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The Matrix Resurrections Review: Plugged In and Loving It

In Hollywood, everything old is finally new again, even Matrix.

More than two decades after Keanu Reeves’ aimless hacker Neo took the red pill, woke up in a vat of goo, and started a war against the machine lords of Earth that would last for two and countless sequels. derivative projects. The Matrix resurrections hopes to live up to its title by reviving the seminal cyberpunk multimedia franchise. The film brings Reeves back as humanity’s savior, Neo, who now finds himself connected back to the titular simulation of the machines along with his only true love, Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), despite the alleged disappearance of both characters at the end of 2003. The Matrix Revolutions.

If you’re wondering how they got there, you’re not alone. Set 20 years after the events of RevolutionsThe movie has a new group of hackers who discover Neo and Trinity within The Matrix (which is apparently still a thing), starting a chain of events that is largely based on the original trilogy while establishing a new status quo. in the universe of the franchise. And despite a generous recycling of old concepts and themes, The Matrix resurrections delivers a satisfying new chapter in the franchise fueled by the chemistry and charisma of its leads, and backed by the franchise’s signature blend of high-end visuals and action choreography.

A code city from a scene in The Matrix Resurrections.

Connecting again

Besides bringing Reeves and Moss in front of the camera, The Matrix resurrections also brings back franchise co-creator Lana Wachowski behind the camera as director and co-writer. He joins other returning cast and crew members from the original trilogy in a film that, as the title suggests, is more of a revival than a reboot, leading the characters, themes, and mythology into a new story built on the foundation. of the original. trilogy.

In ResurrectionsNeo, or in this case, Thomas Anderson, finds himself living a less adventurous life as the designer of a wildly popular game franchise titled (wait …) Matrix. His new reality suggests that the events of the original trilogy were actually the plot of a game he designed, and he pays a therapist (Neil Patrick Harris) to assure him that he is not, in fact, humanity’s savior. He also swallows an endless supply of blue pills to keep his daily existence safe, stable, and predictable.

Meanwhile, Trinity, now Tiffany, is a married mother of two who enjoys spending time in coffee shops and working on her motorcycle. It’s all very domestic, actually, and the duo seem to have no recollection of their past experiences. However, everything changes when Neo meets a familiar figure from his past who offers him the opportunity to dispel the illusion and see reality as it is.

Keanu Reeves touches a mirror in a scene from The Matrix Resurrections.

Through the looking glass

If that premise sounds familiar, it’s because Resurrections makes a concerted effort to closely follow the formula from the first film, recycling lines of dialogue and even music tracks (Anyone Want Rage Against The Machine?) from 1999. Matrix at various points. It’s all intentional though, as the movie cleverly turns his reverence for the past into a plot point for Neo’s latest adventure.

In Neo’s new reality, his life is defined by the success of the game franchise he designed. Wherever he goes, he is surrounded by images of the past. A bust of Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) stands in a corner of the game’s studio, for example, while ads featuring Neo, Trinity, and iconic scenes from their adventures here and there. It all serves as a reminder that even in this reality, Neo cannot escape the Matrix. When Thomas is tasked with creating a fourth installment in his game franchise, a series he thought was over, the line between reality and simulation becomes exponentially more blurred, not just for him, but for the audience of the game. film.

This self-conscious aspect of Resurrections He could easily have fallen into an inadvertent parody, but Reeves plays it with the perfect balance of wary skepticism and an acknowledgment that something is very, very wrong in his life.

Taking the red pill was a decision that changed Neo’s fate in the original trilogy, and in Resurrections, we get a glimpse of what his life might have been like if he had taken a different path. In the absence of that (literally) game-changing option, Neo is far from a determined and confident figure who always thinks of several moves ahead, and instead we have a paranoid, introverted game designer and a fascinating “¿? what if?” script.

The meta elements of ResurrectionsThe premise also offers plenty of opportunities for humor, and the movie delivers those moments without getting lost in self-promotion. A scene in which Thomas’ fellow designers discuss the true meanings of Matrix games offers a wonderfully conscious encapsulation of 20 years of conversations about the franchise’s philosophical themes, while the iconic “bullet-time” filming technique that the 1999 film introduced is used creatively (and somewhat teasingly) elsewhere. of the movie.

And yet, despite all the dissection and deconstruction of the original trilogy that occurs throughout ResurrectionsIn the first act, it all ends up feeling like an endearing tribute rather than a roast, thanks to the clever ways the film’s cast and creative team handle all of this self-reflection.

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in a scene from Matrix Resurrections.

He still knows kung fu

Not all are self-referential moments in Resurrections, but nevertheless. As fans might expect, there’s no shortage of action and explosions either.

Wachowski and the franchise creative team have always put on a good show, and Resurrections it continues that trend with truly impressive choreography that channels the challenging tone of physics from the original trilogy’s fight sequences. As crazy as things can get in the world of The Matrix, there are rules for the virtual world they inhabit, and Resurrections it does a good job of simultaneously adhering to those rules and pushing the limits of what the characters are capable of within them.

The film also benefits from two decades of evolution in visual effects techniques. Resurrections looks so edgy now as Matrix He did it in 1999, and the movie makes good use of all that modern VFX power both in its big pieces and in some smaller elements that would have been impossible to achieve 20 years ago, including the presence of a featured character made up entirely. of metal beads that emits and interacts with human characters.

Still, packing up all that action comes at a price, and Resurrections it gets lost a bit in the chaos around the film’s midpoint, lengthening one of its most explosive sequences longer than necessary while unleashing explosion after explosion without any forward movement in the plot. The film’s decision to step on the water and enjoy its own show a little longer feels like a strange glitch in an otherwise well-paced story, but it finally gets back on track and finds its groove again when enter the final arch.

Carrie-anne Moss and Keanu Reeves in a scene from Matrix Resurrections.

The future is female

Although it is easy to celebrate Resurrections As another example of Reeves ‘Hollywood revival, the fourth installment in the Matrix franchise wouldn’t be as rewarding without Moss’ impressive performance alongside, and in some cases, opposite, his franchise co-star.

Not only is the chemistry between Neo and Trinity as good (if not better) in Resurrections that in previous films, veteran actors bring a depth to the roles that this time was not so evident in the original trilogy. In the world of The Matrix, Neo and Trinity have seen it all by this point, experienced the full spectrum of emotions and even died and were reborn, and the ways they move, speak, and interact with each other in Resurrections they reflect that sense of familiarity and comfort with their roles in the story that unfolds around them.

More than any previous movie, Moss is the action hero Reeves finds himself in. Resurrections. Not only does the movie leave the door open for future adventures, it makes it very clear that The Matrix is ​​no longer a one-man show. Given the broader range of storytelling opportunities it creates, it feels like a brilliant pivot for the franchise to do if it hopes to take advantage of this renaissance.

Walking the line between following the formula for a hit movie that spawns a franchise and recreating that movie in bulk isn’t easy (just look at the polarizing answer to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, for example), and Resurrections deserves praise for his careful and thoughtful approach to reviving the franchise. Finding the right measures of inspiration and imitation often spells the difference between success or failure with revival projects like this one, and Resurrections maintains that balance by distilling the franchise’s most iconic and rewarding elements rather than simply duplicating them.

It remains to be seen if Neo and Trinity’s triumphant return eventually ends up capturing lightning in a bottle again, but regardless, The Matrix resurrections offers a great example of doing the right thing with an iconic franchise with a resurgence that offers substance, spectacle, and a genuine awareness of what made the original trilogy so special.

Directed by Lana Wachowski, The Matrix resurrections It will open in theaters on December 22 and on the HBO Max streaming service.

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