ALMOST SPOILER FREE REVIEW:
Matrix Resurrections opened on December 17 (Friday) in Tokyo. I went to the 9:20 am showing, giving up the chance to watch the 4D version, which is dubbed into Japanese. It’s a rare thing to see a US movie first in Japan. And that is the only justification I can find for posting a review here, on this Japan centered-blog.
If you loved The Matrix but the original Matrix trilogy left you feeling vaguely unsatisfied and lacking closure, then Matrix Resurrections is just the cure. It’s not a reboot of the series, but a sequel with loving homage to the original. “The Resurrections” in the title is a big hint.
Neo is not dead but still somehow alive in a new configuration of the Matrix, once again as Thomas A. Anderson. Except this time, he’s a legendary computer game designer, whose claim to fame is having created the sprawling, highly interactive game, The Matrix, which made a generation of humans question their own reality.
Yet, Anderson is plagued by visions of a past that he never had and imagines he is not in the real world but a construct, much like the game he designed. His benevolent psychotherapist tries to keep the suicidal Anderson on the straight and narrow path, with compassion, understanding and a ceaseless prescription of blue pills.
Maybe those blue pills are also jumbo Viagra. Thomas Anderson seems perpetually depressed, like John Wick, after his wife died and a Russian gangster killed his dog. He also has the same shabby facial hair as John Wick, except Anderson is not a ninja assassin. A woman who may have been the model for Trinity in his game frequents the same coffee shop close to his office, but she seems more like a motorcycle riding soccer Mom, or computer geek idea of a MILF, than a world saving heroine.
From the very start of the film, we know that Anderson is not crazy. Anderson/Neo has not been forgotten. In a dark corner of the video game world he designed, someone or something is trying to free him—or so he believes. He’s not incorrect.
Of course, Agent Smith is also not dead, but he’s not the same program he was before.
The gradual reappearance of heroes, heroines, and villains from the previous films is handled with grace, wit and subtle foreshadowing. The Oracle and The Architect are conspicuously absent. Morpheus also returns but not the way you remember him. The movie is well-written with delicious doses of dark humor and wonderfully choreographed action sequences.
One the best action sequences takes place on a Shinkansen in Japan. However, despite being set on a bullet-train there is no slow-motion “bullet-time” action on the train.
BTW, there is only a smattering of the “bullet-time” effects that made the first film so ground-breaking, but for good reasons. It’s two and a half hours of B+ grade sci-fi suspense with an ending that won’t leave you wishing you were dead. It did make me hope they don’t do another sequel.
It’s a fine open-ended conclusion. Let’s leave it at that.
Yes, it’s a love story, as every reviewer will tell you, but specifically about “the power of love” (pun intended). It’s also a story about making hard choices when the path of least resistance seems the most comfortable.
Open your mind, lower your expectations, and you’ll find the trip back to the Matrix a worthwhile journey.