Last year I binged the three “Matrix” movies — one a night for straight three nights. Knowing the fourth was coming (at some point), I needed to get plugged into this world. Some fans like all three films equally (personally, I rank them 1, then 3, then 2). Others see the original “Matrix” as far superior than “Reloaded” and “Revolutions”.
But there are two things we all can agree on: You MUST see the first three “Matrix” films before you see “The Matrix Resurrections”… and “Resurrections” is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from the original trio. Why this is true would require divulging spoilers. Safe to say, “The Matrix Resurrections” has just as many surprises up its trench sleeves as “Spider-Man: No Way Home”, for its older, core sci-fi fanbase.
Keanu Reeves returns. Lana Wachowski is the director. And we revisit The Matrix in new and fascinating ways. And that’s pretty much all I can say to keep your experience of this film genuine. If you’re a “Matrix” series expert and/or admirer, the first hour of “Resurrections” produces multiple “OMG” moments. More than once I caught myself thinking, “Are we really going there? Yep. We’re really going there. Okay. Wow. Did not see that coming.”
Wachowski has made a number of bold, daring, unique decisions that take what we thought we knew about this saga and turn it completely on its head — without tarnishing anything from the past. She intentionally brings us in and out of the momentum, constantly making us (and the characters) question what’s real and what isn’t — and — what does “real” actually mean?
“Resurrections” doesn’t just occasionally pay homage to its predecessors. Elements from the trilogy are constant visual aides. This fourth chapter also explores (in stunningly meta ways) what The Matrix brand represents for a contemporary, younger generation vs. the old school diehards.
The second half of “Resurrections” isn’t as jaw-dropping from a story content perspective, but it’s stronger emotionally. After experiencing an overwhelming amount of shock and awe, we’re allowed to settle in and truly comprehend what’s on the line. The final 30 minutes are kinda brilliant, highlighted by a wildly inventive action sequence. We know, clearly, what’s at stake. I found myself caring about the fate of Neo and Trinity just as much (if not more) than with the previous films. That’s not easy to do when reviving characters from a series whose last installment was 18 years ago.
Here’s the best way I can describe “The Matrix Resurrections”: it’s like being on the franchise’s spin-off theme park ride. You get the greatest hits, in a fresh way, while also being thrust into a completely new story universe that changes the dynamic, making you go, “Huh. Cool!”
It’s an absolute whirlwind — and one of the top movie accomplishments of 2021.
LCJ GRADE: B+
Running Time: 148 min.