NEW YORK (CNS) – You wouldn’t want to spend the rest of your life floating unconscious in a capsule full of goo, would you? Well neither does Keanu Reeves, and so we get “The Matrix Resurrections” (Warner Bros.), the fourth film in the hit sci-fi series that first aired in 1999.

Reeves once again reprizes his role of computer genius Thomas Anderson, aka Neo (his hacker name). According to the franchise’s elaborate myth, Neo was once subject to a fundamental illusion, shared by the vast majority of the human race.

What Neo had always taken for real life turned out to be the title’s sprawling simulation. This alternate, purely mental universe had been forced upon humanity by a race of intelligent machines so that, in the concrete world, intelligent gadgets could keep people hovering, contented in coma, in the aforementioned vessels while they were harvested their energy.

Neo, once enlightened, eventually became the messianic leader of a rebellion against enslaving gadgets. He also fell in love with his compatriot Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss).

As this episode – which takes place 20 years after the action of the last film – opens, however, Neo has been cradled in submission and a form of amnesia.

He works as a game designer at a company he co-owns with his longtime nemesis, Matrix Agent Smith (Jonathan Groff). Much of his free time is spent in the office of his anonymous analyst (Neil Patrick Harris) whose manners are so considerate they are suspicious.

Despite his shrink’s best efforts to convince Neo that his past exploits were hallucinations, he remains uneasy and uncertain. Encounters with his former shapeshifter comrade Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) – the man who first blown his mind in the face of The Matrix – and with Bugs (Jessica Henwick), a newcomer to the fight, fuel his doubts.

The same is true of his weak recognition of Trinity. Like Neo, she is once again trapped in The Matrix, this time as a housewife and mother of two named Tiffany with whom Neo – who frequents the same cafe – feels a lingering and indistinct connection.

All of these clues combined end up awakening Neo to a new insurgency.

Viewers unfamiliar with the elaborate backstory receive little help navigating the show’s combination of chases, dusting, and labyrinthine philosophy. And, while the chaos of the struggle chaired by director and co-writer Lana Wachowski is mostly bloodless, some are worrying.

Wachowski and his screenwriters, David Mitchell and Aleksandar Hemon, also dot the dialogues with fairly frequent vulgarities. The bottom line, therefore: this puzzle works best for adults.

The film contains mostly stylized violence with some gory, partial nudity, some uses of profanity, about a half-dozen softer oaths, a few foul language, and considerable coarse and foul language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is R – Restricted. Children under 17 must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.


Mulderig is on the staff of the Catholic News Service.