The Matrix Resurrections: An Overly-Familiar Return to the Series (4K/Blu-ray)
For many years, after the completion of the original "Matrix" trilogy, there had been rumors of yet another film being developed for the series, with many wondering how anyone would be able to continue the story that had seemingly wrapped up at the end of the third film. 18 long years later, we've gotten our answer with Lana Wachowski's "The Matrix Resurrections." With such a long duration between films, it also left many wondering if the clock had run out on such a sequel, especially given how sequels/reboots done so long after the last entry have a tendency to turn out rather sub-par. Would this return to "The Matrix" be just another example to toss on the growing heap?
"The Matrix Resurrections" opens as Bugs (Jessica Henwick) discovers that a program (a "modal") being run by Neo (aka Thomas Anderson) (Keanu Reeves) is replaying the time when Trinity (Carrie Anne-Moss) discovered him on a loop. She also discovers that this same program is imprisoning Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), helping to free him before he can be erased. Meanwhile, we learn that Neo is now a video game developer, who created a hit series based on his vague memories of The Matrix. He's leading a normal life, blissfully unaware of his true past, and yet he becomes somewhat obsessed with a woman named Tiffany (who's actually Trinity), running into her several times at a local coffee shop. We also learn that Neo has been having trouble distinguishing between fantasy and reality, which comes to a head when Bugs and Morpheus show up and rescue him from his captivity, pulling him into a conflict that has Trinity's life hanging in the balance, as well as the entire fate of The Matrix.
If there's one thing that everyone remembers from the original trilogy, it's the incredible visual effects and stunts (fighting, flying, jumping, etc.) that redefined the action genre, introducing the world to "bullet time" and showing us a wide range of unforgettable scenes that kept our eyes glued to the screen. While it may not show us anything new exactly, "The Matrix Resurrections" does continue the streak of being rather impressive in this area as well. The BAFTA-nominated visual effects are once again astounding, and the stunts (which recently earned a SAG Award nomination) are highly entertaining throughout, giving the film a number of fun adrenaline kicks.
However, unfortunately all of that is second tier to the film's rather sub-par writing. What we get with this new entry is a film that feels like the writers were too afraid to try something original, subsequently causing them to churn out what could appropriately be called a basic rehash of the first film. That is, it follows the beats of the original so closely that it feels as though the whole idea was for the audience to remember how amazing that first film was, instead of getting absorbed in the one currently in front of them.
Because of this, it feels like the film doesn't have much of an identity of its own as we watch these familiar beats play out (the recent "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" has a very similar issue where they felt the need to inundate you with callbacks to the original), and even though it may have those impressive elements mentioned earlier, it becomes a bit of a forgettable, perfunctory slog without a more original foundation to draw the viewer back into this world.
On the whole, it's hardly a terrible effort, but the writers (Lana Wachowski, David Mitchell, and Aleksandar Hemon) really did need to put more effort into differentiating it from the 1999 classic so that the audience is left with more than a feeling of deja-vu. With 18 long years to develop a sequel to the groundbreaking series, you would think that they would've had plenty of time to come up with something that would blow everyone away once more, but sadly we're ultimately left with a middling effort that may look great, but will quickly fade from your brain shortly after.
"The Matrix Resurrections" comes to 4K and Blu-ray in 2160p and 1080p UHD/HD, 2:39:1 transfers of outstanding quality. The film simply looks fantastic through and through, highlighting the extraordinary amount of visual effects and stunts featured throughout. Likewise, the Dolby Atmos-TrueHD audio is superb, giving you all of the dialogue, sound effects, and score in excellent quality. Overall, the film has been given the standard Warner Bros. treatment, ensuring a great experience for those adding it to their collection.
No One Can Be Told What the Matrix Is (9 Minutes): A featurette that has the cast trying to explain what "The Matrix" is about.
Resurrecting The Matrix (32 Minutes): A featurette about bringing the franchise back to life.
The San Fran Jump (8 Minutes): A look at one of the film's big stunt pieces.
Neo x Trinity: Return to The Matrix (8 Minutes): Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss discuss the franchise.
Allies + Adversaries: The Matrix Remixed (8 Minutes): A featurette that looks at the supporting characters.
Matrix 4 Life (6 Minutes): A featurette about the cast and crew returning to the franchise.
I Still Know Kung Fu (5 Minutes): A brief look at the film's stunts.
The Matrix Reactions (49 Minutes): A collection of nine featurettes that explore various scenes from the film.
While "The Matrix Resurrections" boasts impressive visual effects and stunt work, it's unfortunately let down by sub-par writing that becomes too much of a rehash of the original classic, following far too many similar beats, and ultimately struggling to find an identity of its own. There is some entertainment value to be had, but this is one trip to The Matrix that is forgotten pretty quickly.
Available on 4K/Blu-ray starting tomorrow.
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