Look, I’m here for the action. As much as the Matrix series is an enjoyable alchemy of classic mythology, cyberpunk, and pop philosophy, anyone who says the action isn’t far and away its biggest strength is kidding themselves. The increasingly convoluted technological underpinnings, the endless rumination on the paradox of free will, the paper-thin character work—it’s all set dressing for some extraordinary fight and chase sequences, bolstered by visionary special effects. Or at least it was for a little while. I guess I’m glad The Matrix Resurrections goes in another direction after the grunting, all-the-shooting-at-all-the-robots wartime extravaganza of its immediate predecessor, but Resurrections’ meta-commentary on the series’ legacy and the modern corporate entertainment landscape doesn’t have much to add to the conversation, and it’s especially noticeable when the action it’s hung on is so airless. All the lessons the first two films took from Hong Kong are forgotten: Nearly every punch, kick, crash, explosion, and hail of bullets is rendered virtually incoherent in a flurry of closeups and quick cuts.
The industry badly needs an R-rated Marvel counterpoint, and in the absence of something actually new, I had hoped Resurrections might be a decent placeholder, but as with so many of these nostalgia-driven reboots, its self-awareness doesn’t make it any less superfluous.