"Some things in this world never change," says brave pilot Niobe (Jada
Pinkett Smith) to ex-lover and co-pilot Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne),
"and some things do." She's not kidding. In the case of "The Matrix
Revolutions," the much-ballyhooed final chapter in writer-director-brothers
Andy and Larry Wachowski's wildly popular sci-fi trilogy, everythin
g that has changed has been for the worse. Stripped of the innovation
and wonder of 1999's "The Matrix" and the awe-inspiringly exciting
action setpieces of 2003's "The Matrix Reloaded," "The Matrix Revolutions"
is shockingly bad in almost every respect. Alarmingly diisastrous.
Mindnumbingly dull. A woeful, sloppy, misbegotten load of crap. In
other words, it makes its two predecessorsneither of which I actually
recommendedlook like examples of modern cinematic masterpieces in comparison.
Picking up directly where "The Matrix Reloaded" left off, "Revolutions"
finds the Machines' planned attack on the grimy industrial city of
Zion a mere twenty hours away. With Neo (Keanu Reeves) in a coma,
stuck somewhere between the real world and the matrix, Morpheus and
Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) pay a visit to the Oracle (Mary Alice)
in an attempt to garner the answers needed to find him. Meanwhile,
soldier pilot Niobe and her crew begin preparations for the wara world-changing
battle that the Oracle later assures Neo will, whether good or bad, come to an end.
Under the sickeningly pretentious, hack-induced helm of the Wachowski
brothers, that ending cannot come fast enough. The first halfeven
more than in "Reloaded"is dedicated to so much drawn-out, unnecessary,
needlessly complicated exposition that it quickly becomes both maddening
and laughable. While all the talk and questions posed in "Reloaded"
were also on the lengthy side, there was at least a semi-intriguing
air about the proceedings. "Revolutions" does nothing more than ask
a round of new convoluted questions, albeit mo re clumsily, and then
doesn't even bother answering most of them. In the grand scheme of
concluding trilogies, isn't that tantamount to blasphemy?
For all of its expository elements, viewers of "The Matrix Reloaded"
were repaid with two mindblowing action scenesa fight between Neo
and hundreds of clones of Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), and a tour de
force 14-minute highway chasethat boasted some of the more amazing
visual effects in filmmaking history. If only for roughly a half-hour,
"Reloaded" at least held the power to inspire, excite, and truly invigorate.
The two central action sequences in "The Matrix Revolutions"the extended
battle between Zion and the machines, and the climactic fight-to-the-death
between Neo and Agent Smith amidst the matrix cityscapeplay like rancid,
months-old leftovers. They are all flash and lightning, C-grade genre
imitations with nary an original idea or image in their noisy little
heads. Not only do they lack even the faintest form of excitement,
they are about as incoherent as they are emotionally sterile. You
sit in your seat staring at a screen with millions upon millions of
dollars projected upon it, and you simply are not for a second led
to care at all about anyone or anything onscreen. The situations are
often nonsensical, the characters are walking one-dimensional cliches,
and their motivations are frustratingly cloudy.
Keanu Reeves (2001's "Hardball") has ceased being cool as Neo and,
in the course of the series, has transformed him from oh-so-cool into
a thoroughly uninteresting, humorless deadweight. The same goes for
fellow leads Carrie-Anne Moss (2000's "Red Planet"), looking haggard
and distracted as Trinity, and Laurence Fishburne (2003's "Mystic
River"), whose originally badass role of Morpheus has become virtually
transparent. These three protagonists take everything so seriously,
and talk in such eternally solemn, hushed tones, that they have become
enormous bores. The only performers who try to inject anything different
into their scenes are Jada Pinkett Smith (2001's "Ali"), who in one
shocking moment actually smiles, and Mary Alice (2002's "Sunshine
State"), commendably taking over the role of the Oracle from the late
Gloria Foster. Alice offers real warmth, sympathy, and wisdom in her
scenes, which are close to being the only ones in the entire picture that work.
If, going into "The Matrix Revolutions," you expect to finally find
out what role internal controllers Merovingian (Lambert Wilson) and
Persephone (Monica Bellucci) ar e playing in the grand scheme of things,
or are waiting to discover who the Architect is, or plan on some great
truth about life or human nature arising, you are in for a rude awakening.
The Wachowski brothers started off "The Matrix" series with a visionary
first film that easily could stand on its own two feet, and have proceeded
to jerk its audience around ever since. The writing this time around
is haphazard, so long-winded and melodramatic it's difficult to believe
anyone could take it seriously, while the action setpieces are a bombastic
mess. As for the romance between Neo and Trinity, it has been so drained
of its passion and the characters' natural chemistry that it no longer
holds any value. The Wachowski's have clearly not thought out their
story satisfactorily, and have spent a ridiculous amount of time (three
films and seven hours, in fact) to tell what ultimately amounts to
a simple idea that could have been edited down to 100 minutes (for
a sterling example, check out 19 98's similar, grandly superior "Dark City").
"The Matrix Revolutions" is a really awful movie any way you look
at it. Whereas the original film held a joy and magic of storytelling,
a rare imagination, a sense of wonder, and an undeniable energy, even
amidst its many glaring flaws, "The Matrix Revolutions" is totally
exempt of these things. It's an eye-candy extravaganza without a pulse.
Copyright © 2003 Dustin Putman