WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.
PROCEED ACCORDINGLY IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN THIS MOVIE.
I usually have one of two motivations when it comes to reviewing a film I’ve just watched. (1) It was absolutely amazing and I can’t wait to tell y’all about it or, (2) It sucked so bad that matter actually was able to escape every black hole in the universe for a minimum of fifteen seconds.
I watched The Matrix: Resurrections, the fourth film in the franchise and first in 18 years, this afternoon. The short and simple review is this: It wasn’t fantastic. It didn’t suck. But when it was over I was left… unimpressed. As if I had gone to a 5-Star restaurant for dinner and got served a McDonald’s McRib meal instead. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a McRib meal, but not when I’m expecting a nice prime rib, with a baked potato and a Long Island Iced Tea.
And that’s what I got with this film, a McRib meal. It was just okay. It falls well short of the original trilogy in just about every aspect. You’ll want to watch it just once, in case there is a fifth film in the franchise and they decide to do a little better job of it, but as far as being a movie I’ll watch a few times? Nah.
It turns out we are six decades removed from the end of the third film. The Matrix has been upgraded, there are still some humans who plug back in and interact with the program, including one who claims to have seen Neo, alive and well, and that meeting woke her up. There is another character who claims to have had a similar experience and has gone looking for the assumed-dead Neo as well.
It turns out Neo is in fact alive and well, living as Thomas Anderson in the new Matrix, but unaware of his past life save for occasional visions which he attributes to relics of a nervous breakdown and an attempted suicide in sessions with his “analyst” (played by Neil Patrick Harris). Mr. Anderson is a game programmer now, coming off the success of his “trilogy game – The Matrix”, and is working on a new game platform. His business partner informs him that they will instead be working on a new Matrix game instead and begins using phrases that triggers flashbacks of Neo’s encounters with his old nemesis Agent Smith.
Spoiler alert: His business partner in fact turns out to be Agent Smith, despite the fact that Smith clearly was eradicated at the end of the third film. But who cares since Neo and Trinity were both killed at the end of the third film too and here they are alive and well. Oh, did I forget to mention that Mr. Anderson keeps running into a woman who looks exactly like Trinity at his favorite coffee shop? Her name is Tiffany, she’s married, has two kids and works on motorcycles. We’ll get back to her in just a few.
Neo is at work one day when the building is evacuated. Only, during the chaos, Neo gets a text message to meet someone in the mens room rather than follow everyone outside. Here he meets what looks like a very young Morpheus. We’ve met him already in the film, when he describes having seen a pattern in a mirror one day that “woke” him up from being an Agent, making him realize he was Morpheus and needed to find Neo.
He isn’t THE Lawrence Fishburne Morpheus we all grew to know and love. It turns out he was a program written by the part of Anderson that knew he was Neo despite the Matrix’s best efforts to convince him otherwise and is part Morpheus and part Agent Smith. Confused yet? Morpheus tries to get Anderson to take the red pill but is interrupted by a boat load of cops.
While Morpheus battles the cops, Anderson scrambles for cover only to have his boss walk in the room and go full Agent Smith on him. Just as Smith pulls the trigger on a certain kill shot, Anderson is suddenly in a chair at his analyst’s office, who appears to be talking Anderson out of an episode of confusing fantasy with reality again.
Really confused yet?
The Neo-Morpheus (see what I did there?) eventually tracks Anderson down again and this time convinces him to take the red pill. Another chase ensues as they get Neo out of the Matrix, as well as smuggle him out of the pod his body has been in all this time. As he is being lifted away we see another pod which appears to hold the plugged in body of Trinity.
Neo is taken to a new city, Io, which is where the human race and – brace yourself – some of the Matrix programs and some of the machines happily coexist. Captain Niobe, now General Niobe, runs the place. The real Morpheus is dead, as is Zion apparently. The machines had a civil war and a new power arose within the Matrix – I’m assuming the Architect was overthrown – who installed a new version and deleted several programs, including the Oracle.
Neo wants to go back and rescue Trinity, but Niobe won’t allow it, fearing Io will fall as did Zion. Aided by Captain Bugs, who helped Neo-Morpheus find and rescue him, Neo returns to approach Trinity to see if she is still Trinity or not. Only they find Smith waiting with a few exiles who survived the purge, including the Merovingian. In the ensuing fight, Smith damn near kills Neo again, before Neo manages to summon a new power and blow Smith clean out the side of building while the Merovingian – who has clearly declined in exile – babbles on about something then flees when the fight is over.
Neo finally reaches Trinity only to get thwarted by – his analyst – who turns out to be the new power running the Matrix now. He reveals that it was he that retrieved, restored and reinserted the previously deceased couple and has been using them to power and maintain the new Matrix. If Neo does not return and allow himself to be re-inserted, the Analyst will kill Trinity.
Neo, Bugs, Neo-Morpheus and crew return to Io to face Niobe’s wrath just ahead of Sati. You’ll remember her as the little girl who created that wonderful sunrise at the end of the third movie. Well, she’s all growed up and wants to avenge the death of her parents, her father being the program that made it possible for Neo and Trinity to be resurrected, at the hands of Analyst. She has a way for Neo to get Trinity out, if she wants out, without the Analyst being able to stop them.
Needless to say, the attempt is made, Trinity is given the choice and, after initially saying no, realizes who she really is and says yes. Another epic fight ensues, Smith suddenly shows up and helps Neo and Trinity get away from the Analyst, another chase scene plays out with Neo and Trinity up on a roof surrounded by helicopters. Neo, who still hasn’t fully recovered all of his powers, including flying, decides to take a leap of faith along with Trinity and they leap off the roof…
…and start falling toward the ground when suddenly…
…No. Neo doesn’t suddenly get his flying ability restored. But Trinity all of a suddenly can fly and she halts their terminal descent. They fly away, unplug from the Matrix and are reunited in the real world on Bugs’ ship. The next scene is an entire wall of the Analyst’s house blowing out and Trinity flying in. In between beating the tar out of him, while Neo watches, she informs the Analyst that they will be making a few changes in the Matrix then they both fly away (apparently Neo does regain his full powers after he no longer needs them to save their lives.)
And we fade, mercifully to black, to credits and a cutscene at the end that you can skip because it does absolutely nothing.
Like I said. It was an okay film. Nothing more. Nothing less. I did like the fact that Neo and Trinity got to live, a slightly delayed, happily ever after. I never did like the fact that both died at the end of the third film.
But there was so much wrong in this film that could have been easily avoided. If you weren’t going to bring back Fishburne as Morpheus then don’t bring back a weak facsimile of him. That they never contacted Fishburne about this film to begin with is criminal. He could have been in this film, leading Io with Niobe, realizing the threat from the new Matrix and sending someone in to look for Neo – say, Captain Bugs?
I know they tried to get Hugo Weaving to return as Agent Smith but couldn’t work out a scheduling conflict. Okay. Then create a new Agent-type nemesis instead. Jonathan Groff fell so well short of being Agent Smith to the point where I never took him as a serious threat to Neo as Weaving’s Smith was.
As for Neo and Trinity’s reawakening to their true selves, this too should have been done differently. Even though the Analyst explained that they needed to be kept close but not too close, the story could have been advanced with them continually bumping into one another. Each encounter would bring flashbacks of their previous lives until both realized something was amiss, sending out the signal Captain Bugs needed to track them down and make contact. You could keep Neo getting out first, with the Matrix moving Trinity’s body about to keep rescuers from reaching her until Sati could finally pinpoint her location and extract her.
You get a better storyline out of that.
But it wasn’t just the storyline that was off in this film. The chemistry between the actors was off as well, even between Reeves and Moss to some extent. As far as the new cast members there just wasn’t any chemistry at all. As far as the fight sequences and chase scenes they too well pale shades of the sequences we got in the first three movies. I found myself almost bored by them during certain points in this film.
I’ve spent the last few hours trying to figure out how to score this film. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being “I left the room/theater fives minutes into the film” and 10 being “OMFG, THIS IS AMAZING!!!!!”, I have to give this one the full Meh-5-out-of-10 score it deserves.
Let’s hope a potential fifth film can Resuscitate The Matrix franchise. (Did you see what I did there?)