REVIEW: Meta-filled ‘Matrix’ sequel stumbles despite good ideas

Birth, life and death was the course of the original “Matrix” trilogy, so a “Resurrection” nearly 20 years later is a logical step.

Familiar faces return in the latest “Matrix” feature, including the series hero Neo (Keanu Reeves), although now he appears to be living a normal life as Thomas Anderson in a regular office job. The audience soon learns, through a few new characters, that Neo is actually back in a version of the Matrix.

It turns out some events happened in the real world since the end of the third film, “Matrix Revolutions,” which resulted in the Matrix system continuing on in a new capacity. The film follows how the new characters interact with Neo and begin showing him his past, which results in him wanting a different future.

What do audiences want from their movies? What do they want from long running film series? “Resurrections,” under the direction of Lana Wachowski, explores this and more with a rather meta approach.

The film is full of subtext about how the original “Matrix” trilogy was interpreted, and the state of film sequels in general. From this perspective, the film is indeed interesting.

As the movie goes from scene-to-scene, one will easily pick up on what the filmmakers are saying about popular culture and nostalgia. The film’s meta commentary show’s a clear vision by Wachowski.

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Courtesy Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures.

It’s an aspect of the film that’s admirable. As is the film’s take on growth and changes in one’s life, which the “Matrix” has always explored right from its origin.

While one can give credit to what “Resurrections” is trying to say, though, there are issues in how it actually says it. One noticeable issue has actually been something the series has always dealt with, too.

The events inside the virtual world have always been several times more interesting during the “Matrix” movies than what happened in the real world. That’s even more true in “Resurrections.”

While the real world moments served a fair purpose in the original trilogy at least, in “Resurrections” they seem simply tacked on. The conflict between humans and machines that seemed to have been wrapped up at the end of “Revolutions” is apparently still going in some capacity, but it feels convoluted.

As a result, what is worked on and accomplished inside the Matrix in this new movie doesn’t feel entirely consequential to the outside world. As a result, it becomes difficult to care about the stakes.

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There’s of course a level of engagement that comes with seeing the two main, returning characters again. Neo and Trinity are compelling protagonists and both respective performers return to their roles without a hitch.

Personal growth and sacrifice have always been key elements to these two leads and it’s true again in “Resurrections.” There’s no doubt that their journey helps keep viewers engaged

It’s harder to be invested in the overall “Matrix,” though, world when the core conflict at play has become messy and seemingly less consequential. While Neo and Trinity’s story in this movie does produce dramatic elements, what’s happening around them feels kind of meaningless.

A comparison could be “Lord of the Rings.” The characters Frodo and Sam went on a harrowing journey and had personal growth that was compelling, as well as a friendship that was inspiring. However, it also had the backdrop of a war that would decide the fate of the world.

With “Resurrections,” there’s the adventure of the protagonists that’s enjoyable. Yet the backdrop, what it will all mean in the end, is a let down.

Action-wise, “Resurrections” does deliver to an extent. There’s combat in the second act against some familiar foes that satisfies and overall, it was enjoyable to see some bullet-time moments after a hiatus in Hollywood. However, none of it surpasses, say, the highway sequence in “Reloaded” or the final fight in “Revolutions.”

While the latest “Matrix” has some good concepts and commentary at play in its subtext, as well as a compelling quest for the main returning characters, “Resurrections” falls short. The world-building and main conflict are disappointingly convoluted and the action, while entertaining, doesn’t wow. 2.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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