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“Matrix Resurrections”: It’s Time to Disconnect From This Franchise | Lifestyles

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(TNS) – There is more than one problem in The Matrix. The whole server is down.

“The Matrix Resurrections,” the fourth chapter in the twisting sci-fi action series and the first in 18 long years, is a major dysfunction, a confusing, confusing, and painful meta-commentary on “The Matrix” wrapped in a visually slow and directionless misfires. Say what you want about the “Matrix” movies – our collective memory has virtually wiped the second and third chapters of the series from our mainframe, and rightly so – but their acting has never been so flat.

Writer-director Lana Wachowski, working for the first time without her sister Lilly Wachowski, spends half of the film winking at the place of “The Matrix” in pop culture and the other half diving into. a love story, with lots of blabbity-babble that turns heads tying the two parts together.

Along the way, everything one expects from a “Matrix” movie that once made the series a cyberpunk and techno-cool marvel – the glitchy computer graphics, the kung fu fight choreography, the gravity-defying, limit-pushing action sequences, black leather fetish – feel exhausted or incomplete, like someone has picked up the phone line while the dial-up internet is still connecting. Red or blue pill? Take the one that fixes this debacle the fastest.

Immortal Keanu Reeves returns as Neo, but first of all he’s back to being Thomas Anderson, living in a stilted reality where he’s the creator of a hugely popular trilogy of groundbreaking video games called, you guessed it, “The Matrix”. This series of movies, uh, video games shaped our view of reality in the late 90s and early 2000s, and now Warner Bros. (verified by name!) is looking to reboot the series to capitalize on its popularity, with or without its lead designer. Basically, it’s a lot to talk about the influence and radicalism of “The Matrix”, in the realm of a “Matrix” movie. (Think of it like Lana Wachowski’s version of “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare,” the 1994 entry “Nightmare on Elm Street” where reality has turned in on itself.)

This alternate universe allows for exactly one good inner joke: a “Matrix”-inspired coffeehouse franchise named Simulatte, with a flowing black and green character logo. It’s in Simulatte where Thomas sees Tiffany (Carrie-Anne Moss), a mom with a few kids and a husband named Chad, with whom he has a connection that he can’t quite put his finger on. Before I could say, “It’s Trinity, brother!” we’re plunged back into the matrix, the grungy world designed to resemble the cold metal of a gun chamber run by machines that use humans as batteries, and the world as we know it is just one big simulation.

Except that things inside this matrix are not quite the same as they used to be. Morpheus is now played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II of “Candyman”, and it is not really explained why he is no longer in the form of Laurence Fishburne, who can currently be seen in the “MacGruber” series of Peacock. (That’s not to say Fishburne chose one project over another, it’s just to state clear facts about where Fishburne can and can’t be seen.) And Hugo Weaving’s Agent Smith is nowhere to be found, here Smith is played by “Mindhunter’s” Jonathan Groff, and he’s Thomas’ boss in the video game company, causing him to crack the whip to get into this fourth installment.

A smarmy Neil Patrick Harris is on board as Thomas’ therapist, known as Analyst, and Christina Ricci – who starred in Wachowski’s “Speed ​​Racer” – shows up for a scene, then never again.

Bouncing in and out of the Matrix, Wachowski generously sprinkles footage from previous films into the mix like a “Rocky” montage. (The old footage is sometimes supposed to represent video game clips, which doesn’t make sense.)

The driving force behind “Resurrections” is the reunion of Neo and Trinity, and the path to getting there involves at least a really long monologue from Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith), who might explain things if it weren’t so impossible to follow. .

After walking “The Matrix” through three previous installments, audiences now know that they shouldn’t expect clear and concise storylines from a “Matrix” movie. (I’m still not sure I got a firm grip on the first movie, but I’m about 75-80% of it.) The second chapter had that banana chase on the highway – the action here is mostly ho -hum, been-there-made, only recreations of previous stunts. Even when the characters run through walls and come back down to take down an opponent, which often happens here, it’s nothing special, and it’s never shot in a way that makes it a mind-blowing moment. It’s mostly an “oh, ok” moment. (Wow moments never really happen, although the climax is closest.)

It’s no surprise that “The Matrix Resurrections” doesn’t rewrite history or strike people’s minds; the Wachowskis struggled even in 2003 to bring consistency to its follow-ups, and the team’s most recent films – the exaggerated “Cloud Atlas” of 2012 and the abysmal “Jupiter Ascending” of 2015 – have been large-scale disappointments.

“Resurrections,” however, is the first film that finds Wachowski openly looking back, and it reflects a potentially strained relationship with the series and its success. It’s like she’s writing “The Matrix” and she’s making it too easy to join her. “Resurrections” is a brutal return to reality.

“THE MATRICAL RESURRECTIONS”

MPAA Rating: R (for violence and some language)

Where to watch: In cinema and streaming on HBO Max Wednesday