Back when I was thoroughly disappointed, though fairly entertained, by The Matrix: Reloaded, Matrix loyalists were not to be swayed. Not because of what I had to say (though perhaps because of that as well), but because according to them there was a sense in which reviewing Reloaded didnt count in the first place. Even if there were problems with Reloaded, it just didnt matter, because it would all get sorted out in Revolutions. Criticizing Reloaded was like criticizing half a movie without seeing the other half. Once Revolutions came along, and things could be reflected upon in their entirety, they assured me, all would be right with the world. That, it turns out, was a bad bet.
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The Matrix, as Ive said, was a wonderful bit of mental candy (as opposed to, lets say, an actual mental meal) thrust into an action-rich world. It was a nearly genius endeavor which latched onto, basically, idealism (the philosophical version), ran with it, and presented it in such a way that people could think fairly seriously about the question, and be refreshingly entertained at the same time. The Matrix: Reloaded ran out of ideas (and how could it not really, the idea was over with the first movie), and made the grave error of thinking it knew the answer to something, as opposed to just knowing really good questions. Since it didnt actually know any answers though, it had to just keep talking. Reloaded was the little monkey at a typewriter, but with an ego. Eventually something I say will be interesting, they call it the law of averages or something..., look at me go. But, there was some decent action, and I have to admit there were some entertaining moments. I would say that The Matrix: Revolutions ran out of ideas, but of course Ive already said wed run out before. No, what Revolutions does is just to chuck thinking altogether.
Where 'The Matrix' made a go at a philisophical point of dispute, 'Revolutions', apparently having nothing else to go on, is a ludicrously self-indulgent rehashing of the Bible, or at least the highlight reel from the Bible. As if it's not bad enough that the thing spit bits of New Testament at each other, it also throws in bits of other biblical rehashings. Sure, the Bible is really cool, but when Frank Herbert did it his Messiah was blinded, yet could still see. He could even see better, and (Oooo) in a 'different way'. Let's do that. So it is that 'Revolutions' has martyrdoms, gaping maws of hellfire, a blatant crucifixion reference, Philistines, a snooty Frenchman, and transforming robots.
Revolutions begins right where Reloaded left off (you dont remember where that is, do you?), sort of. Neo is in a sort of a coma, and it turns out he is in a place between The Matrix and the real world, although this is referred to as my world and your world. I suspect this is mainly because none of it makes a lick of sense, and it seemed that we could probably steamroll right over the place between my world and your world and people would just swallow it down, and we could move on. Whereas, if we said the place between The Matrix and the real world, someone might dip an eyebrow. Welcome to the world of Revolutions. If anything doesnt seem to make sense, youre in the right place. What can it possibly mean for there to be a place between The Matrix and the real world, what purpose does it serve, and how is it relevant to anything? The answer to all these questions is that we wanted to have a place where Neo could listen to a program talk about love. In the first few moments of the film Neo meets up with a program who has a wife and, I can hardly say it, the two of them have a child. A little girl program who is using this between place to escape from their world to The Matrix, where, I suppose, she can go on being a little girl program in the illusory reality that is The Matrix. This apparently saves the little girl program from being deleted..., because the movie says so.
Now, at this point you might be wondering what the hell Im talking about, and frankly, so do I. But, wait. Soon Morpheus, Trinity, and Seraph are on their way to see Merovingian because he controls the between place (seriously, you arent getting any more explanation from the movie than between place), and they need to get Neo out. Our by now normal, and thus pretty boring, stunts get them into Merovingians S&M nightclub, which exists because the Wachowskis always wanted to do a scene inside an S&M nightclub, and yadda, yadda, yadda, Neo is freed. Now were back on our ship where Bane is doing, I must admit, a really good Agent Smith impersonation.
At this point were about ten or twenty minutes into the movie, and for all intents and purposes theres about ten minutes left. The entire remainder of the film goes like this... One ship races back to Zion because they have the handy EMP that can disable the machines. Zion prepares for the arrival of the machines by getting ready hundreds of robotic exo-skeletons, because the Wachowskis played a lot of MechWarrior. Billions of rounds of ammunition are fired. Meanwhile, Neo takes the other ship to see the wizard of Oz, and then engages in a final battle with Agent Smith which makes no more sense than any of the fighting he did in the last movie. That's it.
Oh, theres other stuff along the way, but not much. In fact, the scene where Neo decides he has to take a ship isnt bad at all. It rather screams of drunk writers sitting around saying, Pfff..., I dont know. What do you want him to do now?, but its not bad. There is also a generous helping of attempted character development among the residents of Zion, all of which is completely meaningless and useless. We get to look at a lot of nifty-looking weaponry, and we get glimpses of life in Zion. All of which, of course, is designed only to look cool, and without the slightest thought toward any sort of internal consistency. These people in Zion can build this amazing retro-tech machinery, and live in a city that is not only underground but surrounded by a huge, concrete dome with massive portals, and they cant put their MechWarrior pilots in some sort of cockpit that might offer a tiny bit of protection? They can build ships that fly using some anti-gravity hovering whosit, and EMP generators, but they dont have hundreds of the bastards laying about, and havent devised a way to shield one generator from the pulse of another?
In the end, both sides are too strong for any of it to have any meaning. Zion has too much in their arsenal to be as afraid as they are, though they are not opposed in the least to saying that they are very scared over and over. But, since we want a really wicked battle we have to give it to them. To compensate for that, we have to give the machines even more. So now there are just billions of machines everywhere. So many that there isnt the slightest hope that the humans can survive, nor the slightest reason that the machines havent gotten rid of them long ago. It may look quite neat, but its all nonsense. Neat looking nonsense, as Grandpa used to say, is better than two in the bush, but not by much. Of course, we heard in our last episode that Zion does keep getting destroyed, and really the machines are in perfect control, slaughtering these rebels down to a tiny population that are left to rebuild, so the whole process can start over. How that makes any sense, however, isnt explained any more than any other piece of nonsense you might pick from the last movie.
And, dont forget, there is much along the lines of various characters spouting such things as Everything that has a beginning, has an end as though it were some Zen Koan, and we were all supposed to have some sort of epiphany. At the very end Neo makes a play at culminating all the choice garbage (and choice garbage), but by that point theres about as much thought going into things as youd find in the average AfterSchool special.
I freely admit to liking the first movie quite a bit. The second movie was disappointing, but kept me fairly entertained about it. At some point during Revolutions I realized that I had been watching The ship Morpheus is on races toward Zion, and we cut between this and the battle at Zion for going on an hour, and I couldnt think of myself as anything other than bored out of my mind.
It looked really great, certainly moved along far better than the last one, and had all the action and flash you could ever hope for. If you want to go at it as something in the same category as XXX, or The Fast and the Furious, have at it, and good luck. You wont be disappointed. If you want a movie to even pretend to make any sense, or have the slightest clue what its doing beyond really pretty effects, stay away from this one. I will say, however, that it did have really great music.
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