The fourth Matrix movie kicks off with a great idea (and a reason to continue with the story 18 years later), but unfortunately that idea peters out, and the movie gets stuck in a very old rut. Directed and co-written by Lana Wachowski (working, for the first time, without her sister Lilly), The Matrix Resurrections begins with a savage satire on corporate greed and conniving marketers as Anderson's video game company revs up for a new sequel that he doesn't want to make. (Christina Ricci appears in a hilarious small role as a particularly tacky marketer.) Wachowski keeps up a certain queasy tension during this first part, including a brilliant montage sequence -- set to the tune of, of course, "White Rabbit" -- that demonstrates how mundane and meaningless this existence is.
As with the original The Matrix (1999), there's a great mystery afoot, with odd little clues everywhere. (Whats up with Reeves' reflection in the computer monitor?) And, ironically, a video game focus group asks all of the questions that viewers are likely asking: What's real, and what's not? What matters, and what doesn't? But at some point near the halfway mark, The Matrix Resurrections reveals everything. The deliciousness is gone, and everything is about planning for the big rescue, fights, chases, and explosions. And without the masterful fight choreography of Yuen Woo-ping, who worked on the first three films, even these look painfully ordinary. The movie seems to have forgotten its original satirical intentions and just swallowed its own blue pill.