As a metatextual exercise, The Matrix Resurrections is filled with interesting thoughts. Is the Matrix the simulated reality that we knew it to be from the previous three films in the franchise or is just it a video game created by Thomas Anderson, otherwise known as Neo?

Did Neo dream up Trinity and is her real name Tiffany? And does Deja Vu actually refer to a black cat? The idea extends to the use of the song White Rabbit, sung by counterculture icon Grace Slick and made famous by the band Jefferson Airplane, whose founder once owned a club called The Matrix.

The films poured out of the fecund imagination of the siblings Lana and Lilly Wachowski. The retro-cool aesthetic, cutting-edge visual effects and skilful mapping of ancient philosophical concepts onto concerns over a technology-dominated dystopian future placed the Matrix series ahead of their time.

Lana Wachowski has solo directing credit on the latest journey down the rabbit hole. Although set two decades after the events of Matrix Revolutions (2003), the barebones production values and grainy VFX appear to predate the original Matrix movie from 1999.

Neo (Keanu Reeves) is both celebrated video game designer and troubled therapy seeker. Trinity is Tiffany (Carrie-Anne Moss), who has a husband and children and doesn’t recognise Neo anymore.

The Matrix Resurrections (2021).

A group of Neophytes rescue the messiah from his prison and set about battling a new enemy. Neo meets an upgraded version of Morpheus, played by Laurence Fishburne in the previous films and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in The Matrix Resurrections.

Jada Pinkett Smith returns as an older version of her commander Niobe. Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s character provides a link to another film in the franchise. The cast includes Jessica Henwick as one of the Neophytes, Jonathon Groff as Neo’s business partner and Neil Patrick Harris as Neo’s therapist.

Key moments from The Matrix that are projected onto the background and sequences that mimic the first movie seek to create a conversation about the franchise’s legacy and reboot culture. The fan service extends to the Neo-Trinity love saga, which results in scenes both touching and sappy. The unearned 149-minute running length and frequent callbacks suggest a movie that is caught in its own time loop trap.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas in The Matrix Resurrections (2021). Courtesy Warner Bros.