As its title suggested, The Matrix Resurrections brought back most of the key creators and actors of the hugely successful sci-fi series. Stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss reprised their roles as Neo and Trinity and Lana Wachowski directed and co-wrote the film.

One of the ironies of the film was that Reeves and Moss’ characters both died in the previous movie, The Matrix Revolutions, while the only key hero who survived, Laurence Fishburne’s Morpheus, did not return in Resurrections. At least not as played by Fishburne. Instead, Wachowski cast Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as a computer program version of Morpheus designed by Neo to help awaken him from yet another artificial simulation of reality. For whatever reason, Fishburne wound up the odd man out from the original Matrix cast.

While he didn’t appear in the film, Fishburne did watch it. He told Variety that he had seen The Matrix Resurrections, which was released last December, and he thought “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be ... and it wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be.”

He added “But I thought Carrie-Anne and Keanu really did their thing.”

Asked whether he missed being a part of the film, Fisburne replied, “No, not really.”

I was a fan of The Matrix Resurrections, with some qualifications. (In my review, I called it a film of “bold ideas, cool visuals, and a fair amount of inscrutable character motivations and technobabble dialogue.”) And one of my biggest questions about it was its version of Morpheus. I never quite wrapped my brain around why Neo created this other Morpheus — or why he didn’t just make a program of him actually looked like the Morpheus he knew. (I mean, if you’re creating a program of a dude, why would you choose to make it not look like the man you remember?) In general, the movie suffered for not having Fishburne’s steely, philosophical presence in it. Abdul-Mateen is a very good actor, and he did his best with the material he was given, but Resurrections wasn’t quite the same without the original Morpheus.

The Matrix Resurrections, along with the original Matrix trilogy, is streaming on HBO Max. Fishburne’s new movie, The School For Good and Evil, is on Netflix.

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