The Matrix Resurrections First Reviews: Packed with Nostalgia but Exciting in New Ways

Critics say the sequel focuses on a few core elements and touches on what made the original so spectacular, even if it could never match the first film's impact.

by | December 21, 2021 | Comments

Whoa! Neo is back in the first Matrix movie in 18 years, and it just might be the best sequel yet. The first reviews of The Matrix Resurrections are mostly favorable, acknowledging that it’s less interested in innovation than emphasizing what truly works in the franchise: the romance.

Yes, Trinity (Carrie Anne-Moss) is back as well, and her chemistry with Keanu Reeves as Neo is said to be one of the highlights of this meta-nostalgic revival. Whether he rest — from its philosophical themes to its action scenes — is serviceable or satisfying is still up for debate.

Here’s what critics are saying about The Matrix Resurrections:

How does it compare to the original?

It’s constantly engaging, thoughtful, and challenging in all of the best ways the original Matrix ever was. – Sean Mulvihill, FanboyNation

As excitingly fresh and ambitious as The Matrix was in its approach to cyberpunk cinema in 1999, The Matrix Resurrections is just as devoted to its bold and disruptive vision in 2021. – Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine

The Matrix Resurrections goes back to the integral source code that made the original so captivating. – Julian Roman, MovieWeb

This is a resurrection of the excitement and sense of wonder we felt when we watched the first Matrix. – Sherin Nicole,

Where the original film was explosively innovatory, this is just another piece of IP, an algorithm of unoriginality. – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

What about the two previous sequels?

It’s better than the sequels. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

Resurrections is easily better than the last two installments. – Kirsten Acuna, Insider

Will satisfy fans and critics in a way Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions didn’t. – Patricia Puentes, Ask

If you’re in the much smaller club that believes the sequels were under-appreciated examples of brainy myth-making, it’s possible Resurrections will break your heart. – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix Resurrections

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Does it have its own identity?

It’s great to see this new film establish a visual fluency all its own amidst the wafts of nostalgia. – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

What you get that’s new this time around is the overall look of the movie… Resurrections feels much warmer, with plenty of oranges and reds interspersed, that make the eventual heart of the film beat that much stronger. – Germain Lussier,

Through its clever flashbacks and callbacks, The Matrix Resurrections takes moments that are very familiar and makes them entirely new. – Sean Mulvihill, FanboyNation

It’s not servicing fans. It’s in service of itself… There is value in looking back as long as that experience moves you forward. – Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine

Even though The Matrix Resurrections is a nostalgia-filled homage that wouldn’t work without the franchise’s three previous movies, this new installment still manages to be fresh and original in its own way. – Patricia Puentes, Ask

The movie is in love with the previous movies, but in a sort of defiant way. Lana seems to be saying, “Oh, you liked the previous movies? HERE THEN, HAVE THEM!” – Tom Santilli, Movie Show Plus

This one largely eschews innovation. Rather, Resurrections takes comfort in the familiar. – Peter Debruge, Variety

Does it have something important to say?

Without being dogmatic or contrived, the writers pack a lot into their characters’ conversations… about free will, how a story never ends, the limits of reality. – Patricia Puentes, Ask

The plot, slight as it is, creates a frame on which Wachowski can hang a lot of indignation. – Hope Madden, MaddWolf

You get a real sense that Lana has something very important to say, and she’s pissed off about it. – Tom Santilli, Movie Show Plus

You begin to wonder if this movie is about anything or if it’ll just be two-plus hours of Wachowski trolling. – Robert Daniels, The Playlist

Keanu Reeves in The Matrix Resurrections

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Is it self-aware?

The Matrix Resurrections is well-aware that it has a lot to prove and its level of meta might be too much for some. I dug it, though. – Germain Lussier,

This tongue-in-cheek approach adds a dose of levity to a franchise that had previously been consumed by darkness. – Julian Roman, MovieWeb

Not since Mary Martin’s Peter Pan implored a generation of young Americans to clap for a near-death Tinkerbell has there been a production with quite this level of fourth-wall-breaking earnestness. – Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine

To some, the over-referencing and meta nature will be seen as a double-edged sword… The Matrix Resurrections forces the audience to question the entire purpose of the franchise. – Sheraz Farooqi, Cinema Debate

How is the action?

The action sequences are reliably captivating and despite the film’s meandering plot, combination of tones, and heady sci-fi, it clips along as an entertaining spectacle. – Drew Gregory, Autostraddle

The Matrix Resurrections sticks with slick wirework, wicked martial arts choreography, and ferocious gunplay. Action junkies will get a fix and a half here. – Julian Roman, MovieWeb

The action doesn’t entirely live up to the originals, but how could it?Hope Madden, MaddWolf

The choreography is still strong overall, but can’t help but miss that original feel. – Sheraz Farooqi, Cinema Debate

There’s probably more action here than in the original film. But many of the scenes, though large in scale and scope, feel redundant. – Kirsten Acuna, Insider

The absence of fight choreographer Yuen Woo-ping is deeply felt whenever Resurrections goes in for close hand-to-hand combat — moments that recall the cut-to-shreds chaos cinema of Jerry Bruckheimer and Tony Scott. – Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine

The filmmaking isn’t as clear or exciting, not as innovative as it once was; too many cuts mired in a darkness. – Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine

The Matrix Resurrections

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

What about the romance?

Resurrections is a love story at its core… This time you feel two old lovers and friends reuniting after years apart, and it just works. – Hannah Lodge, Screen Rex

Compared to the relatively sexless blockbusters we’re used to, it’s refreshing to see [Neo and Trinity’s] romance front and center. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

The Matrix Resurrections is primarily focused on the bond between Neo and Trinity, which serves as the emotional core of the film and forces the audience to reexamine the original trilogy in that same light. – Sheraz Farooqi, Cinema Debate

Its emphasis on the romance between Neo and Trinity allows Resurrections to become a devastatingly sincere movie about how love is the best weapon we have to make sense of a world that fills our heads with the white noise of war and conflict on a forever loop. – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Do Reeves and Moss still have chemistry?

When Reeves and Moss are on screen together their unmistakable chemistry rekindles hot enough to warm a city. – Robert Daniels, The Playlist

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss are electric together on screen… Spectacular. – Julian Roman, MovieWeb

The audience can’t help but swoon anytime they’re on screen together.Germain Lussier,

There’s never a moment where you doubt their starry-eyed fondness for each other.Keith Uhlich, Slant Magazine

Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix Resurrections

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

So it’s great to have Moss back as Trinity?

Carrie-Anne Moss is still a force of nature.Hope Madden, MaddWolf

She’s excellent. Badass, striking and with an underlying yearning she’s able to nearly beam at you.Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine

It’s a pleasure to see Moss return, but a shame to see her given so little interesting to do. – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

Carrie-Ann Moss’ screen time is comparable to Zendaya’s in WB’s Dune… which is a shame because the duo’s scenes are easily the film’s best. – Kirsten Acuna, Insider

Are there any standouts among the new cast?

As much as we’d have loved to see Laurence Fishburne back as Morpheus, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is a superb replacement. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

It’s Jessica Henwick who threatens to run away with the entire show. She is a revelation, imbuing her character with warmth, strength and assured intelligence. – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

Jessica Henwick’s Bugs is the single most electric addition to the franchise since the original. – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

How is the pacing?

The film’s pacing makes sense because it mirrors the first film like poetry… It feels like the movie wraps just as it finally ramps up and gets going. – Kirsten Acuna, Insider

It’s too long, but all of them are. – Hope Madden, MaddWolf

Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix Resurrections

(Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures)

Will we want to see it more than once?

This is, even more than the first three movies, a film built for repeat viewing. – Germain Lussier,

I’m excited to see what unfolds in second and third viewings of Resurrections. – Hannah Lodge, Screen Rex

Will it make us want more Matrix movies?

As much as the movie is self-aware of its status as a legacyquel, it definitely sets the pieces on the board for this to act as a soft reboot for further movies. – Ian Sandwell, Digital Spy

If this is the start of a new trilogy, you can count me in. – Sean Mulvihill, FanboyNation

There’s nothing here to inspire hope that, should Warners or whomever insist on more sequels, they’d be worth seeing. – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

The Matrix Resurrections is in theaters on December 24, 2021.

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