What Is Reality?

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By Paul Hall

In 1999, The Matrix revolutionized film as we know it. Its amazing bullet time sequences treated viewers to unique experiences that have since appeared in a number of action films. Four years later, two back-to-back sequels took us back to the characters who we loved from the original film. Now, 18 years after Reloaded and Revolutions, the franchise has been given a new life in The Matrix Resurrections.

Thomas Anderson (Keanu Reeves) is working through his game design of Binary, his follow up to The Matrix Trilogy. With the new game on the horizon, Thomas is having an increasingly difficult time deciphering what is real and what does not really exist. As things around him morph before his eyes, he heads to the one person he has consulted about everything, his analyst (Neil Patrick Harris).

As the analyst tries to help make sense of everything in Thomas’s life, his tensions begin to ease. But despite a new prescription, everyone around him still seems to be messing with his head. New characters appear to guide Thomas — or is it Neo? — back into the matrix where he will need to fight for his life.

One thing remains, whether reality or the matrix: Thomas has not forgotten his true love, Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss). But Trinity is now Tiffany in the world in which they both exist in, so who is real? Tiffany is married with kids and a husband who treats her poorly. Thomas has never let her go in his mind, no matter where that relationship takes place, but is Tiffany ready to take the red pill again and return to life as Trinity?

The Matrix is a film that really messed with viewers’ minds. Red pills or blue pills, everyone jumped onboard for the journey. Impressive effects combined with a story bursting with layers taking countless hours to digest. As this fourth film in the franchise dawns, Resurrections attempts to recapture the magic, the mystique and that amazing ride we collectively experienced. But, unfortunately, Resurrections glitches and can’t recapture the special nature of the original film.

It’s great to see Reeves back as both Neo and Mr. Anderson. He embodies both characters and is the person who makes the film work. His calm, yet tense and conflicted characters are able to grab viewers and make us ultimately interested in how Neo’s story resolves itself. Seeing Moss back as the object of every desire makes it all better for all of us. She is able to be both mom and total badass and decidedly creates a character who, whether Tiffany or Trinity, is in charge of any situation.

Reeves and Moss are actors who bring to life the comfort food we are all looking to enjoy, but a film is not solely about the actors. The script was trying too hard to be clever and cute and felt like the story confused itself. What is real, what is the matrix? Red pill, blue pill or no pill? Oh the questions I have.

Can many of the questions get answered from repeat viewings with a new perspective? Possibly, but as a stand-alone experience, The Matrix Resurrections falls a bit flat. The magic felt missing although the mystery remains firmly in place. There is much to like with this effort; unfortunately, there are also a number of pieces of the film that feel entrenched in a matrix of their own and their reality is foggy at best.

Paul’s Grade: C+

The Matrix Resurrections
Rated R
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris
Director: Lana Wachowski