The 4th installment of the Matrix franchise is titled The Matrix Resurrections and it is directed by Lana Wachowski. It is surprising and slightly interesting that Lana’s sister Lilly, who she has worked with on every film in her career, decided not to be a part of this film in any capacity. Lilly has said that she did not want to go backwards in her career while Lana said her main inspiration for making this film was that she was at a crossroads in her life. She had just lost both her parents and making a Matrix film in which Neo and Trinity are brought back to life gave her comfort. This is not the most promising inspiration for a movie idea but I’ll get into that later. The cast for this film includes Keanu Reaves, Carrie Ann Moss, Jessica Henwick, Yahya Abdul Mateen II, Jonathan Groff, and Neil Patrick Harris. Mateen II is recast as Morpheus and Groff as agent smith. A daunting task for both actors considering Lawrence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving were by far the two best performances in the original Matrix.

I’ll try my best to explain the plot of the first act but forgive me if I keep this short as it’s quite a lot and can get bogged down in details. Within the Matrix, Thomas Anderson is a renowned video game developer who has created a series of games based on his memories and dreams of Neo in the Matrix. He keeps encountering Moss’s character Tiffany, who reminds him of Trinity but appears to just be an average mother of two who frequents a local coffee shop. Anderson struggles to separate dreams from reality and cannot tell what is real anymore. Through the Matrix he encounters Bugs (Henwick) and her crew, who somehow have finally found the Thomas Anderson they have been looking for. When encountered with all the information about the Matrix Thomas is resistant and doesn’t believe, he reacts similarly to how he did in the original when confronted with this damning information about his reality. He eventually comes around and agrees to be extracted. He then starts on a journey of reuniting with Trinity and attempting to extract her from the Matrix.

The direction in this film is off the mark to say the least and at some points frankly amateur, I kept wondering if this was the first feature film Lana has ever directed and it appears that’s the case. There is no way to tell that the same person that directed the original matrix directed this. The dialogue is George Lucas’ prequel level bad. The overuse of CGI to the point where it looks like you’re watching a cartoon and the poorly constructed use of montage and flashbacks, slow motion and bad framing does not help either. I really do feel for the editor that tried to make those montages make any sense at all. There’s even scenes where characters’ lips aren’t even synced to the external audio that was obviously used. There are scenes where the action is not properly framed and preposterous use of camera angles as well as shaky cam are included that makes you think this is all just a bad joke.

One of the hallmarks of the original is that the humor that was injected landed and added a great deal to the experience. It’s the exact opposite in this, most of the jokes do not land and at times they feel very forced. The pacing struggles tremendously in the beginning of the third act and the audience gets about 15 minutes of exposition to make sense of this convoluted mess. A minor spoiler but I feel like there needs to be somewhat of an example of why the film is so poorly directed. There is a scene where Anderson is contacted by someone that we the audience know is Morpheus, for some reason Lana decides to have this revealed through a text message and not a phone call which has to be the most anticlimactic character reveal I have seen in a long time. A perfect opportunity for fan service and a highly anticipated character reveal absolutely squandered.

This film also desperately misses Don Davis’s score as most of the time it feels like you’re listening to some cheap rip off band that tries to copy someone else but puts their own little flair on it. The main problem with this film is the combination of the cast and the characters that were written by Lana. Either none of these actors embody the characters she was going for or the characters she wrote and her vision of what they should be was entirely off base. There is not a single good performance in this film. Mateen II and Henwick seemed to do the best they could under the circumstances and the film would have better served with both getting more screen time. The recasting of agent smith is hard to watch and Groff can’t hold a candle next to Hugo Weaving’s version. One has to be told that Groff is agent smith as the character in this film has no semblance whatsoever to the original.

The Matrix Resurrections was aiming to be comfort food for Matrix fans who hated the preceding sequels after the original. It even positioned itself as somewhat of a retcon to matrix 3. We didn’t get comfort food, instead we got rotten cafeteria sludge that reminds us all that we don’t need these films that exist solely to all just milk us like a cow and take our money. Do yourself a favor and skip this, rewatch the original instead and pretend that’s the only Matrix film that was ever made.