Reeves demonstrates one of his many extraordinary facial expressions
in "The Matrix Revolutions."
Warner Bros. Pictures
Written and directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski
Produced by Joel Silver and Grant Hill
Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss,
Hugo Weaving, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tanveer Atwal, Monica Bellucci,
Mary Alice, Ian Bliss and Collin Chou
(out of four)
Andy and Larry Wachowski’s
“The Matrix” (1999) ended with an excellent extended
action sequence that seemed a bit empty after the reality-bending
first half of the film. This suggested that there were plenty more
territories to explore in the two following films, but “The
Matrix Revolutions” ends (hopefully) the series with more
action spectacle—which is indeed skillfully executed—than
The film is successful entertainment, but will likely disappoint
the fans who expect a bit more from the series that taught them
that the world is an illusion and can be manipulated.
While “The Matrix Reloaded,” which was shot at the same
time as “Revolutions” and released six months earlier,
started slow but eventually got going (if never reaching the first
film’s tension and pace), this one starts out intriguing and
then dives into almost tiring action.
Unlike “Reloaded’s” introductory detour in the
real world, “Revolutions” gets right into the matrix,
a simulation that looks like our modern world but is simply the
machines that now rule earth’s means to convert our energy
to power them.
Neo (Keanu Reeves), believed to be The One (his name’s an
anagram for it, after all) who can modify the matrix’s reality
and possibly free the enslaved humans, is unconscious on an operating
table after stopping real-world machines with a hand gesture at
the end of “Reloaded.” I’m happy to report the
reason for this isn’t that the real world is a second matrix
containing the known matrix. I’m a little hazy, however, on
how Neo stopped the machines. I guess his powers don’t merely
lie in the ability to understand the matrix, but machine life in
Neo’s nemesis, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), who learned to
replicate himself by taking over other bodies in the matrix, had
an apparent presence in the real world after replicating himself
in a rebel human who was plugged into the matrix, then came back.
That man is now also unconscious, in the same room as Neo.
Without plugging into the matrix, Neo finds himself in a train station
that serves as a link between the two realities and is used to smuggle
programs into the matrix, in this case the little girl of a male
program and a female program (don’t worry, it’s all
explained in crystal-clear “Matrix”-speak). The man
who controls it, the Trainman (Bruce Spence), is the god of that
world since it’s not the matrix, so Neo can’t get out
without his permission (even though he could stop machines in the
Upon the Oracle’s (Mary Alice, replacing the late Gloria Foster,
with an explanation, of course) advice, Neo’s mentor Morpheus
(Laurence Fishburne), girlfriend Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and
the Oracle’s protector search for Neo in the film’s
The Merovingian (Lambert Wilson), the French-loving phantom program
who is the best new character from the last two films, happens to
be in charge of the Trainman, and is still pissed at Neo and crew
from what they did to his place in the last film. His woman friend
Persephone, played by an unused Monica Bellucci, does even less
in this film than in “Reloaded,” as the Merovingian
only has one real scene.
The quest to enter the Merovingian’s hangout includes a shoot
out in which some gunmen make like Fred Astaire and stand on the
ceilings for better firing angles (or to look cool). These are the
sort of scenes that built “The Matrix,” but unfortunately
the film’s action turns a bit more conventional, while well-executed,
for a large portion of the film.
I had assumed that the many characters introduced in “Reloaded”
would be used wisely in this film, so it’s a bit disappointing
when the film enters into a big battle sequence instead of exploring
the interesting stuff.
The greatest misfire in the last two films is the enormous amount
of screen time given to Zion, the underground human city that fights
the machines. The Wachowski brothers created a clever race against
time by cross-cutting between the real world and the matrix in the
first film’s climax, but the two sequels suggest that at times
they forgot that the matrix is the real show.
The majority of the middle of the film stages a battle in which
the machines try to take over Zion and the humans defend themselves
with fancy sci-fi robot suits. While it follows a few personal stories
that attempt to give it emotional resonance, the battle tactics
and surprises drag because they have nothing to do with what made
“The Matrix” special. They’re simply war scenes—exciting
to watch, but without substance.
The only problem with the big fights and battles is that they tend
to run a little long, probably due to the increased budget that
allowed for more elaborate scenes. The length doesn’t necessarily
make it better, however, and there are several minutes of fighting
that are repetitive and could be cut.
It’s important to remember that even the first “Matrix”
was based heavily on action, and is more popular entertainment than
anything else. If the series has grown more convoluted and less
astounding, at least it contains more passion than the standard
Hollywood action film. Hopefully the Wachowski brothers, whose best
film remains their first, the independent work “Bound,”
will focus more thought and less spectacle into their next film,
as their promise goes beyond the action genre.