The Matrix Resurrections is going to turn off a lot of people. If your relationship with the series boils down to its Nü-Millenium ideas of coolness, this movie is not for you. If the self-serious tone was what made you believe in what The Matrix had to offer, this fourth installment could be downright repellant to you. If safe, easy, uncomplicated blockbuster storytelling is what you want, you’re probably going to go see Spider-Man: No Way Home for a second or third time. But for those of us who like to see big studio movies actually take huge creative risks and show they have a brain when it comes to what they are doing, The Matrix Resurrections is one of the most refreshing experiences in years.
To be fair, The Matrix Resurrections also bucks the trend of soft reboots in a way that will be unavoidably alienating to some. This is a movie that trusts you are knowledgeable about the original trilogy in more than a cursory fashion. Unlike The Force Awakens or Halloween (2018), there isn’t an easy road in for new viewers. From a business perspective, that is the worst possible decision. But creatively, it allows this new movie to act as an incredible piece of self-reflection in a way soft reboots really can’t by design. A big chunk of The Matrix Resurrections deals with the franchise’s own impact on culture and the wrong kinds of takeaways it created with fans and executives. A lot of that is done in the movie’s first hour in such a meta way that it will come off as pretentious to those who don’t know how brilliant movies like Wes Craven’s New Nightmare or Gremlins 2: The New Batch have proven to be.
But the meta-commentary about The Matrix movies in The Matrix Resurrections is only scratching the surface of all the things this movie wants to talk about. The original trilogy has held up when it comes to their philosophical examinations about a huge range of topics. This newest entry continues that tradition in equally thought-provoking ways. Social media’s manipulation of the populace’s feelings as a form of control, self-identity vs. the world’s perception of yourself, feminine power, the insidious nature of binary power constructs, and many more invigorating themes are being picked apart and presented. It’s a whole lot to process and requires more viewings, but that’s always been part of The Matrix’s charm as a property. Writer/director Lana Wachowski and co-writers Aleksandar Hemon and David Mitchell have jam-packed this entry with more provocative ideas and worthwhile critiques about modern society than anything in the majority of other studios’ tentpole releases.
However, it isn’t all brainy overanalyzing and meta examination. The Matrix Resurrections understands that love is what has really powered the heart of the series, and the story between Neo and Trinity reaffirms their place as one of the all-time great movie couples. Some of the most moving and effective scenes just feature Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss sitting at a table together in a coffee shop. The magnetism and warmth between these two actors and the characters they portray are still on point. By the end of the movie, they have moments that will put goosebumps on your arm if you love them the way they love each other.
Though, as was stated in the opening of this review, The Matrix Resurrections rejects so much of the stoic and streamlined coolness that the franchise became infamous for and instead really embraces the wackier elements that people seem to distance themselves from. This movie has some wonderfully funny moments and is overall a more flamboyant experience than most will expect. That’s a plus for this writer but it’s easy to see why lots of folks will find it to be unwelcome in a Matrix movie. Suffice to say, The Matrix Resurrections feels totally comfortable in its new skin and isn’t too concerned about what fanboys and other surface-level pop culture connoisseurs will think. That’s bold in a way that we haven’t seen from blockbuster cinema since The Last Jedi.
The Matrix Resurrections is wild, complex, energetic, heartfelt, thrilling, meditative, and utterly assured in itself. So, it’s another Matrix movie. There is far too much to siphon through in one review and that is the most ringing endorsement of them all. The Matrix Resurrections. No doubt a good chunk of people will dismiss it outright, but for those that plug in, a brave new world awaits.