Matrix Revolutions (2003) dir. Andy and Larry Wachowski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving
With the final chapter of the “Matrix” trilogy, the brothers, to put it plainly, just ran out of gas.
At the end of “ Matrix Reloaded” we were told by ‘the Architect” that Neo, as ‘the one’, was planted by both he and the Oracle as a way of giving hope, or purpose, to the human colonies that they could defeat their robot masters – a truly intriguing thought, which teased us with thoughts that, hmmm, is Neo a robot as well? How will the humans ever get out of this cycle of birth, death, and rebirth?
The Wachowskis set up for themselves an impossibly complex puzzle to solve. Well, it’s not completely insurmountable, except, with their reliance on pure action as opposed to intrigue and suspense, there was no hope for the brothers that they could wrap everything up satisfactorily.
Where “Matrix Revolutions” fails is that it’s set almost exclusively in that unappealing, clausterphobic haphazardly designed Zion underworld. The virtual matrix world of highway car chases, office room shootouts, and city street hand-to-hand combat was where all the magic happened. Other than the fantastic reveal of Neo’s cocoon-like prison in the first film, almost every scene in that cavernous real world was an uncinematic crutch on the story.
In “Revolutions” we begin aboard one of the patrols ships in the underground tunnels. Neo is in a coma, which means he’s in some kind of hastily-explained limbo-world in between the Matrix and real life. Neo, Morpheus and Seraph go back into the Matrix to rescue him. They chase down a dull new baddie named the Trainman (Bruce Spence, who is too old to run properly) and confront that coy Frenchman, the Merovingian, again. Unlike the last film the confrontation is a quickie, and the foursome get away with ease.
Meanwhile those nasty robots are digging their way to Zion. Eventually they punch their way through the wall and a gigantic CG battle ensues with mondo robots and mondo bullets bombarding us. After Neo visits the Oracle again he finally figures out he has to go to the heart of the Machine City in order to save the day for Zion.
As a technical exercise in CG, the lengthy battle with the fish-like robots is a great achievement. But it’s just overkill, and also headscratchingly illogical. There’s a scene when the gruff military leader, Mifune, is strapped to his large mechanical harness (uncreatively stolen from James Cameron’s “Aliens”) and battles literally thousands of robots by himself. The amount of robots coming down from the sky is endless, yet they group together and fight like one large school of fish flying headlong into the guy’s bullet stream. Really, none of the robots were smart enough split off and come from behind, or the side?
This logical oversight could easily have been glossed over and suspended if the story were engaging and we actually cared if any of them survived or won the battle. The point is, by the end we never cared for any of these human characters, because they never seemed human or likeable at all. The stodgy military characterizations of these Zion characters are as soulless and uninteresting as those unemotive Matrix Agents.
Sadly, screentime of our heroes, Neo and Trinity, are vastly decreased and leave the film for what seems like half an hour while we get bombarded with CGI robots. When the Wachowskis do return to the romantic couple, we’re never really sure where they’re going, or what they're going to do when they get there. They seem to head in the right direction though, because they end up at a balcony where Neo has a conversation with another being even higher up in the chain than the Architect. Really, I thought that morose white-bearded dude was the leader? Guess not.
In the final act, we get to suffer through the longest death scene in movie history. I won’t ruin who that is for anyone who hasn’t seen this film, but it’s just an indication of the sad whimper with which this series died.
The filmmakers freely acknowledge this general sentiment of the fans. And so Joel Silver and the Wachowskis allowed a trio of film critics to critique the film as their audio commentary which makes the film is actually humourous and watchable.
"Matrix Revolutions" is available on Blu-Ray from Warner Home Video.
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THE MATRIX RELOADED