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4K Ultra HD Review: The Matrix Resurrections

March 10, 2022

By John Corrado

★★½ (out of 4)

The Matrix Resurrections is the fourth film in the franchise that began over twenty years ago when filmmakers Lana and Lily Wachowski unleashed their groundbreaking 1999 film The Matrix upon the world, setting the bar very high for future blockbusters with its mix of heady philosophy, martial arts action and sci-fi mythology.

They turned it into a trilogy with the back-to-back releases of The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions in 2003, which were met with a more mixed response than their universally acclaimed predecessor. But, despite their bloated runtimes and convoluted world-building, the two sequels still featured some striking action sequences and brought the overarching story to a natural conclusion.

Now, nearly two decades later, Lana Wachowski returns to the same playground with this pretty good fourth entry into the series, which also serves as her first solo film as director. Working as both legacy sequel and soft reboot, Resurrections is a prime example of a franchise extension that largely exists as fan service (the opening sequence mirrors the beginning of the first one), but still manages to bring some interesting new ideas to the table in terms of how it continues an already pretty sealed off story, while also being pretty entertaining, to boot.

This is not to say that Resurrections is an entirely needed or entirely successful film, or that every creative choice works equally well. But it’s one that still has enough merits to mildly recommend it, especially due to Lana’s somewhat unique approach to revisiting the material so many years later. For nearly the first hour, The Matrix Resurrections actually serves as a meta deconstruction of the first film, and how fans and studio heads have demanded another sequel over the years.

When we are first re-introduced to Thomas Anderson aka Neo (Keanu Reeves) here, he is an award-winning game developer living in a world that seems to be the real one, with his most popular creation being a trilogy of video games called The Matrix that were indistinguishable from reality. His business partner Smith (Jonathan Groff) informs him that the studio wants a fourth one, but Neo doesn’t want to go back to the well.

This portion of the film feels like Lana Wachowski trolling Warner Bros. (even calling the studio out by name at one point), for pressuring her to do a fourth Matrix film over the years. The screenplay, which was written by Lana Wachowski alongside authors David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon, offers some clever if slightly on the nose commentary on nostalgia culture, and how the same beloved properties keep getting recycled again and again. The film explores how there is a certain comfort in this, with audiences not wanting to be presented with new stories or ideas, and only wanting various rehashings and retellings of familiar ones instead.

Neo is working with a therapist (Neil Patrick Harris) who convinces him that he is mentally ill for questioning his reality, and that the game he created is merely memory mixed with fiction as a coping mechanism. But he starts to get pulled back by a younger Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and a young hacker named Bugs (Jessica Henwick) – as in Bunny, as in the White Rabbit – who has found evidence that his world is a computer simulation. At its heart, the film is is a love story about Neo trying to find a way to be with Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) again, who in his reality is living as a woman named Tiffany who has a husband and kids.

At this point, Resurrections goes deep into the weeds of Matrix mythology, and is plagued by some of the same problems as Reloaded and Revolutions, namely in that it feels a bit too long (it’s actually the longest in the series at 148 minutes) and the lore can get somewhat hard to keep up with. The recasting of Morpheus and Agent Smith also takes some getting used to. The film does sort of try to explain why Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving don’t reprise their roles, but it’s still somewhat jarring to see other actors take over these characters.

While never quite reaching the heights of the first three movies (the highway chase in Reloaded still astounds), Resurrections does offer a handful of solid action sequences, including some of the stunts and wire-work that made the series famous. We also get some striking visuals courtesy of veteran cinematographer John Toll, amplified by Lana Wachowski’s choice to work more with natural light, giving the film a distinctly different look than the first three. The image is quite dark at times, but looks particularly stunning in 4K, with its rich greens and blacks popping off the screen.

The tone of Resurrections is decidedly more tongue-in-cheek than its predecessors, and the script is sometimes too self-referential in terms of callbacks and revisiting certain plot points, with the film relying on clips from the first three films. Ultimately, The Matrix Resurrections is a movie that is constantly grappling with its own need to exist, but the way it goes about this is also one of the things that makes it sort of interesting. Flawed, yes, but interesting.

Flawed but interesting seems to be a perfect way to describe many of the projects made under the Wachowski name, and it is certainly true of this one as well. This fourth Matrix is ambitious to a fault, at times biting off more than it can chew, and it is unable to reach the heights of the first one. But it’s still a pretty entertaining film that presents a few intriguing ideas and enough decent set-pieces to make it mostly worthwhile as a fourth instalment in a series that didn’t necessarily need one to begin with.

Bonus Features (4K Ultra HD):

The 4K Ultra HD disc offers an excellent visual presentation, and the set comes with a regular Blu-ray as well that houses a good selection of bonus features. A code for a digital copy is also included in the package, which ships with a standard slipcover.

No One Can Be Told What The Matrix Is (8 minutes, 52 seconds): New and old cast members take us through a spoiler-filled overview of the first three movies and the themes of the series. It’s a bit cringey at times, to be honest.

Resurrecting The Matrix (30 minutes, 44 seconds): A surprisingly thorough overview of the production of Resurrections, and how Lana Wachowski started working on the script following the death of her parents and after coming out as transgender. Also serves as a fascinating look at her filmmaking process, and how she learned to embrace working with the sun and using natural light, instead of just artificial lighting and green screens.

Neo x Trinity: Return to the Matrix (8 minutes, 16 seconds): Reeves and Moss reminisce about working together, and reprising their roles so many years later.

Allies + Adversaries: The Matrix Remixed (8 minutes, 27 seconds): Jessica Henwick, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Neil Patrick Harris, Jonathan Groff and Priyanka Chopra Jonas discuss their characters and what it was like to be cast in the film.

Matrix for Life (6 minutes, 19 seconds): Members of the production team discuss returning to work on the film 23 years after the original.

I Still Know Kung Fu (4 minutes, 56 seconds): A look at the practical stunt work in the film, with the actors doing many of their own stunts.

The Matrix Reactions (Play All – 48 minutes, 38 seconds): A selection of featurettes focusing on key sequences in the film. The last two focusing on the stunt work behind two big set-pieces are the most interesting.

Echo Opening (5 minutes, 34 seconds):

Deus Ex Machine (4 minutes, 45 seconds):

Welcome to IØ (5 minutes, 17 seconds):

Morpheus vs Neo (4 minutes, 0 seconds):

Exiles Fight (5 minutes, 20 seconds):

Neo vs Smith (4 minutes, 11 seconds):

Bullet Time Redux (4 minutes, 34 seconds):

The San Fran Chase (7 minutes, 32 seconds):

The San Fran Jump (7 minutes, 56 seconds):

The Matrix Resurrections is a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release. It’s 148 minutes and rated PG.

Street Date: March 8th, 2022

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