ST. LOUIS — 22 years ago, "The Matrix" changed cinema forever.
Whether it was the mind-bending technology in the action sequences or a heady story about living in an artificial society, the Wachowski siblings changed things. It's too bad that a couple decades later, "The Matrix Resurrections" had to tarnish more of that original film's thrilling legacy with a screenplay so hokey and out of sync that headaches form upon recollection.
***MILD SPOILERS TO FOLLOW, PLEASE CHOOSE RED OR BLUE PILL NOW***
So, they really brought everyone back for this? When he's not looking like a confused under-dressed John Wick stumbling onto a Warner Brothers lot, Keanu Reeves does whatever he can to make the story credible. His Neo is suddenly alive (what?!) and back in the... wait for it... MATRIX! Yeah, and the reasons for him being alive begin at complex and only get more confusing from there.
Directed by Lana Wachowski, "The Matrix Resurrections" unwisely tries to combine the wild-eyed glow of the original film with the hysteria surrounding the follow-up sequels, "Reloaded" and "Revolutions." Instead of delivering the electrifying action and thrills that first pulled fans in, Wachowski and co-writers (David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon) mix in irreverent comedy setups and self-aware moments that only come off as laughable.
A particular bathroom scene between Reeves and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (overcooking a young Morpheus portrayal) comes off as a painfully awkward acting workshop than a scene from an expensive tentpole movie.
The whole point, at least that's what the trailers wanted us to know, is that Neo is still trying to resurrect not the Matrix itself, but his long lost girlfriend, Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss). His love for her and what they had tries to power the script and general story line here, but it gets lost in so many insufferable subplots and endless array of new characters. Even more insane, most of the new cast is essentially playing versions of older "Matrix" characters, and not that well.
If you were dying to see Neil Patrick Harris and Jonathan Groff chew scenery for two-plus hours trying to reincarnate Agent Smith, this is your ticket. To me, that's not a good time. Jessica Henwick is completely shortchanged as the "new Trinity."
All of it morphs into a movie that doesn't have a clue of what it's doing or going. The aimless and extra contraptions of the screenplay only lock the actors into this game of "who can look more confused the next scene," which gets tiring by the midway point of this overlong film (another 2.5 hour flick).
Instead of telling a new story and not leaning heavily on the first three movies, "The Matrix Resurrections" comes off as some off-tempo dark comedic game of charades. At one point, the 1999 film plays in the background of this movie--if only they would have just rereleased that one instead.
Why bring something back 18 years after it concluded--and relaunch it in such an oddball manner? One that cuts off most of its threads from the magic that made Reeves a household name and changed the way action films were made. The worst thing about this one is that the action is late 90's stale, looking more like a relic than anything that is supposed to drum up excitement.
Here's the thing. "The Matrix" was great enough. The world I imagine isn't full of codes and numbers, but one where they stopped after the first movie. The following three films have only muddied up the waters, taking a good chunk of what made it a one-of-a-kind experience away in the process.
My advice: Take the blue pill and go back to sleep.