the matrix: resurrections
director: lana wachowski (the matrix, cloud atlas)
starring: keanu reeves, carrie-anne moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jonathan groff
REVIEWER: nick tonkin
Return to a world of two realities: one, everyday life; the other, what lies behind it. To find out if his reality is a construct, to truly know himself, Mr. Anderson will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more.
A new Wachowski Matrix film was always going to be a curious thing, given such a long period after the close of the original trilogy and the Wachowski’s varied filmography since their time with the world of the Matrix. The first film of the trilogy has become revered and influential in the two decades since release, certainly with respect to the themes it explored, the ideas and philosophies that have come to be accepted as informing it. Of course the style it exuded, and its novel approach to action will be how many will remember The Matrix, surely informing audience expectations on what any new installment should be like. The Matrix Resurrections understands this, and ultimately is a bold way of addressing such a lofty legacy.
The Matrix Resurrections was directed and co-written by Lana Wachowski, aided by writers Aleksandar Hemon, and David Mitchell whose novel The Wachowskis adapted in the ambitious 2012 film Cloud Atlas. Recently, Lana Wachowski said at a film festival panel that the notion of reuniting Neo and Trinity was a comforting way for her to process the loss of her parents and close friend, and from this the idea of Resurrections grew. What has resulted is a film that is aware of the legacy of the first film and its sequels, but is neither exploitative or dismissive, instead centering itself on the connection between Neo and Trinity.
The first film had a thrilling and novel approach to action. It is clear that Resurrections understands this, even managing to take one of the defining features of the first film - “Bullet Time” in a new direction. However, it is apparent that action is not the purpose of Resurrections, but rather one avenue for the film to explore its ideas.
Joining the returning cast are a number of new faces and characters, where there are a few standouts, though to detail their characters would be to say too much. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II brings a fun, vivacious tone to his character, and Neil Patrick Harris is great as the Analyst. Though, Jonathan Groff’s portrayal will be where your personal mileage may vary. No doubt he is good in his role, I just can’t be the only one who missed the original actor’s unique and iconic performance.
The Matrix Resurrections is an interesting revisitation to one of the iconic franchises of film history. It is unexpected, self-aware, and unconcerned with nostalgia, giving it an unusual feel in this day and age. Ultimately, it is a curious yet compelling installment, one certainly worth experiencing.