By John Hanlon
The Matrix Resurrections, which hits Blu-Ray this week, marks a return to the big screen franchise that ended in 2003 with The Matrix Revolutions. The trilogy began with The Matrix (1999), the beloved and eye-opening film that introduced the world to the computerized alternate world. Four years later, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions followed, completing the original trilogy.
Now, nearly twenty years later, The Matrix Resurrections features Keanu Reeves returning as Thomas Anderson, a man whose life gets quickly upended when he realizes he’s living in a manufactured world. In this new environment, Anderson is a video game designer who created a game about the matrix without realizing that the results of his vivid imagination were simply him remembering the reality he once faced.
Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), Neo’s former ally in the original trilogy, exists in Anderson’s new reality as Tiffany, a married mother who frequently visits a coffee shop near Anderson’s job.
Director Lana Wachowski, who directed the original trilogy alongside sibling Lilly Wachowski, helms the new film and she graces it with nods and flashbacks that bring viewers back to the original series. Much of the new film-- especially the first first act-- will feel familiar to Matrix fans. Once again. Anderson has to decide whether or not he wants to escape a manufactured world to experience reality.
Even though some of the plot feels familiar and relatively safe, the new chapter brings back some of the key ingredients that made the original films stand out. There’s an intelligence to the world here and a willingness for the characters to step back from the action scenes and engage in thoughtful discussions about free will and destiny. These discussions continue to make this series and the choices these characters face stand out.
While some of the beloved characters are missing from the original trilogy (and some fans will likely be disappointed), this sequel also a new energy from new players like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Morpheus and Jonathan Groff, who plays the smug and elegant Smith. Groff, for one, commands the screen when he arrives much as he did as King George in Hamilton. When he arrives in a dapper suit to take on the seemingly laid-back Anderson, it’s hard not to be thrilled with the match-up.
That being said, there are some elements of the plot that are a bit confusing to follow and some elements of it don’t seem coalesce as nicely as one would hope. The feature starts out with Anderson being recruited to a ragtag crew (sound familiar?) but ultimately turns into a story about Neo wanting to rescue Trinity so the plot sometimes veers off course and seemingly forgets about some of the characters it introduces early on.
The Matrix Resurrections doesn’t always feel a needed continuation of the series but for the most part, it definitely works and brings back the excitement of this long-dormant series. Featuring some of the great effects that made the original one stand out so much, the style here is different than the one often seen in other action movies and it’s fun to see to light of this franchise's fire rekindled once again.
The film won’t work for those longing for the entire original cast to return but it will work for those looking to see what this series has to offer. It still has plenty to say to those willing to listen.
The Matrix Resurrections is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD. It can be purchased by clicking here.