A Brief History
On January 3, 2022, we take a look at the latest movie in the Matrix movie franchise, The Matrix Resurrections that we screened shortly after its release (December 22, 2021). Having watched all 3 of the previous Matrix movies (all starring Keanu Reeves as Neo), and even going so far as to re-watch them all in succession prior to screening the latest edition, we felt prepared to make an appropriate analysis of the new edition in the film franchise.
Several things jump right out at you when you see this new film. First, “Neo,” aka Keanu Reeves, is 57 years old in real life, meaning his agility and ability to perform spectacular stunts is somewhat diminished. There are indeed plenty of (extremely well choreographed) fight scenes, but not featuring Keanu at his best. The other major factor is that the latest film draws deeply on the previous films, not just for context and reference, but even by having liberal quantities of clips from the previous films. This technique makes for a rather odd feel to the movie, especially when you can see the aging of characters.
Speaking of characters, while Trinity/Tiffany is still played by Carrie-Anne Moss looking every bit of her 54 years, the Morpheus character made iconic by Laurence Fishburne is now portrayed by the much younger (age 35) Yahya Abdul-Mateen II who looks nothing like the now 60 year old Fishburne. This casting move is jarring and just plain weird. The main nemesis of Neo, Smith, replaces Hugo Weaving of the previous films with Jonathan Groff, another jarring change.
The replacement actors do a credible job in their roles, as do the other cast members, which include several well known stars such as Christina Ricci, Neil Patrick Harris, Jada Pinkett Smith and Priyanka Chopra Jonas as the grown up Sati. As the $190 million budget would imply, the movie is well made and the special effects are up to standards providing the eye candy viewers and fans of the Matrix films expect.
The Matrix Resurrections is ably directed by Lana Wachowski, and if you wonder just who this director is, you may know her better under her previous name and persona as Larry Wachowski. It seems both Wachowskis (Larry and Andy) have undergone gender reassignment procedures and are now females, Lana and Lila. Anyway, under either name, Lana has considerable science fiction movie experience and is a highly capable director., and also is a co-writer of the script.
The Matrix Resurrections has been received by critics and audiences alike with tepid acceptance, generally favorable but without any raving enthusiasm. The movie jumps around, especially between the present and the past (films) which made it somewhat hard for me to follow, though die hard Matrix fans would likely have less trouble keeping up with the plot. Box office revenue has yet to recover much more than half the budget cost by about 10 days after its (December 22) release. Running time is a longish 148 minutes, and it seems like a long movie when you watch it.
Early analysis indicates there are no further Matrix movies planned, at least not with the original cast members. Will filmmakers consider a reboot? Too early to tell right now. Anyway, we think the movie is entertaining and provides a reasonable wrap up to the franchise that should leave Matrix fans (mostly) satisfied. Audience members that like the film the most are those that are fans of the franchise, which makes sense given all the references to previous films. Even first time Matrix viewers may well like the film, as the visuals are indeed stunning and the action is relentless. If you are a first time Matrix viewer, you might consider watching the first 3 films in succession prior to watching The Matrix Resurrections to enhance your viewing pleasure. Despite the “R” rating, we think The Matrix Resurrections is suitable for kids as long as they are reasonably well adjusted and perhaps with their parents watching with them in the case of pre-teens.
Note: If you are leery of watching a film at an actual theater during the pandemic, you can watch The Matrix Resurrections on the HBO Max streaming service, although you might miss out on some of the advantages of seeing such a movie spectacle on the big screen.
Question for students (and subscribers): What is your favorite Matrix movie? Why? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Irwin, William. The Matrix and Philosophy: Welcome to the Desert of the Real. Open Court, 2002.
Taylor-Foster, Kim. Why We Love The Matrix. Running Press Adult, 2021.
The featured image in this article, a poster for The Matrix Resurrections, is used in an article that provides critical commentary on the film in question on a website used for education purposes whose servers are located in the United States per fair use under the copyright law of the United States.