(Originally posted 11/13/03)
I finally saw The Matrix Revolutions and, despite my total lack of interest, thought it was better than this past summer's The Matrix Reloaded. Of course, since I thought Reloaded was an underwhelming muddle of philosophical mumbo jumbo and lifeless CGI nonsense, that's hardly high praise.
What's so surprising about this final installment in the Wachowski Brothers' trilogy is its disregard for many of the issues raised by its predecessor. At the end of Reloaded, Neo learns from the Architect (an erudite, unintentionally funny windbag intent on didactically lecturing our hero) that his revolutionary quest to destroy the machines might actually be a part of the Matrix's program. The implication -- that the Matrix planned for Neo's transformation into superhero messiah -- added another dimension to the series' lynchpin "what's reality and what's fantasy" mystery. Yet here we are in the final chapter, and it's as if none of Reloaded's laborious pontification even mattered. Instead of answers, what we get is a fairly straightforward series of cliffhangers, as Neo attempts to reach the machine city and, finally, does battle with Agent Smith; meanwhile, Morpheus and Niobe (a spunky Jada Pinkett Smith, making something out of nothing) attempt to help defend Zion from the coming horde of squid-like machine invaders.
Zzzzzz. I must admit the Wachowskis produce some truly stunning images during Zion's last stand - one particular panoramic shot of a warrior fending off swarms of enemies while two men attempt to reach him with fresh ammo is a thing of comic book-inspired beauty. Yet none of the images are tied to anything remotely substantial. The film's pitiful Christ references seem obligatory rather than inspired, which also describes the film itself - Revolutions labors toward its inconclusive, wishy-washy finale with the tepid, predictable energy of a series bereft of original ideas. I can't say I missed the supercilious speeches about fate, choice, and destiny, but this film feels so devoid of thematic import that it's as if the Wachowskis had simply given up trying to turn their mildly interesting popcorn trilogy into some new-age biblical epic. Keanu Reeves' Neo and Carrie-Ann Moss' Trinity attempt to give the adventure a measure of passion, but their romance is as clichéd and stilted as the film's solemn wooden dialogue. The Matrix Revolutions is a depressed (and depressing) film, and, in the end, winds up being primarily notable for its drab, ponderous humorlessness.