The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
Four years ago the Wachowskis revolutionized the world of cinema, with their surprise sci-fi opus, The Matrix. Their mixture of philosophy, kinetic visuals, and inventive action with style to spare laid waste to all inferior action movies and gave birth to a cult of fan boys. Now six months after the second installment, The Matrix: Reloaded, were left to supposedly close the chapter on Matrix land.
Neo (Keanu Reeves) is caught in a strange limbo between the machine world and the real world. The only passage back to either is through the Merovingians chief hobo, the Trainman (seriously, he’s a hobo with teeth like a jack-o-lantern). Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) travel to the most spastic fetish club imaginable for negotiations with the Merovingian. He agrees to give them back Neo if they will bring him the eyes of the Oracle, the prophet of the Matrix.
The rest of Revolutions takes place within two storylines. The first involves Morpheus and his former flame Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith, finally getting a sizeable role she deserves) flying the last remaining ship of the human fleet back to Zion, the last remaining free human city, before the tunneling army of the machines breach the city walls. The other storyline involves Neo and Trinity flying a ship to the heart of Machine Town to have a face-to-face with The Wizard. They want to negotiate a peace between the two factions and put a stop to the increasingly uncontrollable rogue program, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), who, left unchecked, could destroy both the human and machine world.
Reeves has never been confused with a serious actor, or even much of an actor for that matter. And sure, he has a penchant for being out-acted by inanimate objects, but his stint in Revolutions is stiff and wooden, like he’s just punching the clock to get through another day. It doesn’t help his case that half of his scenes involve the woefully inept romance between him and Moss.
The only person that seems to be having any fun in this overly serious melodrama with guns is Weaving. His Agent Smith character has morphed into the true star of the Matrix trilogy. Hes charming and even more likable than the dull-witted Neo. Weaving seems to love the drawn out line delivery, so much so he might be accused of abusing anti-depressants. His insidious cackles are a delight.
The plot of The Matrix: Revolutions has several head-scratching moments. Like the kid who yearns to be in the fight but is too young and clumsy. Anyone who’s ever seen any movie ever will know how that plot point turns out. Then there are questions like, why do people far in the future still use wheelbarrows to lug ammo around? Why, during a shoot-out at the fetish clubs gun check room, do people jump on the ceiling? Why would being on the ceiling make you any more difficult to shoot? The whole sequence comes off like a poorly done rip-off of the Wachowskis’ own bank lobby shoot-out from the original Matrix.
Revolutions is the least densely plotted of the three films. Now, one would think this would be a godsend, especially after the pretensions and bloated mess that was The Matrix: Reloaded. But theres nothing at all memorable in this third installment, and perhaps this is because everything but ten minutes of it takes place in the dingy real world. Who cares about a post-apocalyptic universe where the surviving subterranean humans wear rags and pull all-night raves? I’ve seen that stuff in a thousand other movies (maybe not the raves part, though). Everything is better within the virtual reality Matrix world; from the clothes to the gravity-defying cool acrobatics to the cinematography to, God help me for saying it, the acting and dialogue. At least Reloaded gave us the stylish goods when it came to that heart-thumping freeway chase.
Although Revolutions is a slight improvement over the tedious Reloaded, this is only because after seeing the third and final leg of this trilogy, it makes the second film look worse. The intriguing new elements of Reloaded, like the French Merovingian and his wife (the lovely Monica Bellucci), are now seen to be nothing more than dropped subplots. Even the coolest additions to the Matrix universe the ghostly twins- don’t even show up. Sigh. Now that I know where the story ends, the loose ends of Reloaded don’t justify themselves nearly as much as I would have liked.
The showpieces of Revolutions are two long battles in its final act. The first is a near-20 minute assault by the Sentinels, resembling flying mechanical octopi, against the defenses of Zion. It’s exciting for a while but battle fatigue settles in quickly. You can only watch so many CGI robo-exoskeletons shooting CGI machine guns at CGI flying machines as they explode in CGI explosions and CGI shrapnel. The effects are nice, and seem more polished than Reloaded, but the sense of imagination seems to be entirely absent. The second battle is the final fist-fight between Neo and Agent Smith in the pouring rain. Smith has duplicated himself enough to cover miles upon miles of high rises. The fight sequence is impressive and beautifully filmed, but it amounts to a big shoulder shrug after watching Neo battle 100 Smiths in Reloaded. The final confrontation in Revolutions is adequately satisfying if a bit under whelming and unmemorable.
The need for corporate coffers to ring has turned what was a great stand alone film into a mediocre franchise, one whose diminished hopes and lowered expectations can only be judged on par with the Star Wars prequels. My friend Colin equated watching The Matrix: Revolutions to a wet dream: momentarily satisfying but leaving one with nothing but pangs of emptiness. The Matrix trilogy doesn’t end with any sense of urgency; instead it draws to a close with a half-baked artificial fulfillment. The journey of Neo and Trinity and all the rest has come to a whimpering end.
Nate’s Grade: C
Posted on November 5, 2003, in 2003 Movies and tagged action, carrie anne-moss, hugo weaving, jada pinkett, keanu reeves, laurence, robots, sci-fi, sequel, wachowski siblings. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.