By Daniel Mendes, TheCinebuff.com
During the penultimate battle between Neo and Agent Smith in The Matrix Revolutions, Smith, thinking he has the upper hand, proudly asserts his misplaced dominance over Neo. “The purpose of all life is to end.” Neo, in an act of defiance, rises back up with his iconic “bring it on” hand gesture as Don Davis’ score triumphantly plays in the background. They resume their battle and what follows is a gorgeous wide shot of their silhouettes against a backdrop of a large building window as they trade blows. This one-shot alone is more unique than anything in The Matrix: Resurrections.
Set twenty years after the original, it’s revealed that the events of The Matrix were a video game created by Thomas Anderson, played once again by Keanu Reeves. Mr. Anderson, unable to decipher truth from reality, regularly visits a therapist played by Neil Patrick Harris who prescribes him blue pills to keep his visions at bay. Anderson’s business partner and boss Smith, played by Jonathan Groff, informs Anderson that Warner Brothers has assigned them to create a Matrix 4, and that they would carry through with its production regardless of Anderson’s involvement. The first third of Resurrections is undoubtedly its strongest and effectively plays with the metatextual narrative of sequels, legacy, and nostalgia. The other two-thirds, however, squander whatever promise the film might have had.
Once again, Neo is awakened from the simulated reality of the Matrix, only this time, he’s retained all of his powers and “still knows Kung Fu.” One of the biggest issues is Resurrections’ lack of stakes. We are once again given a sparring sequence between Neo and a rebooted Morpheus played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II akin to the first Matrix film; the final product, however, lacks the energy of its predecessor. The sparring sequence in The Matrix had an experienced Morpheus teaching a younger, inexperienced Neo to hone his newfound skill while also establishing the rules of the Matrix. When you add in the fluid camerawork, it helps the action move smoothly without confusing the audience. The sparring sequence in Resurrections is a half-baked retread with no character development or stakes because Neo has already gone through this. . It also doesn’t help that the camerawork of Resurrections is too frantic and lacks flow and rhythm.
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