The Matrix Resurrections offers incredible action sequences, mind-bending effects and tongue in cheek humour throughout, even if it has plenty of blemishes.
2021 seems to have been a year of skepticism towards blockbusters: there was the Spielberg remake of West Side Story, at first a controversial decision that saw film fans divided until the film released to surprisingly intense acclaim; there was Spider-Man: No Way Home, a film so abundantly hyped up that disappointment seemed almost inevitable… until the film released to huge acclaim and incredible box office numbers, and then there was the news surrounding a fourth Matrix film. With reboot culture typically being seen as the wart on the face of the modern film industry and nothing more than money-grubbing cynicism by the vast majority of film fans, the news that only one half of the Wachowski duo would be directing The Matrix Resurrections seemed to only make things worse for the upcoming film.
Its release, however, has proven a surprising point about auteurism in film and offers some insight into the contemporary studio. The polarising audience response is the first element that stands out here – many claim that the film is too familiar, sharing too many similarities with its predecessors and leaning on their legacy entirely, whilst others claim that it is too distant from the originals. It seems that people are struggling to dig through the plentiful layers of irony utilised by Lana Wachowski in the script to see what Resurrections is trying to say.
The first 45 minutes or so of this film showed an insane amount of promise for what was to come – the rewriting of The Matrix‘s legacy, done in a genuinely genius manner that shouldn’t be spoiled for those who haven’t yet seen this film, is intelligent and refreshing, allowing Wachowski space to be self aware and to poke fun at reboot and remake culture itself. There are plenty of arguments about whether the film is hypocritical for consistently mocking the consumerist-driven reboot culture whilst also partaking in it, but the argument seems to quite clearly be that the artistry of those remakes or reboots is the important part, not the idea of simply leaning back into old ideas. As one character says, most stories are effectively the same with changed names and locations, so it is the way that those stories are told that is important.
And for the most part, The Matrix Resurrections tells its story in a great way, but it is far from perfect. Much of the humour is quite stilted in spite of its ironic tone – having a rich and out-of-touch executive speak in internet slang is almost never funny, even if mocking them, and having a man narrate an otherwise thrilling action set-piece in a French accent rambling about remake culture sounds like something I’m making up, doesn’t it? Thankfully, that humour doesn’t take up too much of the film and the action keeps the pace going. For a film with a runtime of almost 150 minutes, the majority of this does fly by, especially that aforementioned opening act and the film’s brilliant finale which is some of the best big-budget action in quite some time.
So, The Matrix Resurrections is largely a welcome addition to the Matrix franchise, enriching the lore and genuinely wanting to do new things with the story whilst also using it to make many satirical comments about remake culture as it is in Hollywood today. See it on the big screen, if possible, as the action sequences are visually fantastic.
The Matrix Resurrections is now in cinemas, certificate 15. See the trailer below: