Easily one of my most anticipated films of 2021, Lana Wachowski’s The Matrix Resurrections exceeded every possible expectation that this Matrix nerd had going into the sequel. Not only has The Matrix Resurrections firmly established itself as my favorite movie of the year, but I think that both Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss are absolutely incredible and somehow this latest film retroactively makes The Matrix Revolutions even better. It’s hard to explain just why I love The Matrix Resurrections as much as I do, but the best comparison I can make it that this feels like Lana has crafted her own Matrix story by way of New Nightmare here, and considering just how much I adore Wes Craven’s meta sequel with every fiber of my being, then perhaps it should come as no surprise that Resurrections absolutely blew my mind and thrilled me from start to finish.
Truth be told, based on how Revolutions ended, I had no idea just exactly how we were going to see the return of Neo (Reeves) and Trinity (Moss) for Resurrections, but I think the way Wachowski and co-screenwriters David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon were able to come back to this world after nearly 20 years later and find new narrative terrain to explore but also deliver up something that feels in line with the spirit of the first is a remarkable storytelling feat. I won’t say much about just how exactly things are set up, I can provide something of a basic rundown of the story that gives you an idea of what to expect without ruining any of the fun and surprises.
The basic set up is that Resurrections reintroduces us to the Wachowski’s world of two realities: the one that exists inside of The Matrix and the one outside of it where those who have been freed are keenly aware that the reality that they had been existing in was nothing more than a construct being manipulated by an Architect. Both Neo and Trinity have been resurrected through The Matrix, with Neo resuming his existence as Thomas Anderson and now Trinity is a wife and soccer mom named Tiffany. Thomas consistently struggles with delusions and regularly sees a psychoanalyst (Neil Patrick Harris) to help him get a grasp on reality, but after he interacts with Bugs (Jessica Henwick), one of the liberated who believes in the mythos of Neo (whose story has become something of a legend), Thomas begins to believe that he his inclination to believe that he may be something more than just a computer designer and that his existence in its current state is nothing more than a mirage.
I really don’t want to say too much more about the story of The Matrix Resurrections but if you’ve seen a trailer or any images, then you’ve probably noticed that the sequel also features a new iteration of Morpheus as well (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who fans should recognize from Nia DaCosta’s Candyman), and I will say that if you’re curious about just how the heck that happens, there’s a rather clever explanation for that as well (some fans may not realize that Laurence Fishburne’s character died in The Matrix Online MMORPG so I thought I’d mention that in case it was helpful). But considering the impact that Fishburne made on establishing the world of The Matrix in that first film, as he acts as the audiences’ (and Neo’s, of course) guide, that leaves Abdul-Mateen II with some pretty big shoes to fill in Resurrections, and I think his take on the character is pretty badass as well.
Of course, the big draw here is the return of Neo and Trinity, and I have to say that maybe it’s because I recently revisited the original Matrix trilogy, it never really dawned on me until now that for as cool and anti-establishment those stories were, the real heart of those movies was the love story between Reeves and Moss’ characters. What’s interesting though is that the dynamic in the Matrix trilogy was usually about Trinity doing whatever she needed to do to support Neo, but in The Matrix Resurrections, that dynamic has shifted completely where now the driving force behind Thomas/Neo’s journey in this story is finding a way to save and free Trinity (whose in-Matrix name is Tiffany which is pretty hilarious, but that’s on purpose). Exploring these new aspects of their characters allows both Reeves and Moss to do something different in Resurrections that we haven’t really seen before, and both of their performances are excellent (as a Keanu die-hard fan, I’d even argue his work here could be a contender for a top 5 performance from him). Also, Matrix newcomer Henrick is really damn awesome and I hope we get more Bugs in the future.
While there are a lot of familiar beats in The Matrix Resurrections that harkened back to the original trilogy, I think my favorite aspect is how it examines the concept of legacy and how we consume art in general. The questions that Wachowski, Mitchell and Hemon posit throughout this sequel are thought-provoking and intriguing and left me pondering my own feelings about life, work, my creative output, the choices I’ve made and just what all of that means, and very few blockbuster films from this (or recent years) have left that kind of mark on my psyche. I will say that the finale of Resurrections gets a little too complicated for its own good, but the last few minutes more than make up for that in some rather big ways, and I was absolutely floored by just how well Wachowski was able to bring everything from all four films full-circle here that left me excited and wanting more.
As a whole, I don’t think I could have possibly asked for a better reintegration into the world of The Matrix then what we get in The Matrix Resurrections. Even more so, this latest film reignited my love for this cinematic universe and all the storytelling possibilities that can come from this world first brought to life more than 20 years ago by Lilly and Lana Wachowski. The Matrix Resurrections may not work for everyone, but I know that it worked like gangbusters on me.
Movie Score: 5/5