Film Review: The Matrix Resurrections

While Hollywood has beaten the Terminator series into the ground with too much “market research” and not enough of the core story – A.I. taking over the universe, fans of the Matrix have been obsessed with climbing down the rabbit hole again.

Sure, Trinity and Neo have a bit more chemistry as older folk rather than the cold, machine like loveless “marriage” they endured in the previous iterations, yet there is a far more inviting undercurrent between Jonathan Groff as the new “Smith,” and his polar opposite, Neo (Keanu Reeves.)

The previous Smith, Hugo Weaving, was sexless and boring. In these worlds created by Artificial Intelligence, anything goes, so the story line is actually a moot point as it can travel over, under, sideways or down and still make sense. Shake up the snow cone and let the particles fall where they may.

The introduction of Groff as Reeves’ acting nemesis is all the more vibrant in this Matrix 4, eye candy for the masses, and certainly the introduction of a ruggedly handsome opponent takes years off of Keanu’s actual age on camera. The Reeves/Groff pairing is sizzling while the Trinity/Neo combo -while still awkward – has a sister/brother love that makes more sense when seen in that light.

If you recall 2015’s lifeless Jupiter Ascending motion picture from Lana and Lilly Wachowski, one wondered why – at least economically – they didn’t make the Matrix IV instead of that exercise in crafting weak science fiction (mirroring the yawn that was… say, The Fifth Element.) So here we are in 2021 with the Matrix gaming product and it neither disappoints nor does it actually excite. The result is more… curious …opening imaginative pathways to what a world ruled by A.I. could potentially be. That, my friends, is where this Matrix needed to proceed more deeply. Alas, fighting and fleeing – all done before – pads the script and hides the philosophical, to the story’s detriment.

Yet it still is refreshing to have the psychedelic parade back, and it is a far cry from aforementioned Fifth Element and Jupiter Ascending sci-fi misfires. It just could have been so much more.

The flashbacks to previous Matrix ideas – straight from the actual films – all as acceptable as a Return to Talos IV – the jolt much needed in the Star Trek franchise. You see The Cage …alias the Menagerie – one of my all-time films (the original pilot to Star Trek) IS the Matrix idea. Only it is the indigenous species of Talos IV who / that retrieve, mine and extrapolate ideas out of human imagination while the Matrix A.I. create imagery and environment for their human slaves.

The Talosians should have treated the humans as pets, they would have got a lot further with honey than vinegar, but the A.I. in the Matrix have no such feelings. The A.I. attempt to become human, in what was the Architect’s despising mankind, but still needing a formula to use the human race.

The brilliant Architect, a key character in the series, is replaced wonderfully by Neil Patrick Harris as the Analyst. They pretty much share the same, nefarious purpose, digital elements as in Terminator Genisys expose the actual being, but Patrick Harris plays the part well. Maybe setting him up for battle with the Architect in the next sequel or a one after. The biggest disappointment is Lambert Wilson as a “new” or older Merovingian. Wilson is simply not given a good enough script for participation as malevolent as past outings.

The powerful Merovingian with his chess match against the Oracle made for an inviting set of challenges that demanded repeat viewings. This ragged old Merovingian in Resurrections – played by the same original actor, Wilson, doesn’t have the suave arrogance that made “Merv,” as Trinity nicknamed him, such a huge screen presence in the previous films.

The Merovingian in Resurrections is as impotent as the lack of the Architect and Oracle characters. It falls flat. Indeed, the failure to properly use Merovingian is the most identifying flaw – of quite a few – in this new film.

However, flaws aside, and as stated, it’s great to have the Matrix back, and for those of us studying the amalgam of philosophies mixed into the world of the machines, there is enough to tantalize and fascinate. Allegedly using film footage (outtakes) from Sony’s recent Venom sequel – of unnecessary helicopters chasing Neo, well, the violence and the bullets flying are still there, regrettably. For at the end of the day it’s the mind trip, the Earth version of Talos IV, that is the real psychology, entertainment and call to this new world of science fiction. What is totally amazing is the extended version of The Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” – Grace Slick’s psychedelic masterpiece, and how it and the film become inseparable. Let’s have more of that when this movie’s sequel is put together, which is inevitable.