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Energy of cast helps film rise above hollow parts

It is difficult to put into words the effect that 1999’s “The Matrix” has had on popular film since its initial release. Bringing new technologies and filmmaking techniques to audiences, “The Matrix” has remained relevant for not only its technological achievements, but also its central themes and queries revolving around the topics of the ethics of a technologically motivated society, independent thought, free will and the choice between truth and fantasy (a choice which is laid out in the film’s now iconic “red or blue pill” scene. Looking back at how revolutionary and extraordinary the original Matrix film was, it makes one wonder if the newest addition to the franchise was a necessary endeavor.

“The Matrix Resurrections” is not a bad film per se, but it isn’t necessarily a great one. Taking central characters Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie Anne-Moss) to new and unexpected places, part of the fun of the latest Matrix storyline is the way in which it subverts the expectations of it’s audiences and the surprises that it has in store along the way. Some of which prove to be fresh and interesting takes on the lore of the universe the film takes place within, others falling flat and feeling hollow in their presentation.

In typical Matrix fashion, “Resurrections” takes on heady ideas and topics, albeit with less aplomb than earlier franchise installments. In a particularly interesting move, “Resurrections” is noticeably more meta and humorous than previous franchise installments (Neo regularly visits an inner city cafe called “Simmulatte”). These in jokes and self referential segments, like many other features of the film, turn out to be a mixed bag. The ending of the latest installment also proves to feel somewhat lacking, with the conclusion feeling more like a prelude to a continuation rather than a fitting send off.

That being said, it cannot be denied that “Resurrections” is, at times, a fun and exciting ride. The special effects in the film are impressively constructed, the action sequences (while not anywhere near the heights of the previous three entries) do often pack a punch and the new additions to the cast more than earn their stripes in the outing. Of particular note are Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Chenwick and Neil Patrick Harris, all of which bring both an energy and vibrance to their characters. Abdul-Mateen II in particular is able to bring some much needed levity to many of the film’s loftier moments without taking the focus away from the moments themselves.

The Matrix Resurrections may not have the brains or the brawn of the original, but with a killer cast, impressive visual effects and a surprising, unexpected story, “Resurrections” makes for a fun trip to the movies (or HBO Max).

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