It was the year 1999. Furthermore, it was an unspectacular film decade. Thus, many cinema fans were longingly waiting for two films. One of them was Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Announced with big ballyhoo, it was a big disappointment. In contrast, the other, The Matrix, made film history. It exuded pure energy and inspired the audience in ways never seen before. In addition, the film motivated people to believe that everyone has the power to change the world for the better. Well, now, 22 years later, the old heroes Neo, played again by Keanu Reeves, is awakening to new life in The Matrix Resurrections.
LANA WACHOWSKI & THE MATRIX CULT
Art inspires us. It is an essential part of our culture. There are always courageous people in all areas of art who swim against the current. So, they shape entire styles and eras with their works. Undoubtedly, Lana Wachowski is one of those great visionaries. She has not only changed the world of film. Moreover, she has also changed our worldview.
With The Matrix, she created a masterpiece that, to this day, is more than just a cool sci-fi action film. The Matrix was groundbreaking in considering imagery, light, color mood, and technology.
To this day, filmmakers of all genres copy Wachowski’s Matrix-style and often that incredibly cool motion effect called the Bullet Time, which became the reference for many other productions in the field of film and advertising.
The Matrix was and is profound. In addition, the film is equally fictional and authentic. A mix that is still unique today.
Lana Wachowski spoke to us all with the film character Neo. Each of us, who do not notice – or simply accept – that we live or exist in a system in which we only have to function. A system, that drains our batteries until the next model series (generation) replaces us. The Matrix was arguably the deepest and most subliminally system-critical action film of all time. In 1999, it lured me to the cinema seven times. I was so fascinated by Neo’s story and the ending.
THE MATRIX SEQUELS
Exactly, that is the problem. Because The Matrix had the perfect ending. It was open. Thus, it left the decision to go on with our very own imagination and our actions, Neo’s path – and our own.
The sequels The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions from 2003, destroyed largely this fantasy as well as the cult of the original. Senseless dialogues, exaggerated complexity, exaggerated acting, and gaps in logic without end. After this cinematic fiasco, it was difficult to feel the spirit that the original exuded.
THE TRIGGER OF THE MATRIX RESURRECTION
So, when it became known that Lana Wachowski would add another part to the Matrix series, many asked themselves whether 22 years later she would be able to find her way back to the roots of Neo and the Matrix.
Lana’s motivation was very emotional. Because she was inspired to shoot the fourth part while caring for her terminally ill parents. Understandably, this was a time full of emotions for Lana.
Anyone who has already had the sad experience of accompanying their mother or father or both as they die will certainly have thought about their own values. What is important to me? Do I spend enough time with the things or people that really mean something to me? What else do I want to create myself? Am I still on my path?
After producing the series Sense8 for Netflix since 2015, she actually wanted to get out of the film business. Watching her parents die, and the loss that came with it, however, set her free to want to resurrect one of the most unique lovers in film history.
THE MATRIX RESURRECTION STORY
Neo now leads a respectable life in the real world. Now, he is a successful computer game designer. His greatest gaming success is The Matrix.
Despite his great success, Neo is plagued by terrible fears and visions. So, he turns to his therapist, who prescribes blue pills to calm him down.
In a bar, Neo meets the attractive Tiffany every day. She reminds him very much of Trinity. When the sweet Bugs and the tough Morpheus suddenly appear, who offers him the red pill and enter the real world again, Neo’s life takes another unexpected turn.
THE MATRIX RESURRECTION CHARACTERS
NEO AKA Thomas Anderson (KEANU REEVES)
After Neo actually died a long time ago, he is now resurrected in The Matrix Resurrections. Again, he has to ask himself what is real and what is not. Moreover, he questions if he is really the chosen one.
With all the doubts and fears that plague Neo, he knows one thing for sure. That he has Trinity, whether she exists or not, deep in his heart. Of course, this triggers him to find her.
Before The Matrix, Keanu Reeves was one of Hollywood’s young stars. But with the role of Neo, the handsome Canadian became a superstar and immortal as an actor.
With his subtle variety, his mischievous naivety, his martial arts, and his brown eyes, he enraptured the audience regardless of gender and age. He created a new image of the superhero; modest, doubtful, insecure, cordial.
Keanu Reeves actually played and plays himself. Because hardly any Hollywood star is as down-to-earth and almost humble as the now 57-year-old actor. Due to his closeness to Neo and his emotional portrayal, Keanu significantly contributes to The Matrix Resurrections. Even if we see that over 20 years have passed since the first part, Keanu’s fight scenes still deserve the greatest respect.
TIFFANY AKA TRINITY (CARRIE-ANNE MOSS)
In The Matrix Resurrections, Tiffany is the mother of three boys. She regularly comes to the “Simulatte” coffee shop (by the way, a nice pun by Lana Wachowski, who also developed the logo for the bar).
Also, Thomas Anderson hangs out there very often. He feels a close connection to Tiffany and would like to get to the bottom of things. The question is, is Tiffany really Trinity? And if so, would she like to give up her family and fight the machines again with Neo?
Carrie-Anne Moss is a great woman, for whom time seems to go by without any trace. While other artists of her age try to keep themselves young by all means (of the surgeons), Moss shows that naturalness is simply beautiful. Even if her part in The Matrix Resurrections is rather short, like 22 years ago she plays the cool Trinity very convincingly.
BUGS (JESSICA HENWICK)
Bugs is the actual main character in The Matrix Resurrections. She is Neo’s biggest fan and has been looking for him for a long time. Like Trinity once, she leads Thomas Anderson into the real world. She believes in him and puts everything on one card for him. Thereby, she even risks the command of her hovercraft.
Just as The Matrix originally showed us that anyone could change the world, Jessica Henwick shows that this is possible in reality too. She is the first British Chinese actress to play the lead role in a TV series.
Many know her from Game of Thrones, Star Wars The Force Awakens, or Blade Runner Black Lotus. She also became known through various Marvel hits such as Iron Fist, The Defenders, and Luke Cage. We’ll soon see the pretty actress in Knives Out 2.
MORPHEUS (YAHYA ABDUL-MATEEN)
In The Matrix Resurrections, Morpheus is an ex-agent who discovered through a special experience that he lives in a fake world. Now he tries to copy the Morpheus that Neo knows to make it easier for the hero to return to the real world.
We know Yaha Abdul-Mateen from films such as The Greatest Showman, where he starred alongside Zendaya and Hugh Jackman in 2017. We could also see him in Get Out and Baywatch from the same year or Aquaman (2018).
But we will see a lot more of Yaha in the future. The upcoming releases include Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. He will also appear in Candyman, and Mad Max: The Wasteland.
THE ANALYST (NEIL PATRICK HARRIS)
Neo believes he is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. After attempting suicide, he went into therapy. His analyst shows him that his fictions are pure delusions, against which there is a remedy. The blue pill.
Neil Patrick Harris brings the humor into The Matrix Resurrection. His analysis and demeanor are entertaining right down to the very last sequence. We know the American actor from the hit series How I Met Your Mother, and films as Starship Troopers or the Harold & Kumar comedies, of course.
NIOBE (JADA PINKETT SMITH)
Neo knows the captain of the hovercraft logo from Zion very well. As Morpheus ex-girlfriend, she was Neo’s companion in the two Matrix sequels. Now, years after Neo’s actual death, she is old and general of the new city in which the free people live.
In contrast to Zion, the main goal of the people’s capital in The Matrix Resurrections is to come to terms with the machines instead of fighting. On the one hand, Niobe is therefore happy that Neo is still alive.
On the other hand, however, she is concerned about his appearance. Neo’s impetuous nature and his willingness to fight, mean danger to everything that the free people have built up over the past decades.
Jada Pinkett Smith’s last name, of course, has nothing to do with the Smith agents in The Matrix. No, the pretty actress, screenwriter, and producer has been at Will Smith’s side since 1997. We also know their children Jaden and Willow Smith from films and the stages of the real world.
In addition to The Matrix Resurrections and the prequels, we know Jada from films like Collateral, Angel Has Fallen, Magic Mike XXL, Ali to name just a few.
SATI (Priyanka Chopra)
Already in The Matrix Revolutions, this actually useless exile program appeared. Actually, it was created for no real purpose. However, as it turns out in The Matrix Resurrections, this decorative program is of great value.
The Indian actress, model, film producer, and singer Priyanka Chopra Jonas is one of the highest-paid entertainers in the world. After she won the Miss World competition in 2000, she really took off. Her most successful films include The Matrix Resurrections, Baywatch, the Quantico series, We Can Be Heroes, Fashion, and many others.
In The Matrix Resurrections, some familiar faces appear in smaller supporting roles. Some appear even partly in the mass of extras.
Chad Stahelski plays the husband of Tiffany, who lives in the “real” world. We know Chad as the director of the John Wick films. Besides, he also was the stunt coordinator of the first Matrix films.
Christina Ricci, Telma Hopkins, Ellen Hollman and Tom Hardy also appear on the screen of the mysterious story.
THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS CONCLUSION
The binary code of the matrix consists of all ones and zeros. And so does The Matrix Resurrections. There are a lot of pros and, unfortunately, much more cons.
One of the positive aspects of Matrix Resurrections is that Lana Wachowski did not try to continue the visual language of the old films. In the meantime, over 20 years have passed and, so, the director, writer and producer gives the film more color than has ever been seen in the green-washed Matrix universe.
That’s cool. Just like action sequences, of course, have their charm. The biggest plus point of Matrix Resurrections, however, is seeing the original faces again.
It’s just awesome to watch Keanu Reeves, who started with comedies. In Matrix Resurrections, he shows that he not only masters action but can also make us smile with his subtle humor.
However, I have to ponder what else could be considered a pro of The Matrix Resurrections. Especially since the film currently has to compete with the most successful blockbuster of the last few months, Spider-Man No Way Home. And here The Matrix Resurrections, unfortunately, loses all along the line.
One of the main weak points of the film, of course, is the story. It can only be described as confused. Logic is completely absent. It would be okay if the heroes’ resurrection looked a little too constructed. But unfortunately, this confusion runs through all characters. It looks like the story was written quickly in 10 minutes.
Although, there is no real story. Everything is very confused from the start. Scenes start. However, they end completely differently, or they have no end at all. Somethings else happens suddenly.
Besides, a lot was copied from the prequels. Of course, for true fans references and Easter eggs are particularly important. But the scenes from The Matrix constantly fade and appear somewhere without any sense.
What’s the crap that Thomas Anderson, who was originally a hacker, has now become successful through a computer game called The Matrix?
We could still cope with a confusing story. Because real Matrix fans are of course closely connected to the characters. If it weren’t there, yes, there wouldn’t be an absolute lack of emotions.
After all, The Matrix Resurrections is supposed to be about a love story. However, the viewer does not feel any of this. The film is cold and scripted.
There are a couple of moments that could be emotional. However, these are different from what real Matrix fans hope for. And there we come to the next point of criticism. Nineteen years after The Matrix Revolution, a sequel is released that leaves far too many questions unanswered for the new generation. If you haven’t seen all three prequels, you don’t even need to go to The Matrix Resurrections. Because, despite new characters, a beginner will not understand anything.
Even for those familiar with the Matrix franchise, it’s hard to follow what’s going on on the big screen. What you will remember are the pointless dialogues between the two successors of the original. Because we also meet these at The Matrix Resurrections. Often, it’s just babbling. Nonsense.
If the film had been built on a new plot, independently of the Matrix story, it would certainly have been one of the films worth seeing of this year marked by Covid-19. As a Matrix successor, however, like “Reloaded” and “Revolution”, it has to compete with the original. The Matrix is a milestone in film history to this day. Unfortunately, the 2003 sequels as well as The Matrix Resurrections are just dust particles of the original. This is a shame because, on the one hand, the world has hardly changed in the past 20 years. It still suffers from the grave problems that were once addressed in such brilliantly subtle ways in The Matrix.
On the other hand, nowadays, the virtual network has an even more influence on our everyday life. A perfect template for a real continuation of the network-critical first part. Great stories would have been possible. Instead, everything runs according to tried and tested patterns. Thereby, the emphasis is on old.
I’m still a big The Matrix fan. Therefore, I try not to be influenced by the sequels too much. Besides, The Matrix Resurrection isn’t a bad movie either.
However, like me, thousands of people go into the film with the hope of experiencing those unbelievable visions Lana Wachowski shared with us in 1999 and The Matrix.
Unfortunately, we only experience one disjointed action film. It’s cold, without any emotion. Moreover, it’s once again not worthy of the name The Matrix. Even if the actors really did their best. But it is a rule, if you created something big, you must create something bigger the next time.
Therefore, The Matrix Resurrections unfortunately only receives 5 out of 10 points. In addition, we add one point to motivate the makers to go truly back to the roots next time. Therefore, this evaluation is linked to the hope that in future sequels, which will certainly follow, the focus will be again on content, topicality, visions, profundity, and deep emotions.
There is so much potential in the story. We firmly believe that with a little more time and tranquility, Neo can lead us into the abyss of the virtual world once more. In connection with this hope, we wish all film enthusiasts and casual viewers a merry, peaceful, and healthy Christmas. Hopefully, in a beautiful, and real world.
Text & Layout: Marco Kokkot
Pictures: Warner Bros. 2021. All Rights Reserved.