With their third (and hopefully, final) Matrix movie, the Wachowski brothers have delivered a dud so disappointing, they may as well have bussed in Ewoks to save Zion.
To understand why, let’s just dive right in.
The Matrix Revolutions picks up where Reloaded left off and finds Neo (Keanu Reeves) trapped halfway between the Matrix and the real world in, bear with me, a subway station, where an Indian family is also hanging out. This station is a metaphorical and actual passage between the two worlds and is built and operated by a guy called the Trainman (Bruce Spence, better known as The Gyro Captain in the Mad Max movies). Ahem.
The action then follows Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) as they visit a bondage club operated by Reloaded‘s Frenchman (this guy gets around!), where a deal to get Neo out of the train station is brokered by the remaining heroes. Once he’s out, it’s off for the now obligatory visit to the Oracle (now played by Mary Alice because prior actress Gloria Foster died after the filming of Reloaded), where the usual psychobabble ensues. (On explaining her suddenly altered appearance, the Oracle says something like, ‘I made a choice, and I had to give up more than I wanted.’)
There’s surprisingly little action in the first half of the film — the only major fight sequence being Trinity and Morpheus’s guns-blazing entry into the bondage club. It recalls almost exactly the high-rise entry scene from The Matrix, only the bad guys in the bondage club can inexplicably walk on the ceiling. Lionel Richie, where are you when we need you?
Aside from this, the opening hour is consumed by endless scenes at Zion where we see the humans preparing for the imminent arrival of the sentinels, while Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) and the other out-there-in-the-pipes folks tries to get their ships jump-started. And of course everyone is whining endlessly about life, death, and love. This is, after all, their last chance to make a big speech before the end of the series. The dialogue is so bad that the audience was laughing its collective ass off in my screening.
Fortunately the sentinels finally arrive, prompting one of the most impressive and exhaustive CGI battles in screen history. The siege of the sentinel army is crushing to the point where your eyes start to burn out with sensory overload. The battle ends with one of the corniest plot points in movie history, as Niobe rushes back in her ship to detonate its EMP pulse (which immediately knocks out any machine in range) inside Zion. So… why have the Zionists spent all their energy on creating fighting robo-machines when they could have simply invested in hundreds of EMP devices in case of such an attack (or gosh, even one EMP in case of emergency)? Logic aside, the attack is the sole highlight of the film, if you can stomach the 30-minute-plus barrage on the senses.
But don’t think about it too hard because you might miss the big finish, which, get this, has Neo traveling to ‘the machine city’ in order to broker a deal with the machines to save Zion! Uh, memo to Wachowskis: We dig Neo because he knows kung fu, not because of his keen negotiation skills.
And of course we’re back into the Matrix one last time, so Neo and Smith (Hugo Weaving) can face off yet again in what has been dubbed ‘the most complicated sequence ever made.’ If you believe that, you deserve to be forced to see this movie twice. It’s a fair enough battle (they can both fly now, zzzzz), but it’s hardly groundbreaking.
The worst part of Revolutions is how convenient everything tidies up, yet the ending is so unsatisfactorily pat (and yet indecisive) that you can’t help but feel disappointed on a number of levels. Reloaded may have been dippy but at least it asked a few questions about reality. Revolutions doesn’t even try to answer any of them.
The acting, the action, the sets… none of this will strike you as new. It’s more of the same Matrix world that we’ve come to expect, only this time out it’s dragged down completely by the force of two enormous egos that have somehow convinced themselves that people want to see a preachy-talkie movie instead of an old-fashioned action flick. The series might have been salvaged if only they’d excised all the crap from both the second and third movies and put all the good (or merely adequate) bits into a single film.
Bottom line: If you thought Reloaded was OK or even good (as I did), you’re going to be merely disappointed by Revolutions. But if you didn’t like Reloaded, God help you when you storm out of the theater and try to get your money back. You deserve it.
The 10-disc Matrix DVD box set is an exhaustive set containing 35 hours of bonus material alone. Each of the three films contains numerous commentary tracks, and each film is buttressed by a feature length documentary like The Matrix Revisited. The Animatrix is also included along with three additional discs full of archival material, interviews, philosophical inquiries, trailers, and extra footage. Any Matrix fan will want to own this set and keep it on the top shelf, where the cat can’t get to it.
Like a punch to the jaw.