Rehashing an introduction is one way of winning over a new generation of fans while also appealing to the older ones who remember the release of the original. Balancing that line is a monumentally difficult challenge, one that director Lana Wachowski is more than capable of. Where The Matrix was a stunning feature that was soon subsumed by the larger remit of the science-fiction genre and cultural imbalances of the time, The Matrix Resurrections looks to bring a new and stylish flair to an old universe of counter-culture brilliance. “What makes Matrix different?” one games designer asks. Who knows, but what sets The Matrix Resurrections apart is its embrace of modern tricks and tropes, while also maintaining a credible understanding of the impact the original trilogy had on an ever-changing culture.
A real treat for those that loved the trilogy as a whole, The Matrix Resurrections is just that, a treat. As action-packed as the originals and as distinctly memorable in its storytelling abilities. It is the resurrection of old claims, fascinating sci-fi tones and recapturing of a storyline loosely tied a decade ago. “Why use old code when you can use something new?” one of these recast team members mentions. He isn’t wrong. New iterations of old characters are presented throughout, and while the omissions of Laurence Fishburne or Hugo Weaving may be controversial, they do make a unifying level of sense. Jonathan Groff, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Priyanka Chopra are up to the task of filling in the gaps left by those aforementioned omissions. Brushing shoulders with Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and the returning cast is a graceful period of exciting deviations from the old story.
Choppier moments are bound to happen, but they’re dealt with lightly and easily. The Matrix Resurrections, despite being a serious revival of a grand universe, is easy to lose yourself in. It is the antithesis to serious cinema. Fun, gut-busting entertainment with some artistic clarity too. Gifted cinematography from Wachowski’s work and the revival of a bright and flourishing universe is a thankful break away from the norms of the blockbuster feature. Farewell to the depressed lighting and dull tones, and hello to slight variations of colour and light being used as a modern sheen and design. Groff and Reeves have some superb scenes together in the first act. Groff’s step up to the big leagues is an excellent opportunity, firing through the hard-fought battles of Mindhunter, this is hopefully the payoff his sincere talent deserves. It’s a strong role alongside Reeves’ show-stopping work, which sees him slide into the role of Neo as comfortably as expected.
Groff’s dialogue may be a bit on the nose, but most of The Matrix Resurrections is. Invariably tongue-in-cheek and thoroughly enjoyable at that, there is still room for Neo and company to have those deep and meaningful discussions that were found in The Matrix. It leaves some questions unanswered, but the mystery behind it all makes it all the more intriguing. Answers are not gifted to audiences, and it is exciting to see Wachowski is still willing to approach the series with a desire to create something exciting, something fascinating. Reeves and Moss are excellent as ever, and without missing a beat, they find themselves in a comfortably entertaining feature that has enough drama and tact with its delivery to create a faithful successor on par with the original.