Out of 10, this movie gets a score of one. Is that too harsh? I would actually give it a negative score if possible. That’s because the very existence of this film as canon in the Matrix universe would debase the incredible story and deep philosophical questions that the films, particularly the first, pose.
A review in bullet points because my brain is screaming at a keyboard right now and my fingers can only catch thoughts in list form. 🤣😅
- The actors are generally great. Neil Patrick Harris in particular brings tons of flair to his antagonist character the Analyst, notwithstanding the awful script.
- The set designs and costumes look good, in my opinion. I don’t feel I can comment in depth on either, though.
- The ship is “built in the EU” hehe. Is this side of the pond technologically dominant in the world of the Matrix?
The very bad
This will be a part so big it needs subsections. Let’s jump straight in.
makes no sense. There are so many incomprehensible things that baffle the mind. The original Matrix (trilogy) was sometimes weird, but every plot point made sense, sometimes not straight away, sometimes in a convoluted fashion, but it always made sense. Not only that, but the choices undertaken by the various parties were clever. Now?…
- The whole thing in this is this immense, incredible love between the two protagonists that is so strong that it could power the Matrix. We mean actual energy here. Hold on now. The original’s choice of having humans be grown as power sources was questionable, since we know from physiology we are not efficient as temperature-generating things, but at least there was an attempt. It was an argument, even if bad. But the emotion of love generating actual electricity, but only if the bodies are physically close, is straight up Harry Potter magic. Which is ok, but the trilogy has never been about magic. It was about technology, its dangers, its limitations. It was about programs that live in a world that is built on rules. About humans living in a real world that is dark, cold, dangerous, scarce, highly technologically advanced, and yet all the tech could not save the human race from its own mistakes. It never was about magic.
- The script decided that the original Neo and Trinity did die, but the machine reconstructed their bodies and minds. So the machines possess now the power of resurrecting humans real-world-dead? How would that possibly work? Movie shows some surgical lasers and a bath of primordial fixing-goop. How would that restore a human’s mind is anyone’s guess. And even if they could… is that person actually Neo? If the machines can write consciousness over human brains. That means they can write anything they want. So why don’t they?…
- Let’s jump to the beginning. Why the humans can only reach Neo by hacking the Matrix game-universe? Why did the human race lose the power to directly hack the Matrix itself?
- At the same time, the hackers don’t hide themselves from people when they’re using their doorways to move around. I distinctly remember in the Matrix Reloaded when a lady walked in on The Burly Brawl she immediately got taken over by an agent. Now this doesn’t happen anymore: are Resurrections' hackers not wanted men and women in the new Matrix?
- Morpheus is a program now. Therefore, he’s clearly not the same Morpheus. However, he kinda is? He looks like he wants to take his mantle and he clearly took his name - so what? Did the machines, whose aim should be that everyone forgets Neo, Morpheus and their team of revolutionary hackers, name a program Morpheus? And that program in particular decides to go off programming and start looking for Neo to help him?
- By the way, does Bugs trust an agent program so much that she hugs him after a bit of dialogue and after his name reveal only? She treats him like he’s actually the human Morpheus, so the movie is both telling us that Morpheus was a program all along, and also telling us that no, this Morpheus is something else entirely.
- In the final big fight, the Analyst says that he can’t lose both Neo and Trinity. But if the Matrix is now powered by their love and their physical vicinity, how is losing both of them any worse than losing only one?
- Why is Trinity also The One now? The original One was someone introduced by the Matrix’s Architect to “balance the equation”. The purpose of the second One is…? By the way - there’s no need for this. Two characters can be equally just as important without their power matching. For proof, see… Neo, Trinity and Morpheus in the original Matrix. See tons of fantastic characters in literature. These two though now have matching powers and fly up into the sky.
The special effects
Whole sections of the movie feel written only to showcase a particular CGI scene.
- What was the point story wise in having Bugs be plugged in at Trinity’s pod, just to have both disconnected seconds after? Feels like it was only to showcase the 5-Trinities CGI effect and the two women fighting as one for a few seconds. An effect which, of course, was promptly inserted into the trailers.
- The parts in which the Analyst slows down time feel choppy. They look like a game which run out of processing power and now runs at 15 FPS. I’m starting to feel like this was not a stylistic decision at all. I cannot bring myself to believe that there are any filmmakers that think that effect looks good. I dare to venture the guess that this was simply done so that they had to render fewer frames for the movie, and lower the CGI budget for those scenes. I’m sure this is a very ungenerous critique - but seen how this movie seems to just not care, I really think mine is not such a far fetched possibility.
The stylistic choices
- From crisp, practical jumps in the dojo and bullet-time on rooftops to shaky cam galore. This is as disappointing as a sequel to an action movie can be. Yep, the actors are way older now and it’s unfair to expect much from them. But there’s still so much you can do without shaking the camera. If one cares.
- Again, we’re not expecting that Keanu can top the amazing choreography from the original Matrix, but the only thing he’s doing is stopping bullets and force push. Personally I’d much rather not seen him fight at all. It’d been so much better than this bland fan service. He was thrown once. I managed to count 3 cuts from start to landing.
- Something that I’m sure has quite a few people bothered beyond belief: why so many inserts of footage from the Matrix original. Why do you keep reminding us that a much better movie exists in this franchise. Please make us forget; oh god, make us forget.
Ignorance is bliss. ~A good movie, 1999
Bugs looks to be a pretty important character starting the film out, but then she fades out in the background. Why the hell was she so hell-bent on freeing Neo? The answer the movie gives us: “because you changed my life”. And then they push the red pill onto Neo. He’s not sure he wants to take it, he’s hesitant, he’s constantly questioning what the hackers show him. In the first movie he had much less to go on, and he took the red pill anyway and very eagerly. In this one, he witnessed tons of unnatural things and still was on the edge. The red pill on him feels forced. And you’re really questioning why are we even watching a story that starts by pretty much press-ganging Neo into the real world.
The last we saw Niobe was in 2003, in a moving scene, grateful to Neo, understanding his sacrifice while the Sentinels slowly left Zion. Now, we find her imprisoning him straight away with no apparent reason at all. And when Neo laments that choice, her response is
I know it doesn’t seem fair, but neither does growing old. But you don’t hear me complaining. ~The Matrix Resurrections, 2021
No, I’m not joking here: that’s the line delivered by the leader of the humans. She’s old now, and this is her line when asked about why she’s imprisoning Neo. Also, is antagonising everyone around her the best that Niobe can do to protect the new human city? Why is she even the guide and hope of the remaining human race if she’s such a weak and nonsensical character?
The “new” agent Smith is not Smith at all. I’m not in principle against recasting roles, however the new Smith has nothing of the old one. His choices make no sense whatsoever. He held as much of a hatred towards our hero Neo as anyone can hate anyone. And now, he’s toying with him, and when that is interrupted, he helps him. Cue funny circus music here.
Neo is a shell of his former self. Not that he had tons of personality or character development in the trilogy, but right now he’s basically a walking frowny face that needs to save Trinity. Dude.
Was this done only to distribute paychecks around at the expense of Warner? It would explain so much, really, from the awful inserts to the shaky cam to the story making zero sense.
Can all of these be “explained” away by the eventual sequel to this sequel? Possibly. But that’s missing the point. The original movie, and even the original trilogy, were a compelling, interesting story about technology, philosophy, life, spirituality, fate, freedom, faith, and the human spirit.
This one - I really can’t place. It’s a strange look over a story that’s based on nonsensical choices by all parties and how those stories might evolve if nobody had a personality and realistic motivations. It leaves you with questions yes, but not of the good kind. Nothing of the philosophical themes of the originals. Some explosions but really nothing that looks good. Some scenes that seem to happen only to showcase a visual effect that’s original to this movie.
Let me conclude with a super talented youtuber giving his take → on this
beautiful cash grab unfortunate fourth chapter to one of the most groundbreaking franchises in movie history.