The Matrix Resurrections ⭐⭐ Review by Andrea Carnevali
Return to a world of two realities: one, everyday life; the other, what lies behind it. To find out if his reality is a construct, to truly know himself, Mr. Anderson will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more. Showing at Chiswick Cinema.
First of all I should say right ahead that I regard the original Matrix as one of those rare game-changers in sci-fi and in cinema history: a genre defying film which only comes once in a decade (or even two decades!). A smart and beautifully crafted film which combined spectacular visuals, cracking action and ground-breaking special effects, and left and endurable mark on cinema and pop culture to this day.
And because, like everybody else, I was obviously let down by the frankly inferior sequels from the noughties, the news of a new film, filled me with a sense of trepidation but also with hope that it would do justice to the legacy left by the original.
Matrix: Resurrection is naturally very aware of what came before and spends most of the first half retreading moments from the first film, copying them (though I guess, they would prefer if I said “paying homage to them”) desperately trying to re-evoke that atmosphere that made the original so special.
This is of course just the latest (and surely not the last) of a series of recently released films that seem to be fuelled by that sense of nostalgia for the source. Just in the last few weeks we’ve had Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Spider-Man: No way Home.
Director Lana Wachowski (this time directing solo, without the sibling Lilly) knows too well why we are here and what we are craving for. She’s aware of our feelings towards the previous sequels too and she even tries to admit their inferiority by having people actually saying it in the film. “They took something that was so dear to people and turned it in something trivial” somebody utters at some point.
After all ,“Nothing comforts anxiety like a little nostalgia” (another line from the film, yes, it is that meta!), so who cares if all this feels a bit redundant?
Unfortunately while the latest Spider-Man showed the whole world how you can take that nostalgia and love for what came before and ride with it, without taking yourself too seriously and produce one of the most entertaining popcorn-films of the last few years, this Matrix reboot (or re-hash…or sequel… or whatever you want to call it), doesn’t quite know what to do with that legacy, other than constantly quoting itself, making sure we know it’s doing it in a very self-aware way, just to avoid criticism.
But this over-referencing and meta nature of the film is obviously a double-edged sword, which only served to remind me how fresh, mysterious and original the first film was.
And so, Lana Wachowski gets lost in endless scenes where people are literally sitting in front of each other trying to explain the film to us in a series on semi-unintelligible Mumbo-Jumbo dialogue. And yet, despite all those efforts, I have to confess I still don’t quite understand what happens in the film or how was it possible that Neo (Keanu Reeves) was still alive and why some people are played by other actors (other than the fact that some of the actors just did not want to return: something even more disappointing coming after the huge reunion from the latest Spider-Man, once again).
All that convoluted, unintelligible, and frankly rather uninteresting exposition, drenched in clichés and pompous lines, delivered with an air of self-importance (and a little bit of “echo” to make sure it could resonate even more), wouldn’t be the worst thing in the film if at least the action made up for it. But that’s where I found the film even more disappointing.
The lack any original ideas was staggering. Aside from the constantly recycled imagery and concepts from the previous films (blue/red pill, fluid mirrors, bull-time shots, lots of shooting), the film does really nothing new.
As for the action itself, I was astonished by how pedestrian it felt, in its choreography, its staging and its film-making techniques: the messy and frenetic editing, some shaky camerawork and dark lighting tried to hide some of that, but not very successfully and so the result was apparent. This was just not as innovative or interesting and crucially not as exciting it should have been to justify its existence.
On a positive note I have to say that I had really missed Carrie-Anne Moss and she can still hold her presence, though Keanu (who I usually like) seemed to sleepwalk through it…
In the end The Matrix Resurrections, while it doesn’t ruin the memory of the original, it came across to me just as a desperate attempt to revive something that should have been left alone.
No more please.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.
The Matrix: Resurrection is on in cinemas now, including Chiswick Ciname.
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