Matrix 4 - A Review
Written by Darya Silman
The controversy around the fourth Matrix: Resurrections turns watching the film into a necessity. Otherwise, how can one decide what side to choose?
Dir.: Lana Wachowski
Prod.: James McTeigue, Lana Wachowski, Grant Hill
Written by: Lana Wachowski, David Mitchell, Aleksandar Hemon
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Running time: 148 minutes
After the movie's release on December 16, 2021, and a stream of negative reviews, one may wonder should he/she spend money - and waste time - watching the fourth installment of the Matrix trilogy. Or was it the sequel to the first film of 1999? Or was it the parody of the first film? Or was the total reboot hoping the fans would forget the not-so-successful Matrix Reload and Matrix Revolutions?
Despite the rumors that started to circulate not long after the ending of the third Matrix, Wachowskis felt there was nothing to add to the story of Neo. The chemistry between Neo and Trinity never fell to the level of sentimental melodrama, with she-destined-to-be-with-him and he-destined-to-be-with her. Their relationship was built on fighting back to back to prolong the existence of the human race and, in the long run, win the destructive war against the machines. Thus, the death of both characters in a fight was a logical conclusion to the trilogy. After all, they saved Zion!
What happened then to the determination to leave Matrix at peace? Alas, desire for a big hit, coupled with the hopes that the old Matrix fan base will be glad to spend money on the new sequel. To make sure the new Matrix appeals to the audience, the sequel is full of flashbacks, mainly from the first 1999 movie, with iconic scenes such as a blue pill/red pill choice. The new Matrix is full of meta-references to itself and its creators. Thomas Anderson, a burnout, delusional (presumably) programmer, works in the game industry, and 20 years ago, he created the game named Matrix. The big umbrella organization that funds the project is - drum roll, please! - Warner Bros. A dialogue between Thomas Anderson and his boss at the movie's beginning clearly explains the Matrix project update: people want something new. And Warner Bros. will do the Matrix 4, regardless of whether Thomas (aka real-life actors) will participate or not.
This dialogue naturally leads to the question of casting. The cast of the new Matrix consists of everyone's favorites, Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, plus newbies like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Morpheus) and Jonathan Groff (Agent Smith). While Hugo Weaving, who played the role of Agent Smith, couldn't make it due to the tight schedule, the absence of Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus is puzzling. He appears multiple times in the flashbacks and as a statue in the new human settlement - but not 'in the flesh.' The new Morpheus, a program created by Thomas Anderson, not a human being, appears as a fashionista with exaggerated manners and sparkly suits. The whole crew, which helps Thomas on his way to becoming Neo again, bends to the gothic style, with leather jackets and stylish colorful haircuts.
Undoubtedly, neither Keanu Reeves nor Carrie-Anne Moss haven't lost their acting skills during the last 20 years. Even the chemistry between the characters hasn't changed a bit. I can say nothing negative about the new actors, too. The problem is that the plot is constructed exclusively on the fame and nostalgia of the first Matrix. Indeed, the fourth installment introduces new twists and develops the initial plotline - but the scenario lacks depth. The trilogy, especially the first Matrix, created a sci-fi world that could be easily inserted into our world; a viewer will find something fresh, unique with every new revisiting. It's the virgin land for thoughts and creativity, so it's not a coincidence the movies became classics. Unfortunately, the fourth Matrix is a one-day hit with nothing beyond the surface. The hollowness of the plot, it seems, constrains the actors and prevents them from showing their brilliance. This feature is especially overt in Sati, played by Priyanka Chopra Jones. Sati is a secondary character that doesn't show any signs of personal development or adds anything significant to the plot. Any other actress with decent acting credentials could have played the role, and it would change nothing in the character's representation.
Overall, the fourth Matrix projects the vibe of the initial Matrix trilogy, though distorted by the modern cinematographic requirements and unassuming audience. If you want to enjoy Keanu Reeves's acting, this is an excellent chance to do it. Matrix: Resurrections is still a break-neck sci-fi movie, with unpredictable plot turns, that doesn't let go till the last scene (and the music during the final titles is so Matrix-esque!).