Entertainment

The Matrix Resurrections: An entertaining, coolly cerebral, complex new chapter


The Matrix Resurrections (M, 148 mins) Directed by Lana Wachowski ****

Apart from “why does all their knitwear have holes?”, were there any other unanswered questions at the end of The Matrix Revolutions, way back in 2003?

Neo had died, like the fighty Jesus he was supposed to be, in order to save the rest of us from some sort of Bad Thing that Agent Smith had put in motion. The sun had set, the music had played and the silliest, least expected and most outrageously uneven and entertaining big-screen trilogy of the century had come incontrovertibly to an end, hadn’t it?

Well, yes and no.

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What if, asks The Matrix Resurrections, none of that had ever happened? What if the entire narrative had been a psychotic delusion in the mind of a video game developer named Thomas Anderson, who had cracked under the strain of writing his award-winning Binary series and had lost himself in a world where his creation had become his reality?

And what if this Anderson had only recently recovered his tenuous grasp on sanity, when a diverse bunch of strangers, dressed like a ‘90s boy band being styled for a Face magazine cover-shoot, should suddenly crash into his office dunny and tell him his name is Neo, that his delusions are real, and he is living in a machine-generated illusion – just like they had 20 years ago?

Oh, and the woman he’s been helplessly gazing at in his local café – called Simulatte, lol – really is Trinity, the love of his life – and not the married mother-of-three with the unexpected Ducati fetish she claims to be.

I really wasn't expecting The Matrix Revolutions to be particularly interesting, function as a satire of the entertainment industry or to make me laugh out loud a few times. All of which it did.

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I really wasn’t expecting The Matrix Revolutions to be particularly interesting, function as a satire of the entertainment industry or to make me laugh out loud a few times. All of which it did.

The Matrix Resurrections gets headscratchy, fast. And yet, this meta movie-within-the-movie structure is an undeniably entertaining and engaging a way back into the story. Making a new instalment in a series that ended 20 years earlier usually sees the writers fall back on some baggy old nonsense like “you have a child you didn’t know about – and now they’re in trouble”. But sole-director Lana Wachowski, with co-writers and novelists David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) and Aleksandar Hemon (The Lazarus Project) has assembled a coolly cerebral and complex new chapter here.

The downside is The Matrix Resurrections is a talkative film, lacking some of the pyrotechnics and general butt-kickery that made the series such a sensation when it first appeared. So while we do get at least one pretty exceptional motorcycle-versus-the-entire-city chase sequence and Anderson/Neo does get back in the dojo with a rebooted Morpheus, there is still not much in Resurrections that is ever going to feature in a Matrix: Greatest Moments fan edit. Unless, y’know, you’re a bigger fan than most of pithy dialogue and Lewis Carroll allusions.

Of the new additions to the cast, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus is especially effective.

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Of the new additions to the cast, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus is especially effective.

Not helping at all, is Wachowski’s decision to frame most of the fight sequences in a loose mid-shot and just let the performers get on with it. It’s effective enough, but after the hyper-stylised and frenetically edited earlier films, a lot of the action here looks a little pedestrian.

And yet, I enjoyed The Matrix Resurrections a lot.

Of the new additions to the cast, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman) as Morpheus is especially effective, nailing and yet still sending up Laurence Fishburne’s creation from the earlier films. Toby Onwumere and Jessica Henwick are both terrific as new crew mates and allies for Neo and Trinity, while Hugo Weaving is sorely missed as the original Agent Smith. Weaving spun Smith’s complete absence of emotion into comedy gold and his unrepeatable charisma would have been very welcome here.

Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne-Moss are still wonderful as Neo and Trinity, still bubbling with the chemistry and affection that has always been these films’ most palpable magic.

Carrie-Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves return as Trinity and Neon (or do they?) in The Matrix Resurrections.

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Carrie-Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves return as Trinity and Neon (or do they?) in The Matrix Resurrections.

I was expecting action-packed, which Resurrections is not – not as much as it should be anyway – and I might have been expecting funny and cool, which the film is. But I really wasn’t expecting this fourth instalment to be particularly interesting, function as a satire of the entertainment industry or to make me laugh out loud a few times. All of which it did.

Also, it turns out that two middle-aged people who still love each other are the most unstoppable force in the universe. Which seems about right.

The Matrix Resurrections is now screening in cinemas nationwide.



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