‘Martix: Resurrections’ choses incorrect pill

Ethan Dobbins, Editor-in-Chief

After 18 years of waiting, the fourth installment of “The Matrix” series, “The Matrix Resurrections”, finally made its way to theaters and streaming on Dec. 22, 2021. Having received mixed reviews across the board, one thing is for certain: there is a lot to say about this movie. 

“The Matrix Resurrections” takes place many, many years after the events of the third movie, “The Matrix Revolutions,” after Neo (Keanu Reeves), the series’s protagonist, frees humanity from the simulated reality, the Matrix, which hyper-intelligent machines have created to use humans as a power source. The third film ends with a bittersweet conclusion with the war between humans and machines ending shortly after the death of both heroes, Neo and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss). Trinity dies in a hovercraft crash and Neo dies after his final, epic battle with Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), who at this point the Matrix cannot control anymore, and who Neo agreed to fight in order to save Machine City in exchange for an end to the human-machine war. Neo defeats Agent Smith, while losing his own life in the process, and the last time we see Neo is him being carried away by the Machines, never to be seen again. 

Fast forward to “The Matrix Resurrections” where Neo lives the life of a well established video game designer and creator of the hit series, “The Matrix”. In the fourth installment, Neo has no recollection of ever being in the Matrix and finds himself living a normal life, with his old name, Thomas Anderson. The only memory he has of the Matrix is periodical deja vu, which his therapist insists is just stress from working too hard and that he is beginning to mistake the real world for the very games he has created.

Why It Was Bad: 

Despite so much hype revolving around a fourth Matrix movie, I went into this movie with low expectations. While my expectations were low, I was still royally disappointed with its execution. First and foremost, Lana Wachowski, one of the directors of the other three “Matrix” movies, had no intentions of making a fourth movie. Warner Brothers had contacted her in hopes of making “Matrix 4” and she said no; however, they were going to make the movie whether she said yes or no. Thus, it is widely accepted that Wachowski made the movie bad on purpose in order to halt the making of any future movies. 

To quote another “Matrix 4” review, “she took the ball and ran over it with her car so that no one else could play with it” (as per reviewer, Jax Dagger). 

Personally, I believe that the movie banks too much on footage and references from the original trilogy. I watched this movie in hopes that it would be something new and refreshing, but instead I was force fed nostalgia in a not so subtle way. For example, in the opening moments of the movie, a now digitized Morpheus confronts Neo in the bathroom where we see the red pill, blue pill scene pan out for a second time; however, this time Neo is only offered the red pill. While Neo makes his decision, the scene from The Matrix (1999) is projected onto the wall, showing Neo that this has all happened before, while simultaneously reminding the audience that this new iteration will never be as good as the first. 

In addition to being too meta to handle, the movie also takes away its greatest challenge: the escape. In the first three Matrix movies, redpills, the people who successfully escaped the Matrix and reentered to find others to join their team, used ordinary hardline phones or phone booths in order to escape. However, in The Matrix Resurrections rotary phones are no longer used to escape, but instead mirrors or reflective surfaces that the users can fit through, thus eliminating the challenge and struggle that constantly kept you on your toes in the first three movies. 

Next, the fight scenes. While the movie itself saw no break in the action and it was still filled with kung fu, the choreography was a far cry from the original movies. On top of that, Neo was highly weakened throughout the entire movie, really only acting as a bulletproof shield who had one interesting fight with his former enemy, Agent Smith.

Lastly, certain characters in the movie were underwhelming. First, let’s deal with the elephant in the room: the lack of Laurence Fishburne. While the new actor for Morpheus isn’t bad (in fact, I think Yahya Adbul-Mateen II was the movie’s best option for the role ), the writers got his character design all wrong. In “The Matrix Resurrections”, Morpheus is dead (which is a whole story on its own) and is introduced as a program created out of Neo’s subconscious. In my opinion, Morpheus’ character in the new movie is too animated. In the original trilogy, Morpheus was the type of character that believed in miracles, was super wise and philosophical, and a mentor to “the One;” however, the new character is not played as the mentor but instead as the “cool guy” of the group. Also, the reincarnates of Agent Smith (now played by Jonathan Groff) and the Architect. Both villains aren’t really villains, they’re just kind of. . . there. Agent Smith is reincarnated as a rich, pompous CEO of the video game company Neo works for and doesn’t have any goal or any type of motivation for why he wants to take Neo down. 

What They Did Right: 

Aside from the movie’s many, MANY shortcomings, after watching it a second time, this time looking for things they did good, surprisingly, I was actually able to pick a few needles from this otherwise ginormous hay stack. In terms of costume design and overall style, the outfits were spot on. This movie brought back one of the main things that made the Matrix so great, which is stunning all black trench coats, flashy sunglasses, and slicked back hair; only this time, they added a touch of color: blue. One of the characters in the movie, Bugs, is a “believer” in the One and a commander of a resistance group who never stopped believing Neo and Trinity were still alive. What makes her character so special is that her character is designed with deep blue hair, which adds a splash of color to the mix that makes the all-black aesthetic pop.  

While “The Matrix Resurrections” was an absolute miss for me and I could say a million more things about it, I will admit that it was nice seeing Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss’s chemistry on the big screen again, and while I would hate to see another Matrix movie flop this hard, I still respect both of them as actors and as people.