The thing about the original film, and something that became painfully obvious as the sequels were released in subsequent years, was that while The Matrix looked good the storyline itself was a bit of a weakness. It is the kind of story that people either never fully understand or find themselves thinking about so much that they end up developing their own theories which may or may not be along the lines of what the creators were hoping to achieve.
Now comes the fourth instalment in the franchise – The Matrix: Resurrections – and the general consensus among fans is the fact that they hope this film answers some questions from the past films while also helping them to forget some of the franchise’s shortfalls.
Directed and written by Lana Wachowski (Jupiter Ascending), the film finds Neo (Keanu Reeves – John Wick) working as a games developer and completely unaware of the Matrix and his involvement in it. In fact his only awareness of his past is what he thinks was a mental breakdown, something that he meets with his therapist (Neil Patrick Harris – How I Met Your Mother) to regularly talk about.
But soon his mundane life is turned upside down when he meets Bugs (Jessica Henwick – Game of Thrones) and Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II – Aquaman) and they begin to fill in some blanks that soon has him realising there may be more to the connection that he seems to have with a mysterious woman who he meets in his local coffee shop, Tiffany (Carrie-Anne Moss – Memento).
That plot-line does sound very thin and to be honest that is the biggest weakness of The Matrix: Resurrections. Once again we have a Matrix film that looks brilliant, but once again we also have a film where the plot is dangerously thin and at times is attempted to be fleshed out by exposition.
Probably the best way to approach the film is to see it as something that is visually going to wow you but isn’t going to win any awards for screenwriting. I would be lying however if I said that this film doesn’t draw you in – it certainly does that.
The most intriguing part of the film is watching Neo trying to put together all the jigsaw pieces in his head. And to Lana Wachowski’s credit that does work, although perhaps it could have been done in a faster way. Like always, although the plot itself is thin, the script is convoluted and to be honest there are a number of scenes that feel like they shouldn’t even be there… especially given the long running time.
There are times throughout the film where the film almost seems aware of itself as the characters talk about reboots and franchises etc and while on the surface it appears smart after reflection it feels a little out of place, especially given that this film works best when it is delivering on action or the suspense of the ‘rescuers’ trying to recruit Neo and find Trinity.
As we have come to expect from this franchise, the best thing about it is the visuals. The action sequences captured by Wachowski and cinematographers Daniele Massaccesi (Under The Skin) and John Toll (Braveheart) are brilliant, creative and to be honest are the heart and soul of this film. While the screenplay may be lacking, the action set pieces certainly aren’t.
When it comes to acting Neil Patrick Harris steals the show. He is brilliant as The Analyst and not only does he steal every scene that he is in but he seems to find the best of a weak script and makes the character truly his and a remarkable villain. Jessica Henwick is also great as Bugs and she does such a good job that she is a character that needs to be explored more if we see more Matrix films.
As a bit of a downer though it does become obvious that this film is let down by the fact that Hugo Weaving and Laurence Fishburne don’t return to their iconic roles. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jonathon Groff (Frozen) do an okay job in their roles, but it certainly isn’t the same and there is very little explanation given to the change in appearance of the characters.
Sadly, this is no better than any of the other Matrix sequels but hopefully it is setting us up for something special in the future.
The Matrix: Resurrections is currently screening in Phuket and has been classified G.
David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at www.facebook.com/subcultureentertainmentaus