For MATRIX: RESURRECTIONS Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss embark on a fourth time searching for the question of what is reality and what is not. The new film in the legendary sci-fi series begins with a great first hour, but unfortunately the film lasts 148 minutes… We’ll reveal more about this in our review.
OT: The Matrix Resurrections (USA 2021)
To find out whether his reality is a physical or mental construct and to truly find himself, Mr. Anderson (Keanu Reeves) must decide whether to follow the White Rabbit again. And if Thomas aka Neo has learned anything, it’s that this choice is still the only way out of the Matrix – or into it. This applies even if everything is just an illusion. Of course, Neo already knows what he has to do. What he doesn’t yet know is that the Matrix is stronger, more secure and more dangerous than ever before. Déjà-vu!
There are basically two ways to deal with pop culture nostalgia. The first is homage, which is usually accompanied by a degree of transfiguration. There is still and more fan service, homages to small and large, content-related as well as visual or acoustic details and the revisiting of well-known characters. Most recently seen in Jason Reitman’s “Ghostbusters” sequel “Ghostbusters: Legacy” as a positive example (meaning: thanks to a likeable script and a contemporary production, the film worked even without prior knowledge of the original films), but also in some “Star Wars” films. Sequels from the recent past as a negative example, in which the departure to new shores (“The Last Jedi”) was punished by fans and the repetition of all-too-familiar narrative mechanisms (“The Rise of Skywalker”) was also criticized. Even a film like “Dune”, which is partly the origin of many great science fiction genre productions and stories, shows that basically the audience only wants what they have been getting for decades; In the best case scenario, things will just look (much) better in 2021 than they did back then. The second way in which films “from back then” can be continued or reissued today is by subverting old structures; the unmasking, the reckoning. The “Scream” series has always been at the forefront on this front (we don’t yet know what the fifth part will be, which will be released in cinemas in early 2022). But the Daniel Craig era of the “Bond” films also made you realize that what you thought was cool back then needs a realignment in the present in order to remain contemporary. Now “The Matrix: Resurrections” is coming to theaters. And in view of the above-mentioned possibilities of presenting a fourth “Matrix” film and thus one of the most hyped sci-fi series in what was then called “nerd circles”, neither fish nor meat, but the result of what happens when you want to do both but don’t really follow through with either.
The therapist (Neil Patrick Harris) tries to help his patient Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) with his psychoses…
The first hour of “Matrix: Resurrections” is likely to offend and delight fans of the original trilogy (or at least the first part) at the same time. Under the instantly recognizable direction of Lana Wachowski, Keanu Reeves stars (“John Wick 1-3”) through a stylish “Matrix” variation of the present. The style is breathtaking and takes up the “Matrix” style even if not everything is dipped in the familiar green and black. The screenwriters working with Wachowski, David Mitchell, have chosen this (“Cloud Atlas”) and Aleksandar Hemon (“Sense8”) Truly a great idea thought up; And it wouldn’t be surprising if the answer to the question of how to transfer the iconic “Matrix” look into a (room) design of current reality had been there first, only to ultimately develop the story from this. Making Thomas Anderson aka Neo a game designer of a “Matrix” video game trilogy in his world, whereupon the entire development office is based on the nineties film look, is the perfect symbiosis of new (at least visual) ideas and tried and tested motifs. And the meta component goes even further when the Warner Brothers company demands the draft of a fourth part (“Matrix IV”) in the film and the development team around Anderson first lists what was wrong with the first three films, sorry : Play because what worked so well and what didn’t.
“Making Thomas Anderson aka Neo a game designer of a ‘Matrix’ video game trilogy in his world, whereupon the entire development office is based on the 1990s film look, is the perfect symbiosis of new (at least visual) ideas and tried and tested motifs.”
The fact that this is not done with a raised finger, but can also be understood as a kind homage, is another plus point of the first “Matrix 4” hour; Cynicism is not always the key to the goal or to “de-nostalgization”. And so, between the numerous, countable attributes of the first three films that the company boss unleashes during a brainstorming session, there is enough serious recognition that “The Matrix” rightly revolutionized the genre and was able to develop a huge fan base. But there is also a lot of self-reflection in these words, especially with regard to the far less successful sequels. Which makes it all the more unfortunate that after the first third Wachowski slides back into all too familiar territory that can no longer even benefit from visual technical revolutions; Simply because everything that was so groundbreaking in “The Matrix” has long since been seen. But until the time comes, or more precisely: Neo goes back into the Matrix, “Matrix: Resurrections” functions as both a reckoning and a bow. In particular, the figure of the therapist (Neil Patrick Harris), who helps Thomas Anderson in his fight against the long-term effects of his stay in the Matrix (= against the delusions), supported among other things by blue pills (!), contributes a lot to this the script fully exploits its potential for dehypitation. True to the motto: “Yeah, it was cool back then. But from today’s perspective, please also consider these and the weak points. Because today we know better.”
Reunited: Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Neo.
It’s almost annoyingly consistent that “Matrix 4” rushes into the depths from the moment Anderson decides to take the red pill again and leave his own reality. Ultimately, in the first hour, the story leaves it open to continue telling the film using the mechanisms that thrilled at the beginning of the franchise. Unfortunately, this inevitably devalues the self-critical part, which soon no longer plays any role at all and one asks oneself why the opportunity to retroactively expose the films was even given. So the makers succumb to the temptation of nostalgia – and are now offering what they assume is exactly how the kids of the nineties want to see a “Matrix 4”. The second and final third consequently take place again in the matrix; There are numerous reunions with old acquaintances. And you can’t help but notice that everything that happens here from now on has already happened many times over – and above all better. While the main conflict soon goes around in circles and Lana Wachowski and her cameramen Daniele Massaccesi (“Commissioner Rex”) and John Toll (“Jupiter Ascending”) The strong performances of Keanu Reves and Carrie-Anne Moss are not able to set any new accents visually, but rather just create sensationalism with slow motion and lens flares (“The Bye Bye Man”) under. The interaction between the two still works; Especially through the quiet scenes in Neo’s “reality”, the couple’s equally sparkling and respectful chemistry is immediately tangible. But under a hail of bullets and… This plus point can never develop in chases against dozens of opponents, some of whom remain very pale.
“While the main conflict soon goes around in circles and Lana Wachowski and her cameramen Daniele Massaccesi and John Toll cannot set any new visual accents, but only use slow motion and lens flares for showmanship, the strong performances of Keanu Reves and Carrie-Anne Moss are lost. “
“More of the Same” is the magic word for the last ninety minutes of the extremely generous 148 minutes. And that, when a final revisiting of Neo’s reality could easily continue the strong beginnings of the first hour; As an “illustration, like the fourth part of a film or gaming series not should look like” or something like that. As it is, “Matrix: Resurrections” is most comparable to the “Deadpool” films, which pretend to turn the comic film formula inside out, but in the end just follow the unwritten rules of the genre. It is questionable whether this will satisfy any part of the fan base. And whether the writers were aware of the strengths of their film’s opening.
Conclusion: “Matrix: Resurrections” begins as a splendid hybrid of bowing and dehypification. But after the first strong hour, the creatives try to satisfy the desires of the 1990s fans. And it “succeeds” more at the level of films two and three and is nowhere near the qualities of an original, whose strengths part four even points out, without any glorification.
“Matrix: Resurrections” can be seen in USA cinemas from December 23, 2021.