When we last left Neo (Keanu Reeves, oddly absent for nearly a third of this
picture), he was laid out on a table in a coma next to the Agent
Smith-controlled Bane (Ian Bliss). With the machines burrowing their way into
Zion for a last, winner-takes-all battle, it's up to Morpheus (Laurence
Fishburne, in a distant supporting role) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) to help
Neo out of his mental prison, which takes them to the Merovingian (Lambert
Wilson) and the Oracle (Mary Alice) for assistance. Now, with time ticking away
before Zion is destroyed, Neo must make choices that will affect his life, and
those of his loved ones, all while having to defeat the machines and the rapidly spreading Agent Smith (Hugo
Weaving, stealing the film) who is becoming impatient in his pursuit of Neo.
I'll get the bad news out of the way early: "The Matrix Revolutions" (IMDb listing) is the
direct continuation of last May's "The Matrix Reloaded," thus the over-thought
plotting, melodramatic performances, and phrases like "systemic anomaly" all
make reappearances in the new film. "Reloaded" has become the stuff of legends;
with fans of the original endlessly debating what went wrong with
the sequel and what it all means. Personally, it took some time to digest
"Reloaded," but I'm partial to its quizzical screenplay and the gangbusters
imagery. I was secretly praying that "Revolutions" would quiet my fears about the overall quality of "Reloaded," which is downright
detested by many.
"Revolutions" starts off on familiar ground, returning to the Wachowski
Brothers' (Larry and Andy) towering screenplay of exposition and
thesaurus-bending dialog. The film is very lean on introductions, plunging right
into the third chapter of Neo's journey to become the chosen one.
"Revolutions" is more direct in its story since the film isn't saddled with the
burden of setting up plot threads like "Reloaded" frantically tried to do.
"Revolutions" is a war film; a soliloquy on sacrifice and death, and another
round of the Wachowskis' philosophical discussions. Gone are the Architect and
his unquestionably summer-blockbuster-unfriendly nonsense, the dance parties on
Zion, and the defining action sequences that made the first two films so
memorable. Outside of an introductory fight in the Merovingian's Club Hell
(featuring an all too fleeting glimpse of Monica Bellucci's Persephone, who is
reduced to a paragraph of dialog), there is nothing in "Revolutions" that could
compare to the "Burly Brawl" or the freeway chase of "Reloaded." And quite
honestly, those touches are missed.
Because the plot has been straightened out, the visual feast the Wachowskis'
have prepared is decidedly larger in scale and ferociousness. The main course of
the film is the machine attack on Zion, realized through a massive battle
between the millions of swarming "squiddies" and the Zion's defense force: an
army of mechanical heavy-lifting machines (shades of the power loader seen in
"Aliens"). Each is outfitted with gigantic guns and operators prepared to sacrifice
themselves for the future of their land. This is obviously where the money was
spent. The Wachowskis' blow the doors off their own film with the sheer scope of
this battle, which combines great looking special effects with traditional war
film chestnuts such as the disillusioned general, the meek private who saves the
day, and the desperate moments within the firefight, when prayers for help are
rarely answered. Calling it enormous doesn't do justice to this sequence.
Coming close to topping it is the final battle between Neo and Agent Smith,
which makes good on the promise of something apocalyptic for the final act. As
the two pummel each other in the streets and in the air of the Matrix, the
Wachowskis utilize imaginative special effects and cautious camera placement to
cover this battle to end all battles.
I know what you're saying, "Will 'Revolutions' answer the mysteries revealed in
'Reloaded?'" It's tough to sort out all the details in one sitting (like
"Reloaded"), and if you held me at gunpoint, my theories on the events in
"Revolutions" might not hold water. But I feel comfort in the knowledge that
the Wachowski brothers know what they are doing with this trilogy. Regardless of the
puzzling developments seen in the last two movies, the basic material is strong
enough to withstand some logic blunders or convoluted "systemic anomaly" dialog.
"Revolutions" doesn't have the fun factor of the original (that was
bled dry long ago), but its chaos-free epic nature is something to be treasured,
even if this isn't exactly where I thought (had you asked me in 1999) the series
So, at the end of the day, what do we have? "The Matrix" is the sleek, efficient
classic; a forefather to modern special effects and a kick in the pants at a
time when movies needed it. "The Matrix Reloaded" is the head-scratcher, yet
delicate flower of acquired taste, revealing burgeoning and ambitious plotting
and deeper thematic searching. "The Matrix Revolutions" is the final, essential
movement of the Wachowskis' vivid imagination for their series. It doesn't quite
answer all the questions, but it delivers the thrills and the reverence. This
final chapter is sure to be debated for years to come.
Filmfodder Grade: B+