Combustible Celluloid
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With: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Lambert Wilson, Jada Pinkett Smith, Christina Ricci
Written by: Lana Wachowski, David Mitchell, Aleksandar Hemon
Directed by: Lana Wachowski
MPAA Rating: R for violence and some language
Running Time: 148
Date: 12/22/2021

The Matrix Resurrections (2021)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Pill Plopper

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This, the fourth Matrix movie (and the first since 2003's The Matrix Revolutions), kicks off with a great idea, and a reason to continue with the story 18 years later, but unfortunately, the idea peters out and the movie gets stuck in a very old rut.

Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves), now famous for having developed a successful trilogy of games called The Matrix, is working as a video game designer in San Francisco. He sees a therapist (Neil Patrick Harris) and takes medication to control his strange "visions," and keep him grounded in reality. In a cafe, he spots Tiffany (Carrie-Anne Moss), who somehow looks familiar.

Meawhile, a scrappy young freedom fighter, Bugs (Jessica Henwick), infiltrates an experimental computer simulation designed by Anderson, and discovers an alternate version of Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Together, they find the clues they need to track down Neo and set things right. But once awakened and in the "real" world again, Neo longs to find Trinity. So the heroes launch an impossible rescue mission, which could doom all humans.

Directed and co-written by Lana Wachowski (working, for the first time, without her sibling Lilly), The Matrix Resurrections begins with a savage satire on corporate greed and conniving marketers, as the video game company revs up for a new sequel that Anderson does not want to make. (Christina Ricci appears in a hilarious small role as a particularly tacky marketer.) Wachowski keeps up a certain queasy tension during this first part, including a brilliant montage sequence — set to the tune of, of course, "White Rabbit" — demonstrating how mundane and meaningless this existence is.

As with the original The Matrix (1999), there's a great mystery afoot, with weird little clues everywhere. (Whats up with Reeves's reflection in the computer monitor?) And, ironically, the video game focus group asks all of the questions that we are asking: what's real and what's not? What matters and what doesn't?

But at some point near the halfway mark, The Matrix Resurrections reveals everything. The deliciousness is gone, and it's all planning for the big rescue, fights, chases, and explosions. And, without the masterful fight choreography of Yuen Woo-ping, who worked on the first three films, even these look painfully ordinary, and even dull. The movie seems to have forgotten its original satirical intentions, and just swallowed its own blue pill.

Released March 8, 2022, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment's Blu-ray contains a crisp, detailed transfer, with excellent audio. Bonuses include six behind-the-scenes featurettes, ranging in length from 6 to 30 minutes, plus "The Matrix Reactions," consisting of 9 shorter featurettes. They feature some cool on-set footage and interviews with most of the key cast and crew. A bonus digital copy is also included. The 4K includes the same bonuses.

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