The Matrix Revolutions (R) ★½

Review Date: November 5th, 2003

The Matrix trilogy is so named for a reason: The most compelling aspect of the movies is what happens--or doesn't happen, or seems to happen--in that way-cool, computer-generated space. Unfortunately, in Revolutions, the characters spend even less time in that titular construction than they did in Reloaded, and the result is a far less interesting, less mind-bending movie than the original.


When Revolutions opens, Neo (Keanu Reeves) is in an unfamiliar train station, a ''nowhere'' between Zion and the Matrix. It looks like we're in for a brand-new head trip--a pretty cool one--and the first act of Revolutions is every bit as good as The Matrix, perhaps because it makes so many allusions to that film: We revisit the Oracle's kitchen (albeit with a new Oracle in Mary Alice), where she's baking cookies for a little girl, chain smoking and handing out prophesy. She and Neo lay out the plot for the trilogy's conclusion as concisely as two people speaking in riddles can manage: The Architect (whom we don't see until the end of the movie), is trying to ''balance the equation'' created by Neo (who is a programmatic anomaly). As a result, Agent Smith's (Hugo Weaving) power and number are growing exponentially, both within the Matrix and--if you recall the conclusion of Reloaded--inside Zion. To save the last human city, the Oracle will have to make some sacrifices, and Neo will have to ''return to the source''--the Machine City where it all began.


The trouble comes for Revolutions when Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) pull Neo from the Matrix and return with him to Niobe's hovercraft. From there, the movie largely abandons the four main characters as Trinity and Neo leave in one ship for Machine City, while Morpheus and Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) leave in another for Zion, where the last stand against the machines is beginning. This leaves us with exactly zero characters we care anything about during the ensuing way-too-long siege of Zion, which results in about zero emotional investment for a good three-fifths of the movie. There's more action than acting in these interminable battle scenes, and many of the new minor Zionites seem custom-created for heroic death scenes. The dorky Transformer-like APUs (Armored Personal Units) don't help, and watching more swarming sentinels than you can shake a machine gun at gets old after awhile.


It may be metaphysically necessary for writers/directors/producers Andy and Larry Wachowski that Zion be less cool than the Matrix. Grim reality is rarely as entertaining as fantasy, and that's probably the point. Like in a world defined by Thomas Hobbes, the events in Zion are nasty and brutish, but they are not, regrettably, short. By the time we finally make it back into the Matrix for the final duel between Agent Smith and Neo--the showdown that could bring peace to the planet and end the revolution forever--we've lost the thread. Why are we here again? Oh, right. Love. Yes, love. Neo so loved the world and all that…and because ''everything that has a beginning has an end.'' The question is, how does one end a trilogy when the whole thing's been based around the idea that nothing is what it seems? Audiences likely expect the kind of conclusion that lets you draw your own conclusions based on your experience of all that's gone before. Unfortunately, that's not what Revolutions delivers. Instead, what begins well ends so predictably that it's hard to believe it came from the minds that created the Matrix franchise. Maybe that's the Wachowskis' idea of a twist.

Bottom Line

Revolutions is more action flick than either of its predecessors. While that may spell big box office, it doesn't spell long-term staying power, and of the three films in The Matrix trilogy, the final installment may well go down as the biggest disappointment of them all.