might divide a few fans of the franchise. Why not use an actual older actress to play Niobe? Why not get Fishburne in the movie at all? How is the future that diverse when humans are like… farm-raised? I don’t know. Some of it just left me with questions.
The Ascension of Trinity No offense to Carrie-Anne Moss (who plays Trinity), but I always found her character boring. Like… Not worth elevating. But, this movie decides to do something that’s already been done already — elevate a female ensemble cast character to the forefront (see The Incredibles and Incredibles 2) — and do it poorly by elevating a less interesting character out of nowhere (Elastigirl > Trinity).
I understand why it was done well enough I guess (given our current social climate and the dire need for representation on the big screen), but VERY few people checked into this new installment to see… Trinity become Neo? It was a risky move that I’m sure I’ll appreciate over time, but for now – I honestly didn’t like it and I’m not sure how that’ll play into the franchise’s future (if it does at all).
I have a lot of BIG issues with this movie overall. I have been a fan of the entire Matrix Trilogy for as long as I can remember at this point – and I actually appreciate all 3 (which is why I’m sure this one will grow on me). But, yeah — there’s a lot to complain about with this one, and I don’t plan to hold my tongue because I’m a fan. I don’t think I’m nitpicking, either — these are just blatant flubs in this movie.
This Movie Doesn’t Have a Plot I may need to rewatch it, but my biggest complaint of this whole damn thing is that it doesn’t have a plot. I understand that it’s about trauma… but…
Why are the characters doing what they do? What the hell is everybody (not just Neo) trying to accomplish? Why risk humanity (I guess?) for Trinity? What makes every captain the humans have in their new city just decide to risk their lives for Neo (who they just met)? What does the villain want? Why not just leave people inside the matrix at this point because the real world seems to suck? What was the point of this damn movie? What’s the point of getting everyone out into a world that lacks resources to survive? Why did the system decide to bring back Neo and Trinity (is it because Neo represents the mathematical remainder in the system? – as explained by The Architect in a prior installment)?
Seriously — this movie is a shiny turd in a lot of ways because it just doesn’t have a plot. There’s entirely zero tension. At all.
15-20 Minutes of the Movie is Literally Clips of the Older Movies I know that this franchise has a lot of lore and that we’d need some rehashing, but they took clips from the old movies and showed them in this one like a bad Anime filler episode (I’m looking at you, One Piece).
The Aesthetic is a Downgraded and Contrived Misfire One really cool thing about the older Matrix movies was the look of the world. It was grungy yet sleek and sexy in its darkness. There was an underground club appeal and aesthetic to everything. Shiny patent leather and (liquid) latex come to mind in the sleek backdrops of yesteryear’s Matrix. This new one… well… it looked fake.
It was too bright and the characters had the vibe of a Saturday morning cartoon cast. The machines didn’t look threatening in this one either! They just looked… “There”. In the old Matrix films, these things looked like something straight out of a technological nightmare. In this one… You had… THIS (Click). hat the hell is that?! It all feels very “Made for TV” or “Straight to Home Video Release”.
The Fight/Action Scenes are “Meh” I know – I know – the fight scenes and action sequences of old in this series’ repetoire are hard to top. And I think the crew knew that going into it this time around, so they figured, “Why try?” Some of the action sequences in this one are just phoned in and rely very heavily on effects to the detriment of what you’re watching. Speaking of reliance…
Neo is a Shell of His Former Glory While I understand that this had to happen for multiple reasons to elevate the importance of Trinity, seeing Keanu go through this movie as an uncertain Neo is a little lame. The symbolism of him missing his other half? Ok. A social commentary on the patriarchy being over and it being time for the matriarchy (as represented by Trinity) to rise? Ok. Something about balance? Ok. Either way — it made for uninteresting moments. I mean… My man fights Peacocking Morpheus (that’s what I like to call the new iteration), who is fully decked out in Japanese-inspired battle garb, in jeans! It’s like they told Keanu to turn his “not trying” up to eleven in this one.
This Movie Over-relies on Callbacks I gave a nod to some of the callbacks in the opening portion of this post because they were tastefully done (enough), but everything else? Literally reusing lines from prior films (again and again). Showing plays on the same shots and angles from old films. Cheapening great moments from the first films (the gooey mirror, the déjà vu cat, the ripple building explosion, Neo vs. Morpheus for training, Neo flying (or not), jumping off a building, using the Keymaker’s doors like they’re candy, etc.). They even blatantly ripoff Inception at some point early on in the movie.
If I had to assign it a percentage – I’d say this movie is 40% callbacks, and it really does hurt the final product while proving that they didn’t really have a movie to make this time around — just money to gain. Which, as a fan of what the first trilogy accomplished, sucks to realize.
The Pacing is Chaotic I’m not trying to kick this one in the balls while its down, but the pacing of this movie is spastic. And it’s so self aware, that I think it knows it. Some scenes were clearly just thrown in because “we did it before, so let’s do something similar.” Look no further than the fight scene on the train to see what I’m talking about. Why is it there?
Agent Smith is There for No Reason Hear me out: The script would’ve been the same with or without Agent Smith’s rebooted presence… So why was he there? He literally did nothing. He stalks Neo (per the usual), shoots Neil Patrick Harris’ character in the big diner clash, and then… what? That entire scene would lead you to believe that Agent Smith wants the seat at the head of the matrix system, but… no. At the end, Trinity and Neo are talking to The Analyst (NPH) before flying off — NOT Agent Smith. So… Why the hell was he there?!?!?! (And speaking of their fly off at the end…)
Whatever the Hell This Is… The movie decides to close on this bastardization of a Rage Against The Machine classic. This decision was apparently made to pay homage to the original film’s ending, but… yeah… Definite downgrade. Probably dope to see live for sure — but hearing it surprisingly at the end of the movie as it is…. Just… No. I think there was some intentional symbolism in the selection, but I won’t get into that here.
The Other Matrix Movies Made You Think — This One is Just Confusing Ultimately, a lot of my beef with this movie doesn’t really have anything to do with the nostalgia aspect of it. I have wanted a Matrix series to elaborate on the lore of the franchise for YEARS — but what this movie tries to do, and how it starts things off, is just… ugh. While I was able to follow the opening act and all of the weird set-up, it was harder to digest than I feel a blockbuster franchise movie should be. In the end, I have BIG questions about the characters’ motivations in this movie that I just felt went unanswered. I respect the attempt, but I just wish it was a little more tightened up.
I love The Matrix. I can’t understate that enough. I saw the movie in theaters the day it dropped; I saw it multiple times in the theaters (all 3 live-action iterations); I watch all 3 films (plus The Animatrix) at least twice a year. I LOVE The Matrix.
For me, the series of films (all of them… excluding this one) is akin to what fans must have felt back in the late 70s when they first saw Star Wars in theaters.
What was that like?
I truly understand that making movies is no small task and that Resurrections isn’t the worst thing ever made. And I really do want you to form your own opinion on it, so check it out if you want.
But… As a genuine fan of movies/film in general, I have to be honest: I found this movie lacking in a lot of ways when compared to its predecessors (including the third movie). There was no passion in this one, and that kinda’ hurts a little and leaves me a little angry about the whole thing (this guy gets it). The Matrix Resurrections has no sense of reason behind it. It just exists… And I don’t know why?