The Matrix franchise is a study in diminishing returns. When “The Matrix” debuted in 1999 it was revolutionary, not only for its trippy plotline but for its hyper-stylized action sequences and special effects.
But when “The Matrix Reloaded” and “The Matrix Revolutions” dropped in 2003, the Wachowski siblings who wrote and directed the movies pulled back on the action and leaned hard into the pseudointellectual mythology they created about an endless war between humans and machines.
I think they wanted to believe that people dug “The Matrix” for the musings on religion, technology and philosophy and that the punching and explosions were just the icing on the cake. Unfortunately for them, it was mostly the other way around.
Regardless of where the trilogy landed creatively, no one can deny that the legacy of “The Matrix” is still pretty damn cool. So a return nearly 20 years later with “The Matrix Resurrections,” especially with stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss is an interesting idea.
Only Lana Wachowski has returned to write and direct in an attempt to take the franchise back to its roots. She achieves only varying degrees of success.
The first third of the movie is actually the most interesting as familiarity with the original films is thrown right back into our faces to a delightfully disorienting effect.
But then we find ourselves neck deep in that same ol’ mythology that no one cared about the first time around.
“The Matrix Resurrections” has some cool moments and the franchise has some fun new additions in Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris and Jessica Hardwick. It’s also nice to see Reeves and Moss slide back into their leather and sunglasses look with ease and comfort.
But what “Resurrections” proves more than anything else is that this franchise doesn’t really have anywhere else to go. That’s the problem with being revolutionary, it means you become the new standard and that standard is now two decades old. Turn-of-the-millennium vibes aren’t exactly fresh and cutting edge anymore.
In the end, “The Matrix Resurrections” just winds up being another play for nostalgia. Middle-aged dudes like myself totally get the appeal; but while it’s fun at first – if you aren’t seeing anything new – it winds up just making you feel old. And that’s a bummer that no amount of Kung-Fu knowledge can overcome.
“The Matrix Resurrections” is rated R for violence and some language.