Matrix Resurrections Unnecessary, Unworthy Addition to Franchise

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Matrix Resurrections

What can be said about the Matrix series that hasn’t already been said? It is almost an universal opinion among the fans that the trilogy started great with the first movie but was a bit of a let down by the third. Would the fourth movie return the series to greatness or continue the descent into mediocrity? While that is always a matter of personal opinion, I’ll be happy to share my opinion with you today, but be warned… I am always loose with spoilers.

We start off watching a scene unfold where the characters are unfamiliar and awkward. The cinematography felt off as the movie tried to recreate the old scene where Trinity escaped the agents in the beginning of the first movie. It’s a really hard scene to watch because it puts Resurrections into a position of direct comparison to the original masterpiece. Needless to say, the new movie did not compare very well at all.

Despite the leaps and bounds we’ve had in technology, the scene just didn’t shine the way a Matrix movie used to. Maybe it's because of the newer tech, but it just did not fit the look one would be accustomed to from the trilogy.

The opening introduces us to ‘Bugs’ (Jessica Henwick) who is running around the matrix, and Sequoia (Toby Onwumere), who appears as a holographic projection of the operator on the ‘ship’ outside the matrix. Bugs does her best to convince us she is a smart and hardened captain in the human resistance against the machines. Despite the stunt work and special effects, she simply couldn’t convince me of her character. The role seemed to be too much for her. It’s most apparent when she gushes over the appearance of Morpheus.

Yes, Bugs gets out of trouble thanks to the help of Morpheus, who despite having a great actor (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) playing the role, pales in comparison with the Lawrence Fishburne version of Morpheus. I never realized how important the weight of Fishburne’s presence is when it comes to the identity of the Matrix. Without him, I feel like they should’ve created a new character, as there can only ever be one Morpheus. If you were highly disappointed when they had to replace the Oracle (due to the death of actress Gloria Foster), this one hurts the ambiance of the movie even more.

As the movie wanders and we are clued in on the things that have changed since the third movie, we learn that there's been a reboot of a new Matrix, that there are human specialists in ‘neo-ology’, and that Neo’s therapist, who is also the ‘Analyst’ (Neil Patrick Harris), is the guy in control of the new ‘Matrix.’ I completely enjoyed hating him, but not in the way that I should have. The Analyst feels more like the ‘villain-of-the-week’ kind of character from a CW superhero series. Despite my disappointment in the way they wrote his character, he was easily the best actor in the movie.

Agent Smith (Jonathan Groff) is there too, but like Morpheus he also fell short of the source material. He wasn’t bad, but he also wasn’t Hugo Weaving. I felt like I was watching ‘made for tv footage’ whenever he was prominent in the scene except for his scene at the end with the Analyst. One particular note, there were some terrible camera cuts in his scenes that I still haven’t forgotten.

Captain Niobe  (Jada Koren Pinkett Smith), from the trilogy, is here too, and she’s somehow managed to become the general of a city called ‘Io’ (a new version of Zion that merges humans and good machines). Because so much time has passed, she appears as an old lady. I am being kind when I say high-def cinematography does no favors to makeup in this movie. She just doesn’t look old. She looks like an actress in a lot of bad makeup. Unfortunately, her acting was on par with her makeup.

I don't really want to do a scene-by-scene breakdown of the movie, so I will say there are parts that are cringe-worthy.  At one point in the movie, there are a series of ‘creative meetings’ by teams who are working on the fourth Matrix video game (yeah - that’s a thing in this new Matrix). Through a ridiculous montage that roasts the film itself, we hear stereotypical takes on the action movie genre that Matrix belongs to. They manage to slip in the term ‘bullet-time’, which later turns out to be more than a call back to the style popularized by the first film.

In its totality, the film was said to ‘reclaim the red pill metaphor for the woke’ by co-writer, Aleksander Hemon:

​​“Things like the Red Pill/Blue Pill trope or meme and how it was kidnapped by the right-wing,” Hemon explained. “The verb ‘to red pill’ and so on. So, one thing we were mindful of is how to reclaim that trope. To renew the meaning of Red Pill/Blue Pill.”

When I read this, I was watching the movie expecting to see a twisted take on the past movies. I wish creators would not talk about their work before it’s released like this because it does change how viewers will perceive the movie. Whilst there was a woke take that was clear and present for those seeking it, it was easier for me to see the film in far more traditional ways.

Without giving away everything else about the movie, I saw the ultimate unity of Neo and Trinity as a calling card for a classic love story, where man and woman are stronger together as one just as it's always been, right back to Adam and Eve.

There are a few highlights to enjoy, but they come mashed between lowlights. I did like the final battle where Neo and Trinity fight to get to each other, but the motorcycle chase scene belonged on the cutting room floor. The idea of friendly machines was ok, but the cheesy little stick-bot was a terrible addition complete with horrible CG animation.

There is a point where Trinity flies, carrying Neo who hangs from her arms. It was a climactic ending, if you will. It was awesome. It was a statement showing Neo had lost his ability to fly, but Trinity had gained the ability, much like the give and take of a loving relationship. It would've been a truly cool scene, but the writers forced the cringiest dialog.

Neo, who is hanging by Tiffany's arm says, “I’m not doing this. Are you doing this?’

Sometimes, having a character say something so obvious and absurd can really tank a scene that would’ve been radically better without it. It was like they couldn’t risk the viewer missing the well-illustrated point.

Something else that was unsettling was all the blue. Lots of blue is cast throughout the movie, much like the original three movies used green. The problem is, blue doesn’t feel like the Matrix. The blue hue forced throughout the film just felt… wrong. Was it part of the attempted reclamation of the red pill? Who knows at this point?

The cinematography feels like it's been pieced together by different directors, budgets, and visions. Sometimes I felt like I was watching a movie with a 190-million-dollar budget, other times, I felt like I was watching a spoof of the Matrix. The inconsistencies became obvious in the Hallmark-quality coffee shop scenes and the Power Rangers quality battle between Neo, Bugs, her crew, Agent Smith, Merovingian and his thugs. This scene in particular is truly that bad.

I would have to conclude that Matrix Resurrection is the worst of the series, falling short in too many little ways, taking it down as a whole. It had huge potential but feels like another return to a classic that never should've happened. It's not as bad as it could’ve been, but it doesn’t feel worthy of its place among the Matrix movies.

In the end, I couldn’t recommend this to anyone thinking about going to a theater to see it. It would make you leave in disgust or send you snoring in your popcorn. Even the most hardcore fans will likely feel cheated. If you’ve got a couple of hours to burn, it might be something you could try on HBOMAX, but in my opinion, it’s dreadful.