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The Matrix Resurrections Reviews: Some Critics Take The Red Pill, Others The Blue

When "The Matrix" hit theaters in 1999, audiences were floored. The innovative science fiction film turned out to be unlike anything theater-goers had ever seen, bringing audiences into a uniquely dystopian world reflecting the mysteries of the upcoming 21st century's technological advancements. With its elements of body horror and martial arts, too, "The Matrix" truly was a groundbreaking film in many ways.

Created by genius sister duo Lily and Lana Wachowski, "The Matrix" quickly spawned two popular sequels, "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Matrix Revolutions," both released in 2003. Now, after nearly two decades, Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss) are back in "The Matrix Resurrections."

The long-awaited fourth "Matrix" film is one of the buzziest releases of the lucrative holiday film season. Critics have finally had their chance to see the film, and one thing is for certain — "The Matrix Resurrections" is just as awe-inspiring as its predecessors, but that's not exactly the unqualified success it sounds like.

The chemistry between Reeves and Moss is a highlight for many

Though often considered an action franchise, it's the romance present in "The Matrix Resurrections" that really makes the film worthwhile. 

Keith Uhlich of Slant praises the film's emotional beats, remarking, "Love is the crux of the film's story, whose emotional undercurrents are so intoxicating that it more than makes up for the relative inelegance of the action scenes." He elaborates on the chemistry between Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Ann Moss, which is just as electric as it is in the previous films, saying, "Their faces weathered, the hair at their temples sexily gone gray, their rapport so endearingly natural that there's never a moment where you doubt their starry-eyed fondness for each other." 

Clarisse Loughrey of The Independent agrees, remarking, "Reeves and Moss's chemistry is as scorching-hot as it has always been – when they talk, the actors perfectly modulate their slightly too long-held glances and micro-smiles, so that these supposed strangers still act as if they've known each other since the dawn of time."

Digital Spy's Ian Sandwell further commends the romantic beats of the film, saying, "It's an unashamedly romantic movie as [Neo and Trinity's] connection provides the key to the majority of the plot. 

Compared to the relatively sexless blockbusters we're used to, it's refreshing to see their romance front and centre." Mae Abdulbaki at Screen Rant summarizes it nicely, calling the movie "one of the best sci-fi romances in quite some time." 

Is Resurrections just another cash-grabbing sequel?

Yet despite the timeless chemistry between its two leads, the film feels like an unnecessary fourth chapter to some critics. 

The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw calls the movie "a heavy-footed reboot which doesn't offer a compelling reason for its existence other than to gouge a fourth income stream from Matrix fans." The film seems aware of this though, providing some very meta framework. 

As Brian Truitt at USA Today explains, Keanu Reeves' Thomas Anderson "is the award-winning creator of the popular 'Matrix' video games but also a very troubled dude living in San Francisco. He's not pleased he's assigned to do another 'Matrix' game, but more importantly, he doesn't remember his past as Neo."  

However, this self-awareness doesn't make up for the film's unoriginality, with Bradshaw remarking, "Where the original film was explosively innovatory, this is just another piece of IP, an algorithm of unoriginality" (via the Guardian).

Over at The Irish Times, Donald Clarke has some especially cutting words for the four-quel's retreading of old material. "The clothes and sunglasses alone are hilariously out of the mode. What was once the coolest of images has now become the preserve of teenage superhero obsessives from rust-belt suburbs," Clarke says, elaborating "So much of the new film looks like the work of uncharacteristically well-heeled attendees at San Diego Comic-Con."

Resurrections' action scenes pale in comparison to its predecessors

"Resurrections" brings the romance and the meta commentary, but many love "The Matrix" series for its jaw-dropping action scenes. Does this fourth installment deliver? Depends on who you ask.

Katie Rife of AV Club calls the action in the film "disappointing," elaborating, "The Hong Kong-influenced long shots that made 'The Matrix' so revolutionary are all but absent, replaced by rapid cuts that render the fight choreography less legible than in previous installments" (via AV Club). 

CNN's Brian Lowry mirrors these sentiments, writing, "While there are a few visually striking moments, those sequences are offset by puzzling ones, like a massive close-quarters fight that makes it difficult to discern who's doing what to whom, blunting any excitement." 

However, others are pleased with the action scenes present in the film. At IndieWire, David Ehrlich remarks how well the action serves the story, saying, "A climactic motorcycle chase through downtown San Francisco is riveting (and eerie) because of how literally it illustrates the dangerous hold that fiction can have over waking life." 

Ehrlich also effectively summarizes what has made "The Matrix" series so popular. "It's a movie," he writes, "that knows people will always yearn for what they can't have as they dread to lose what they already do, and fall prey to certain fictions regardless of how many times someone tells them to seize control of their minds."

Fans of the "The Matrix," will certainly have plenty to ruminate over when "Resurrections" hits theaters and HBO Max on December 22.