The third and final chapter of The Matrix trilogy.
The Matrix Revolutions starts right after the events of “Reloaded”, where Neo (Keanu Reeves, “John Wick Chapter 2”) is in a coma from destroying a massive amount of enemy sentinels with just his mind, surviving along side Neo is a manifestation of agent Smith (Hugo Weaving, “Mortal Engines”), also in a coma, who has now made it into the real world. The fate of Zion and humanity lies in the choices of Neo and in the city where the captains and soldiers must make their final stand against a machine army, as the Oracle says in the beginning, "win or lose the war ends tonight." The Matrix Revolutions brings the trilogy to its final conclusion.
An unsatisfactory, messy, and ugly conclusion.
As the events of Revolutions unfold, I found myself quickly asking, "Is this still a Matrix movie?" It starts with intrigue, with Neo being left in limbo, between the Matrix world and the real world; a cool concept that is poorly executed. To get out of this limbo stage Neo must find the "Train Man" (Bruce Spence, “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”). It seems the Wachowskis spent as much time with that name as they did with developing this “in between” world. Neo gets back to the real world and then the Train Man never comes back into the narrative; it's as if the writers were required to get this thing past the two hour mark as to give it an epic ending. But why introduce the audience to new characters in the concluding chapter of a trilogy? Unless they're minor and previously introduced in other installments it's probably best to keep up with the established ones. But seeing as the previously established characters have all just about completed their archs there's very little appeal in watching them. We've known Morpheus' purpose is to see Neo through his prophecy, we've established the love connection between Trinity and Neo so every sappy moment, which is the entire first hour, is gag inducing and boring. There's nothing new for our characters to do other than wait for the impending battle, so for that first hour the audience is given loads of exposition on the sentinels, and we get glimpses of the Smith agents, just as sinister and silly as ever, but it all feels irrelevant. The Wachowskis had enough ideas for a movie and a half and what we're left with are the rushed remnants of what could have been a solid science fiction trilogy.
I get trying new things in films, experimentation is a wonderful thing, and for better or worse the Wachowskis do experiment a lot in their films. Really, the first installment of this franchise was their experiment, after that success they should have taken a breath, but instead they kept on experimenting and lost control. They should've have fine tuned what they'd already created rather than have it stray so far off it's original path. There are only two sequences where Neo is in the Matrix in this third Matrix film; it's almost as if the Wachowskis thought the audience would be bored with the Matrix world, but they couldn't have been more wrong. In “Return of the King” we don't leave Middle Earth to have the final battle in the Grey Havens; in “Return of the Jedi” we don't leave the wars in the stars and finish our final fight on some lush green planet. So why would we want to spend the last hour of this film in the boring human city of Zion? Yes, the world building of the second film was fun and that expanding the viewers knowledge of Zion, and the mix between real world and cyber world was well balanced. That should’ve been obvious: keep the threat of the real world trapped in the confines of the cyber world. Instead we bring the threat into the real world with the manifestation of Smith, who blinds Neo (just for the sake of metaphor) but is taken out with relative ease and is never seen again. This film is so focused on getting to the finish line that it completely forgets what it was supposed to be. No more do we see pods of humans being used as batteries, instead we must sit through a final battle so long and loud that it hardly resembles what it once was. If “Reloaded” was an above-par science-fiction/action movie, then “Revolutions”resembles a high-budget Syfy Channel Original Movie.
The pacing is something else in this film. It's purely abysmal. The Wachowski’s tried to give us a slow burn lead up to the ultimate battle, but the dialogue is so stale, the narrative flows and beats are nearly non existent, and the inclusion of anything interesting to move the first half on it's way is nearly absent. We get one strange shoot out where the best trick the enemy has up their sleeves is the ability to walk upside down on the ceiling. Our heroes take care of these baddies with ease; there's no cryptic villains like the twins in this one, just humans taking on machines. When the final battle finally takes place, it's a good looking mess, even a glorious mess if you will. The soldiers of Zion fight the sentinels with giant mech suits, shooting their limitless bullets into the ceiling where the machine enemy has breached, there's a bunch of close up screaming shots which get humorous the more they happen, and they happen frequently, the special effects are significantly better than “Reloaded” even though the two films were filmed back to back; it's clear what they saved their money for. While the battle in Zion is actually a pretty fun one- albeit battle fatigue does set in- there's enough bloody deaths to keep one engaged for a bit. It's the other final battle that really turns this film into the generic, if not less than generic movie. The battle between Neo and agent Smith takes place about halfway through the Zion battle, just as the sentinels are about to close in on the humans, Neo makes a deal with a giant baby face leader made out of thousands of sentinels, yes you read that right, and yes it's just as stupid as it sounds. The deal Neo makes with the Machines is for peace; if Neo is able to destroy the agent Smith virus, which has apparently become sentient. The battle itself is visually pleasing but on a whole it doesn't make any sense. In “Matrix Reloaded” Neo is able to take on hundreds of Smiths without much of a problem, but here in this battle the many Smiths are just soccer moms watching the game play out from the sidelines. The battle is full of sonic booms and crashing buildings, and it's pretty obvious who the winner will be. It's a wholly unsatisfying climax that leaves the viewing wanting to revisit the first two much more entertaining films.
I don't think anyone was expecting this third film to be as stellar as the first movie, but I also don't think anyone was expecting it to be the mess that it turned out to be. “Revolutions” couldn't even match the toned down but entirely fun “Reloaded”, instead it opted to be a generic Sci Fi thriller with little to no real value other than to give this trilogy an ending. The ideas are first draft at best, and it's clear the Wachowskis ran out of Matrix magic a movie and a half ago, but Revolutions still keeps chugging along, without any revelations or cathartic conclusions. It's a mad dash to the end with plenty of filler and exposition, lacking most of anything that made the first two installments what they were. I shouldn't be craving more Matrix in my Matrix movie. It's a good looking film with a few cool action sequences, but at just a little over two hours it feels bloated, as if this tired final film had ran its course from the opening credits. I'm saddened by how this film turned out, it only leaves me thinking of what could've been a great trilogy, but was lazily produced and rushed to make the ticket sales. Fifteen years has not been kind to this already poorly received final chapter, and it remains one of the most disappointing endings to a trilogy that I've had the displeasure to watch.
I give The Matrix Revolutions 2 stars out of 5.
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