By: John M Jerva
There’s no denying that the first Matrix trilogy changed the face on how Hollywood made movies with its innovative story telling and mind blowing action sequences that had never been seen before. After all, bullet time owes all its subsequent popularity over the years to the original film. Say what you will about the other two follow ups as they have divided the fan base but The Matrix is an iconic franchise and will stand the rest of time. I’m a fan of all three movies and loved what they had to offer.
With that and almost twenty years later, we have a brand new adventure in this strange and wonderful world courtesy of one half of the original directing duo. Lana Wachowski returns sans Lilly Wachowski to helm one hell of a trip that is a definite required taste but if you know this world, you should be onboard. This one hits familiar territory once again as it asks you whether or not to take the red or blue pill. Should one take the red pill and see the world for what it really is? Or take the blue and be content with what is in front of you?
Keanu Reeves’ Thomas A. Anderson is asked that question once again as he returns for the newest installment and I for one am ecstatic that he is just as much an intricate part to this newer entry as he was with the original films. Carrie Anne-Miss is also back and she strikes up the same electrifying chemistry she had with Reeves and the two don’t miss a bit. How are they back seeing as they made the ultimate sacrifice in the last film? Well, this is a spoiler free review so I’ll let you enjoy finding that out all on your own so let’s delve in with what we can talk about.
Resurrections plays out like a reimagining of the first film and that’s not a bad thing as this isn’t a straight forward sequel which makes it a curious property. Reeves plays Anderson as a man who is living in a world that isn’t all quite what it seems. He lives his mundane life and works for a team that creates video games and he has one difficult boss to deal with who is played by Jonathan Groff. He has secrets of his own but you will have to find out what they are all by yourself.
Anderson does keep running into the same kind woman at his local coffee shop and he immediately feels a strong connection to her although he doesn’t know who see is. To try and make sense of it all, Anderson makes frequent trips to his analyst played by Neil Patrick Harris to try and make sense of it all. What really is going on? Anderson wants to find out to no end.
That’s all the plot I’ll get into so as to not rain on anyone’s parade but what follows next is a trippy adventure that takes us down the rabbit hole one more time. Should you take this new ride into the unknown? The answer is without a doubt Yes as Resurrections plays to the strengths of the first film but does it’s own things all at the same time. It’s a fever dream of immense drama coupled with dazzling fight sequences that don’t outdo the original film but technology has gotten so much better with movie hocus pocus and this newer version still serves up ample enticing set pieces that’ll leave you breathless.
The cast are all on top of their game to boot with Reeves and Moss leading the way and they are just as much a power couple here as they were all those years ago. Moss is in it less than Reeves but still leaves her mark especially in the finale. In terms of returning players, Jada Pinkett Smith returns as Niobe but that is all as the rest are new and they include Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Yahya Abdul- Mateen II, and Jessica Henwick who all bring it especially Henwick who plays Bugs. She is quite the bad ass and just like her turn in Iron Fist, she steals the show here yet again.
True fans will surely miss Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus and Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith but Yahya Abdul- Mateen II is great as a younger Morpheus and he brings a great sense of gravitas to the well known role. He is perfectly cast as the mentor who opens up Anderson’s eyes and I thought he nailed it in the dramatic and action aspects of the movie. In terms of Groff, well if you’ve been paying attention you know who he is, he brings a sinister and sadistic flair to the proceedings as well. He’s one plot point that I wish they kept more of a secret and if this movie came out back in the day it would have been. Yes the original cast is missed but it’s a small price to pay for enjoying this next go around.
Like I said prior, the action set pieces are the standout here and even though the freeway chase scene in The Matrix Reloaded is still the best of them all, there’s still plenty of gravity defying mayhem to be had with a blistering combination of firepower and fisticuffs that the genre defining franchise is known for. It’s simply a visual assault on the senses. While there is wire work to be had which takes it down a notch, it’s still high caliber ferocity combined with second to none special effects. There’s still nothing like seeing good old Kung Fu in a cyber induced world of spectacle. The choreography is straight up fire and Reeves once again proves that age is only a number.
Music always plays its own character in these types of films and here it is quite evident in Tom Tykwer and Johnny Klimek’s synth infused score. The music blends perfectly with the visual treats on screen and it definitely sets the feel and tone for the viewing experience. There’s just something about a bombastic synthesizer score that puts it all into place. It enhances the overall look of the film and is a treat for the ears.
One funny aspect, at least for me, while watching this film is that Reeves looks exactly like that other iconic character he is known for. I couldn’t help but think to myself that I was watching John Wick in The Matrix universe. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels that way.
All in all, The Matrix Resurrections is just that, a resurrection of the franchise. Maybe one day I’ll go into it more when I can really talk about things but for now I’ll just say that if you’re a true fan of this weird and exciting world then you’ll be a fan of this one. It does resemble the first film to a degree but it does manage to do its own thing and do it so well. Reeves and Moss are as advertised and the new cast is more than up to the challenge for a whole new era. The action is breathtaking and Matrix worthy with all the death and gravity defying thrills that one can handle.
Lana Wachowski manages to deliver some good old fashion fan service while at the same time not bashing you over the head with it. It’s important to note that this movie isn’t for everyone but it’s not supposed to be but I was along for the entire ride. It is a sincere love letter to everything that came before but if she decides to make another trilogy, I will definitely be taking the red pill for more this all has to offer. Upon writing this non-spoiler review, I read that Wachowski stated it is not the start of a new trilogy but never say never especially in this business. It’s a story that deserves to be expanded even more.
Resurrections will surely divide the fan base and many will hate it but I took everything into consideration and when I came out of it, I still was attached to the story. It doesn’t outdo the original at all but it does work for what it’s trying to do. I don’t mind when things are thrown out of whack and I applaud Wachowski for doing something daring with the source material. I understand where the hate is coming from but I went in with an optimistic, open mind and it fed my need for more of this universe. With all that said and done…sue me because I liked this movie.
With this review, I bid everyone a very happy and safe holiday season as I’m now officially on vacation!!! Enjoy!!!