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“After all these years, to be going back to where it all started. Back to the Matrix.”
The fourth Matrix film is here. Even in a world where seemingly no franchise is left dormant, it’s still odd to say the Wachowskis’ series has a new instalment. The original movie is a masterpiece, but after the less-appreciated sequels it appeared as though the rabbit hole had come to end. Well, it’s time to wake up Neo, because the Matrix has been revived.
Fittingly titled The Matrix Resurrections, the sequel to Warner Bros.’ ambitious sci-fi trilogy has all the hallmarks of what came before. Neo is as curious as he was in the first film. The action is intense. The set pieces are thrilling, and the philosophy is as heavy as ever before. There may be some obvious changes - just look at Morpheus - but beneath the aesthetic variations lies the same engine that powered the previous movies.
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Trading in the green filter of the earlier titles for a new, vibrant and rosier appearance, The Matrix Resurrections begins in beautiful San Francisco, where Neo now resides. Now he’s going by his original name of Thomas, and he takes blue pills regularly as prescribed by his therapist, played by Neil Patrick Harris.
Thomas’s medicated existence and the Douglas Sirk-esque world of colour he lives in all create an unmistakably ‘Matrix’ picture, despite there being little visual similarity. Nothing looks real but then, as Morpheus asked back in 1999, “What is real?”?
The apparent acceptance of falsehood is rife within The Matrix Resurrections, with the movie going fully self-aware multiple times. In these moments, it’s hard not to feel as though the mirror Neo once placed his fingers through is calling to the audience, revealing the artifice of everything as a means to pull you in deeper, so that the story can have a more profound impact.
Whereas the original Matrix gave hints of a simulation or hyperreality, Resurrections overwhelms you with it. Nothing feels natural or believable, yet it could be because it’s as overly stimulating as real life. There were moments where I was overwhelmed as the movie felt too real, too relevant to my own life. I don’t know whether that’s a good or bad thing in and of itself, but achieving that effect on an audience member is to be commended.
Despite feeling this strong connection, it’s not easy to say whether or not The Matrix Resurrections is a good movie. In many ways, it’s an enjoyable cinema experience. There are dizzying highs thanks to some intense fights, smooth dialogue and exciting plot points. Neo is still a charmingly naive character, and the changes to the world - both in and outside of the simulation - are compelling.
Sadly, there are also lows. Resurrections embraces much of the second and third Matrix films, particularly in terms of how it handles philosophical discussions. Some of the dialogue is not delivered as well as perhaps necessary, with awkward speed at times as if to intentionally dismiss heavier topics we’ve covered before. While this is helpful for the runtime, it won’t help newcomers or those who simply don’t remember what came before.
There’s also a tendency by some characters to pontificate in self-indulgent ways, which hurts the movie’s momentum. You can argue that these “weaker” moments are intentionally there. It’s often irritating when people opine about human nature, so why shouldn’t it be in a movie about the lines between reality and simulation? After all, I’m sure some of you reading this are annoyed by me sharing my opinion.
The Matrix Resurrections walks the line between reality and fantasy with unprecedented brilliance. At times it’s so believable it’s almost frightening. At others, it’s so fanciful and farfetched that it’s easier to switch off and simply enjoy the spectacle.
I suppose what I’m saying here is I can’t tell you how to feel about The Matrix Resurrections. Nor would I ever want to. Movies are there to be watched, not lectured about. I can say that I love this film, that I want to watch it again and again, and that its true meaning - likely different to everyone - is about love transcending all boundaries. I can also tell you that it’s my second-favourite Matrix picture after the original 1999 film.
I implore you to watch The Matrix Resurrections, if you’ve any interest in the previous titles, or if you just want to see a critique of modern society. But, of course that’s up to you. As Morpheus once said: “I can only show you the door. You’re the one who has to walk through it.”
Thanks to Warner Bros. for inviting GAMINGbible to a pre-release screening of The Matrix Resurrections. The film releases December 22, 2021.
Featured Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
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