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Review: ‘The Matrix Resurrections’ Revisits the Iconic Sci-Fi Franchise with Action, Humor and a Meta Twist

December 21, 2021Ben MK

Not many movies can boast the box office legacy of The Matrix. And for the Wachowskis, who wrote and directed the sci-fi action masterpiece, as well as its two subsequent followups, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, neither Jupiter Ascending nor Cloud Atlas, nor any other film they've made since, has been able to come close to topping the phenomenon that they unleashed onto cinemas back in 1999. Now, 22 years after The Matrix first blew the collective minds of moviegoers, Lana Wachowski is back for the series' fourth installment. But is there really more to this story that deserves telling, or does The Matrix Resurrections exist solely to artificially prolong the life of this iconic franchise?

Picking up some six decades after the events of the original trilogy, Resurrections reveals that the bloody and violent war between humans and machines didn't actually come to a peaceful resolution following the ultimate sacrifice of Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) at the finale of Revolutions. On the contrary, while some machines chose to work in harmony alongside Zion's last survivors, others chose to continue acting in direct opposition to them, enslaving humanity as they have for centuries — by using the energy created by our flesh and blood to power their vast machine cities, which still tower high above the scorched ruins of the Earth. And while the Architect is no longer a major player in this new reality, a new entity known as the Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris) has come into power, creating a new version of the Matrix that's even more sinister than its predecessor.

It's within this latest iteration of the Matrix that we meet Bugs (Jessica Henwick), a resistance captain who has detected something unnatural amidst the Analyst's meticulously curated and carefully ordered system. What she discovers, however, ends up being much more shocking than anything she could ever imagine. For when she learns that Neo and Trinity have not only survived their presumed demise, but have had their memories wiped and their bodies reinserted into the Matrix, it's up to her and the intrepid crew of her ship, the Mnemosyne, to free them. Joined by a resurrected Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who's now more artificial intelligence than man, Bugs must defy the direct orders of her general, Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith), in order to convince Neo that the world he knows is nothing but a lie. The question is, will Neo have the strength to free his mind a second time and help rescue Trinity from her synthetic prison? And what about the villain formerly known as Agent Smith (Jonathan Groff), who's found himself a new form and is once again the wildcard in the equation?

Imbued with an acute sense of self-awareness seldom seen in big budget studio tentpoles this side of the Deadpool series, what follows is as much an exciting extension of the original movies' narrative as it is a meta and oftentimes humorous commentary about the nature of film franchises, remakes and reboots themselves. Suffice to say, Resurrections isn't your typical sequel. For while it does still rely on many of the same storytelling tropes as such followups as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, TRON: Legacy and Mad Max: Fury Road, it also carves out its own niche among its blockbuster brethren, acknowledging the irony of its own existence while incorporating clips from the original trilogy throughout its runtime, both as a refresher for the audience and for Neo himself.

At the heart of it all, though, is the relationship between Neo and Trinity, which stands out against the movie's gravity-defying action sequences as the one thing truly holding the story together. In any other film, their reunion might be the meet-cute that rekindles a romance between former lovers who eventually went their separate ways. In The Matrix Resurrections, however, it's the spark that rekindles long-forgotten memories — reigniting a long-dead series and reinvigorating old heroes for a new generation of moviegoing audiences.

The Matrix Resurrections releases December 22nd, 2021 from Warner Bros. Pictures. The film has an MPAA rating of R for violence and some language. Its runtime is 2 hrs. 28 min.

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