What began as a controlled tale of humanity’s salvation
has come full circle. “The Matrix” opened with a bang
over four years ago and inspired intense speculation from the
moment it hit screens. Philosophical and religious questions
abound, the first installment presented a machine-dominated world,
the second one questioned it and the final story in the Wachowski
Brothers’ epic trilogy makes a feeble attempt to sum it all
up, to answer the open-endedness of its predecessors.

Mira Levitan
Mira Levitan
Once, twice, three times my savior. (Courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Unlike the development of Neo from the five saviors before him,
this successor drastically recesses and diminishes in power and
style.

Whereas the original “Matrix” introduced a
self-contained world — genius in itself — with clearly
defined rules that explained everything to the smallest detail, and
“Reloaded” projected a grandiose spectacle that rambled
incessantly but became genius beyond itself, “The Matrix
Revolutions” forgoes any brilliance for a trite, empty
conclusion. The novelty of spectacle has worn out its welcome and
the mental indulgence becomes tiresome, leaving precious little
besides clichéd action for the finale.

“Revolutions” begins precisely where
“Reloaded” ends. A still unconscious Neo (Keanu Reeves)
happens to actively remain somewhere between the world of the
Matrix and the machine world, trapped in a subway terminal
controlled by the Trainman. Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and
Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss) plug into the Matrix to pull Neo out. One
gratuitous fight scene with thugs walking on the ceiling and a
pointless discussion with Merovingian later, they rescue Neo from
the Mobil Ave (limbo scrambled anyone?) station.

While Zion fervently prepares for the impending machine attack,
Neo finds time to visit the Oracle — who, in a poor attempt
to mask the replacement of the late Gloria Foster with Mary Alice,
has received punishment for her choices by being physically changed
as an attempt to explain her morphed appearance — asking yet
more questions to which Neo, as usual, already knows the
answer.

It would seem that the intrigue of “Reloaded,” that
distanced so many, returns in full force, but setting most of
“Revolutions” in the machine world dispels the
questions after the first 15 minutes. Neo’s comatose
counterpart Bane (Ian Bliss), a human body now inhabited by one of
the many Agent Smiths (Hugo Weaving), awakens and attempts to rid
the world of Neo while the Agent Smith program continues to rapidly
replicate itself throughout the Matrix.

Unfortunately, the long-winded dialogue droning through
“Reloaded” is here replaced by more insipid, even
laughable, speeches. Only this time, no exciting twists or superb
special effects can cover the cheesy babble. Without the
established stylistics of the Matrix world to drive the plot, the
story places its hefty load on a bland and ugly reality. Cohesion
and quality suffer as a result of the under-established set pieces
and jumpy action.

As is characteristic of the Wachowskis, some dazzling sequences
and cinematography enter the picture, but so sparsely spaced is
that wonderment that the majority of the battle for Zion has the
feel of an abysmally written war movie. Yuen Wo Ping’s
choreography and the innovative motion-capture that raised the bar
for every action movie since both receive drastically reduced
significance in favor of the more characteristically sci-fi clash.
New relationships appear during the incredibly time-consuming
battle — notably a painstakingly long period in which Neo and
Trinity are absent — that have no pertinence to the story
whatsoever.

When “Revolutions” finally returns to the heart of
the trilogy and we are introduced to the machine city, the entire
prelude of the first two films and the driving conflict of the
overarching plot, the war between man and machine, has been shoved
aside. All the philosophy and religious amalgamation is replaced by
one supreme and blatant religious symbol. Even the impressive final
showdown between Agent Smith and Neo can’t resolve the fact
that basically the entire setup means nothing in the midst of an
easy-way-out realization.

Worst of all, both the Morpheus and Trinity characters lose any
significance they had attained previously. Morpheus’
prophetic persona is scrapped for a simply human and unimportant
role, and Trinity, after saving Neo from Mobil Ave, basically only
serves the purpose of flying Neo where he must go. Somehow Naobi
(Jada Pinkett Smith), in a totally useless flight/chase sequence,
literally becomes the driving force, and although it might signify
humanity in a unified plight, removing any semblance of a main
character during the Zion war frustratingly slows the pacing of
what should be a tense fight.

Unworthy of the canonical status attained in 1999, “The
Matrix Revolutions” is a dismal, disappointing end to a
trilogy that began with amazing promise and potential. Maybe the
highly discussed and debated iconography made it an inevitability,
but the closing chapter to the incredibly complex original
“Matrix” achieves exactly the opposite of what it was
meant to be: an average, utterly unoriginal product of
studio-system cinema.

Rating: 2 stars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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