“The choice is an illusion. You already know what you have to do.”Bugs
Even with Hollywood’s penchant for the safety of franchise films and nostalgia, resurrecting this long-dormant series that had already steadily declined in quality came as something of a surprise, particularly as a sequel and not a wholesale reboot. The Matrix Resurrections seems equally awkward with this role, its opening act a self-aware, borderline parody as “Mr Anderson” finds himself developing a videogame sequel, complete with focus group survey results exploring the disparate reasons fans have been drawn to The Matrix, above all originality and freshness. It is bizarre but genuinely fun, and seems almost an apology for the turgid mess that follows. To her credit, Lana Wachowski (this time directing solo) does not simply retread old ground and chooses to examine the relationship between Neo and Trinity, exploring the extent to which our choices and identity are actually dependent on others. The first half of the film presents a compelling mystery as we try to understand how Neo and Trinity have survived and where they are, seemingly reinserted into the Matrix but robbed of their memories. Unfortunately the answers are underwhelming, arriving halfway into the film, and the second half is a real slog with the promise of an action-heavy resolution never really materialising. I have also never seen a sequel make such heavy use of previous footage, sometimes as fragmented memories, sometimes literally projected onto a set whilst similar events unfold. This tight link to the past makes reviving Morpheus and Agent Smith without their original actors all the more egregious. Astonishingly, given franchise’s reputation, there is not a single memorable action set piece in the entire film. People shoot a lot of automatic weapons, Keanu throws out protective forcefields from his hands, and a helicoptor hits a building again. The world of The Matrix always felt densely populated, both in the simulation and in Zion. Now it all feels like empty déjà vu.
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