THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS
Director: Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Ann Moss, Hugo Weaving, Jada Pinkett Smith, Harold Perrineau Jr., Harry J. Lennix, Mary Alice
MPAA Rating: (for sci-fi violence and brief sexual content)
Running Time: 2:09
Release Date: 11/5/03
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Review by Mark Dujsik
Thus ends the Matrix trilogy, not even with the dignity of a whimper but with the timid finality of a dull thud. The Matrix Revolutions isn't just disappointing; it's downright depressing. I realize that perhaps I was a bit hyperbolic and wrote myself into a corner by describing its predecessor as being black-and-white compared to the original film, because where does that leave me here? If The Matrix Reloaded was straightforward than Revolutions is nothing more than a literal straight line. It's a mere shadow of its predecessors, an obligatory unthinking finale to a story that may have simply had too many ideas running around within its world to tie everything together satisfactorily. It's a shame, too, because directors Andy and Larry Wachowski seemed so confident in their vision and so focused on their plan of action that even during the shaky parts of Reloaded, we followed along for the ride, knowing that—fail all else—they were in total control. Now, failings of the trilogy's dramatic structure are crystal clear, and whatever promise the previous film had for a thoughtful resolution is dismissed for a pair of extended, repetitive battles.
The movie picks up where Reloaded ended, fulfilling the prophesy of the "To be continued" title card. Neo (Keanu Reeves) is still in a coma and lying in the medical bay with the similarly comatose Bane (Ian Bliss), who has been possessed by the virus-like Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving). Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith), Link (Harold Perrineau), and a crew of other subordinates are on their way back to Zion, where the machines are steadily making their way to destroy the freed remnants of humanity. Neo is stuck in limbo somewhere between The Matrix and the real world and cannot escape to either. The Merovingian (Lambert Wilson) holds the key to Neo's safe return to The Matrix, where the Wachowskis have now decided that everything is in slow motion, and after some convincing (a pretty big Mexican standoff), he agrees to bring Neo back. Meanwhile, Zion is preparing for defense against the machines under Lock's (Harry Lennix) strategy to protect the dock before the Sentinels reach the city. All the while, Smith is taking matters into his own hands and is slowly but surely spreading throughout The Matrix and has his eyes set on The Oracle (Mary Alice).
There's lots of talk in the first act, an exposition that reiterates everything we already know and does nothing to set up anything beyond the two fights that are coming. Neither action sequence comes anywhere near the imagination of the multiple Agent Smith fight, the stairway duel, or the freeway chase of the last movie, and instead both rely on generic thrills. The first battle is a shooting gallery sequence in which the fighters of Zion operate robots and shoot at the incoming hordes of Sentinels. There's a lot of shooting, lots of explosions, but absolutely no connection here. The problem is that Zion itself is just as dull as it was in the previous chapter, and this time around, the underdevelopment makes for a boring central battle, not just an awkward series of scenes, and hurts the story. The characters sit in the cockpit, manipulate joysticks, and yell at the oncoming swarm; it's a CGI feast and not much else. One moment in which we see the battle from the perspective of those who serve as ammunition runners has a short visceral impact, but the imagery loses its effect after a brief while.
The second fight is the climactic clash between Neo and Smith, which suffer comparably. We've seen this type of scene before from the series. There's a lot of punching, lots of flying, but no connection. This is perhaps one of the worst failings of the script, since we learn from the Oracle early on that Smith is perhaps the most important character in the series next to Neo and is indeed Neo's foil. It's also here that we realize what a great villain and fascinating character Smith is. Hugo Weaving and his Smith are sadly underused here, and his appearance in the last battle means the only scene which expands upon the Wachowskis' philosophical musings. Later moments in which Neo and Smith exchange ideas are far more exciting than the moments in which they exchange punches. Neo's response to Smith's asking why he keeps fighting has a sort of beautiful simplicity to it, and it also pretty much resolves the main debate between fate and free will in the world of the films.And there is a final resolution to the series in The Matrix Revolutions, but it is just as simple and naïve as the rest of the movie. After all is said and done, there's one image that stands out. As Neo and Trinity make their way toward the machine city, they fly through the clouds and see light—an unblemished world. It's odd that in a movie full of robots, hovercrafts, and killer machines that visual is the most memorable. Then again, the two preceding films managed to give us something new; we've seen everything here already. Some conclusion.
Copyright © 2003 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.