THE MATRIX RESURRECTIONS (2021)

Keanu Reeves (Neo) and Carrie- Ann Moss(Trinity) in a still
  • Release Date: 22/12/2021
  • Cast: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Ann Moss, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff
  • Director: Lana Wachowski

The Matrix Resurrections is an insult to The Matrix Trilogy and everything memorable that it gave us

— Ambar Chatterjee

The Matrix Trilogy was one of the most iconic and imaginative pieces of filmmaking in the history of cinema. It not only influenced films and games for generations to come but also established ethos and storytelling elements that have been used, copied, and taken inspiration from ever since. It also gave us a unique take on heroes and villains that have inspired many protagonists and antagonists over the year. The Matrix drew attention to the Advaita Vedanta of Hinduism from which it takes its inspiration and derives its story elements. While the three films in the trilogy got progressively weaker as the story progressed, they still remained on point and always had something enterprising that made the movie-watching experience rewarding and were able to always surprise the audiences. Even to consider remaking such an iconic film trilogy must be backed by passion, an insatiable desire to tell a certain story, and also have ironclad logic and reason backing up the story and the characters. 

As I sat through The Matrix Resurrections, I felt insulted and sad. In front of my eyes were Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and just seeing them together reminded me of the wonderful outings that they had together. There was also the iconic matrix code dripping down from different screens. Oh! there was also Morpheus but the one I loved was just a projected image and was there for just serving as nostalgia. What made me sad was the fact that everything good about the Matrix films was getting desecrated by surprisingly the same human being who envisioned and created the original trilogy. 

Why would Lana Wachowski make a film like this that absolutely had no need to exist? Why would she take everything serious, somber, and threatening about the Matrix trilogy and turn it into a practical joke that wasn’t even funny to extract a laugh? Why would Lana take the concept of Neo being the one and the messiah in the original trilogy and destroy it by undoing everything and proving the point that all along it was Neo and Trinity together that created all the ruckus, and that it was Trinity who was integral to everything and that without her, Neo was neutralizable? 

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus in a still

Why would Lana take an iconic character like Morpheus (played by Laurence Fishburne in the original trilogy) and turn him into a garishly dressed sarcastic comical overkill who every time he appears on screen makes you cringe more than laugh? Why would Lana take an imposing and giant of an antagonist like Smith (played by Hugo Weaving in the original) and turn him into a boy next door who for God’s sake even partners with Neo for a while so that he may survive? If this is not cinematic blasphemy, then I don’t know what is.     

One of the most iconic aspects of the original Matrix films were its scintillating action sequences that were a mishmash of martial arts, gunplay, explosions, high octane chases, and some sensationally well-envisioned and better still executed gimmicks like bullet-time aid and the gravity-defying stunts. The action of the films was something that got progressively better as we move ahead in the trilogy. Shockingly, the action of The Matrix Resurrections is some of the most uninspiring and ordinary that I have experienced in a long time. Almost all the hand-to-hand combats are filmed either in closeups or in medium shots documenting the fact that most of the action was done either by extras or were executed in a manner that didn’t allow for a wider range of view. This takes away the physicality and believability from the action and doesn’t let us feel the impact of it. It also makes the action look clumsy and audiences hardly get an idea of the choreography of it. 

It is also a fact that the film doesn’t for a second take its characters or the threats involved seriously. I clearly remember that in the original, meeting an agent in the matrix meant the end for the characters. Except for Neo, whoever came across an agent had to either die or narrowly escape by some stroke of luck. In this film, characters, while they are chased by agents, never show any signs of being in peril. Neither does the screenplay nor the dialogue suggests them being in any kind of mortal danger. On the contrary, the characters exchange comic banters and sarcastic one-liners as they are either on the run or facing off against the agents. This felt unacceptable to me. The manner in which bullets are sprayed on characters and yet they escape without any scratches was unfathomable.

Jessica Henwick as Bugs in a still

The only thing that the makers developed well was the doomed romance between Neo and Trinity. It felt warranted and the manner in which the two characters went about it felt well-rendered, worthwhile, and infused some real human emotions in an otherwise emotionally bankrupt narrative. Sadly, in trying to realize that one relationship and making it the central plot point of everything that happens in this film, the makers rob the originals of all that they had set up and also base the current film on something that is neither emotionally shattering nor has the possibilities of incorporating larger than life stakes resulting in a thrilling film. 

The makers reserve their worst for the character of Morpheus (now played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Morpheus is a computer program and only transports to the real world in a digitally particle-ized form. That is the least of the problems with the character. What is the actual problem with the character is how he shrugs off everything iconic about Morpheus and how the makers present it as something cool. The mannerisms of the character are in such contrast with the previous Morpheus that I didn’t know how to react to this outrageously offensive reimagining of the character. 

Jonathan Groff plays an updated version of Smith and his rendering of the character is often juxtaposed with bits of the original Smith. This not only discourages any efforts to accept Groff as a new rendition of the beloved character but also reminds us how much better Hugo Weaving was both in terms of his performance as well as the rendering of the character that struck fear in the hearts of the audiences. Why would I be perturbed by this pristine and innocuous new version of the character that could only bore Neo to death with his pretentious dialogue delivery and lack of guiles?

Jonathan Groff as Smith in a still

A lot is being said about how Jessica Henwick’s Bugs is otherworldly good in her realization of the character and how she is better than Keanu Reeves and Carrie Ann- Moss in the film. I didn’t care for the character of Bugs. Why would I care for a side character when even the great Neo felt as if he was only sleepwalking through his role? This also brings me to the point that if in a Matrix film, a character like Bugs is better than Neo and Trinity then what does that tell us about the rest of the film? The character of Bugs is a bloated overstay of welcome of a character that should not have been anything more than a sidekick.

This also brings me to the on-your-face gender politics of the film. Not only does Lana Wachowski undo the singularity of the “One”, but she also hands over every major positive and strong character in the film to females that feels extremely odd after a while. She is not satisfied with Trinity taking CenterStage and taking over the mantle of flying from Neo. She also had to ensure that every female in the film is diverse, strong, and always tells the men what they must do. The men only follow. However, the characters of the villains are all overwhelmingly given to men, but they break like bone-china pots when a strong female character kick them hard enough. 

There was no need to take something as good as The Matrix and turn it into something so obnoxiously boring and offensive. This will not even prove to be a cash grab as for that to happen it had to be at least entertaining. Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss get lost and buried under a mountain of moist and stinking excrement that is the plot and screenplay of this film. They try to crawl out of it through the entire film but are ultimately unsuccessful. 

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.
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