The Matrix Revolutions (2003): ***½
Directed by The Wachowski Brothers
In all fairness, I can see how a lot of people
really are not going to like this movie. I however am not one of
those people. It is not the perfect film that I was hoping for,
but this is a movie that I like despite itself. I liked
everything that I saw happening in this film. I just wish that wasn't
all that happened.
In reviewing this movie I can't help but give stuff
away, so don't read if you don't want to know.
At the end of Reloaded
Neo was given a choice:
- Go through one door, and the Machines will kill
everyone in Zion, but everyone in the Matrix will be able to be
kept alive because the equation of "The One" will be
reintegrated into the Matrix. You'll be able to free a handful
of people and have them found another Zion. Thus the human race
will not be extinguished.
- Go through the other door, and the Matrix will
start to break down so that in a handful of hours everyone within
it will be killed and the Machines will still kill everyone
in Zion, thus ending the human race.
Neo of course chose the second door because otherwise
Trinity would have been killed. Whereas most of the "Ones"
loved humanity in just a general way (agape) and therefore all logically
chose not to extinguish the human race, Neo experienced it in a
direct way with one person: Trinity (eros).
Well, now Neo's in a pickle. He has to find a way
to save both Zion and the Matrix.
As Revolutions opens Neo is in a coma, but somehow
he has been jacked into the system without being physically connected.
Did he do this himself? Did the Merovingian do it? How exactly did
As my brother says, "It's okay to have unanswered
questions in a movie, but not when those questions are what
the hell is going on!?"
This seems to be a problem with this film that
the brothers didn't have with the other two: lack of explanations.
Things happen and it seems like we're supposed to know why, but
there is absolutely no explanation at all. The only two we get are
both half-assed. How is Smith so powerful all of a sudden? He's
Neo's opposite. How is Neo able to bust up machines in the real
world? He's tapped into the Source. Okay, but how did both of those
answers come to be? We're left with answers but no explanations.
It's like giving somebody the answer to a really complicated math
equation but not telling them the steps that were used to come up
with that answer. We're satisfied that that is indeed the
answer, but we don't know why that's the answer.
Anyway, Neo is trapped in a loading program that
the Merovingian has setup so that programs that were slated for
deletion (because they serve no useful purpose) can escape to the
Matrix and hide. Morpheus, Trinity, and Seraph go in and after a
pretty standard and uninvolving action scene get the Merovingian
to release him. Before he leaves the Matrix, Neo visits the Oracle
for some information (and gets those only-answer answers that I
mentioned up above). It is also basically stated that Smith himself
is the thing that is going to destroy the Matrix (is this what the
Architect was referring to at the end of Reloaded? Again,
no real answer), and that unless Neo can stop him everything is
pretty much screwed.
So while everyone else tries to get back to Zion
to stop the Machines from killing everybody, Neo and Trinity go
straight to the top—the Source at the Machine City.
This sets up easily the best part of the film:
The Battle of the Docks. I have truly never seen anything like this
in any film ever. It is simply breathtaking, exciting, harrowing,
fascinating, and wonderful. The sight of the sentinals pouring down
out of the hole in the ceiling like a mass of liquid was simply
shocking in its awesomeness. I loved every second of it, and fortunately
it is the main bulk of the movie.
Meanwhile Neo and Trinity are jumped by Bane, who
you'll remember was infected by Smith during Reloaded.
I have to give the actor who played Bane (I forget his name) an
enormous amount of credit here. He doesn't look much like Smith,
he doesn't have the same voice, but by god he is Smith,
down to the last mannerism and quirk of speech. It was incredible.
Smith blinds Neo in a very painful way, but losing his eyes frees
Neo to be able to actually see the Machines. How exactly does that
work? See my earlier comments.
Nevertheless, Neo uses his ever-increasing power
over the machines to fight his way to the city. They crash and Trinity
dies, which makes sense. She was Neo's only real link to humanity.
The last film ended the way it did because of Neo's love for her.
Now that she's gone, will Neo still be able to choose love?
Neo makes a bargain with a big giant face made
of Sentinals: If Neo destroys Smith, the Machines will stop trying
to kill off the humans; The Machines will make peace in the real
world. The machines agree and jack him into the Matrix, where Neo
faces Smith (the Smith who absorbed the Oracle and therefore has
all her oracular powers) in the final showdown. It seems that the
brothers watched a lot of Dragonball Z before choreographing
this fight, because it has a very similar (although much
faster-paced) flow to it. Even though the CGI sometimes shows through
too much (and sometimes seems completely unnecessary; there were
several scenes of CGI characters that had me thinking, "why
didn't they just use wires and a bluescreen for this? It would have
looked a lot better"), the rain effects are incredible and heavenly.
Here's a question I have: Why wasn't Neo able to
defeat Smith in this fight? At the end of the first film it seems
that Neo has godlike powers; he can bend the reality of the Matrix
to the force of his will. In the second film he didn't seem quite
as powerful; he could just fly and move really quickly and stop
bullets. In this film he seems to be reduced to just being able
to fly. Where did all of his power over the Matrix go? Is it because
Smith has control over the Matrix now that makes it so Neo doesn't?
Again, see my earlier gripe about unanswered questions.
Indeed, Neo can't defeat Smith in hand-to-hand
combat. Smith soundly trounces him again and again (even though
Neo gets in some really good shots). Here comes the crux of the
entire trilogy, though: Smith asks Neo why he keeps fighting when
it's completely obvious that he can't win. Neo responds, "Because
I choose to." It's not destiny. It's not predetermination.
Neo has one thing that the Machines will never have: free will.
Now that Neo is freed from his love of Trinity (eros) by her death,
he is able to fight purely for his love of humanity (agape).
Smith on the other hand, being Neo's opposite,
has no free will. In a shocking scene, Oracle Smith uses his powers
and says, "I've seen this before." He then goes on to
say a few things, and then gets a horrified look on his face, blurting
out, "Why did I just say that!?" It's because he has no
free will. He is merely programmed to do what he is doing with no
chance of escape. And now that he has the Oracle in him, he's forseen
In a fury Smith assimilates Neo, and here's where
my brother's cry of "What the Hell is going on!?"
becomes most prevelant. Smith assimilates Neo and suddenly all Smiths
explode. Why? WHY? There is absolutely NO explanation.
The answer to the question is "Neo wins." But the explanation
of that answer is...?
There is none. It could be that in joining with
his opposite Smith cancels himself out. It could be that in absorbing
Neo, Smith gains the free-will of Neo and that... um, somehow destroys
all of him. It could be that when he is absorbed, Neo uses his powers
to destroy all the Smiths from the inside. It could be that Neo's
love destroys Smith's nihilism. But it's all speculation. Imagine
if at the end of Return of the Jedi you didn't get to see
the Millenium Falcon and the X-Wings fly into the heart of the Death
Star and destroy the reactor core. Imagine that you see them fly
towards the Death Star, then after Luke takes care of the Emperor
and flies away with Darth's corpse we see the Millenium Falcon and
the X-Wings flying away from the Death Star and it explodes behind
them. We can speculate that, yes, they did destroy the reactor core,
but there's no way to know for certain what happened.
The last we see of Neo, his apparently dead body
is being carried reverently away, christ-like, into the heart of
the Machine City. Then we see the newly-restored Matrix (there's
an awesome part where we watch the Matrix re-render itself back
to a pristine state from Smith's desolation), and The Architect
and the Oracle have a conversation in which it is revealed that
anyone who wants to leave the Matrix now will be freed.
You know, in thinking back upon the last two Matrix
movies, I can't help but think that there is one major thing missing
from them: the human element. The first Matrix movie was in effect
the story of a regular guy becoming a god. The second two movies
are all about the strivings and machinations of these gods. They
miss the human touch that was present in the first film. Insanely
impossible things have been happening over the past six months.
Neo has been flying all over the place. Insane fights have been
happening. And now a man is replicating himself by touching other
people. What is this like for the people in the Matrix who think
that this is all real? We never know. At some point we stopped being
presented with the poor saps jacked into the system and were only
privy to the motives and movements of free people and programs.
I would have loved to have seen a news broadcast or regular people
going about their business and trying to make sense of what was
happening around them as their world (literally) starts to come
apart. These are the people over whom the gods are fighting after
all. Even at the very end when we learn that they now have free
will it is not from observing them, but from having two gods (Architect
and Oracle) offhandedly mention that anyone who wants out of the
Matrix will be let out. The only people we get to see in this film in the Matrix
are partiers at the Merovingian's place. The rest is gods and monsters.
Imagine if Return of the Jedi had ended
with the Death Star blowing up, and then you see Lando cheer and
then immediately the credits rolled. Revolutions just needed two
more minutes of explanations and revelations to completely close
But despite all these gripes I cannot take away
the fact that I had an incredibly good time watching and experiencing
this film. It is at times truly awe-inspiring, and an incredible
filmmaking achievement. It consistenly took my breath away with
the scope and realization of its vision, and that to me makes it
worthwhile. It just doesn't quite seem like that's the end of the
story is all.
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