THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS

1.5 Stars
Year Released: 2003
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 127 minutes
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No matter what other things spring to mind at the conclusion of “The Matrix Revolutions,” no matter what curses spring to your lips, what baffled incredulity your weary face may betray, viewers should be content with this singular fact: At least it’s all over.

One of the most unfortunate aspects of this conclusion to the Wachowski brothers’ epic of kung-fu sci-fi goobledygook is that for audiences to have even the faintest notion of what’s going on, they will have to have a very good memory of what actually transpired in the brothers’ previous assault on logic and taste: “The Matrix Reloaded.” Because, like “Kill Bill Volume 2”, “Revolutions” isn’t really a standalone film, it’s the second half of “Reloaded”, literally picking up about 5 minutes after that one left off. And since this is the chronicle of mankind’s battle against the machines that are hell-bent on the destruction/enslavement of the species, there’s quite a lot going on. But, as “Revolutions”, like “Reloaded”, has precious little imagination (quite shocking, considering what a mind-blower the first film was), not much of the plot is worth going into. Suffice it to say that Neo is in trouble, Trinity (or as Neo ridiculously insists on calling her, “Trin”) and Morpheus have to go to the Merovingian to help him out, and all the while, that last refuge of humanity, Zion, is about to be assaulted by legions of machines. Oh, and that pesky Agent Smith is still multiplying, virus-like, and threatening to take over the entire matrix, as well as the real world.

You wouldn’t think it would all be so ho-hum, and yet it most definitely is. An early scene in which Trin, Seraph (Sing Ngai) and Morpheus blast their way into the nightclub where the Eurotrash irritant the Merovingian is holding court, is pretty much par for the course. Good guys enter with guns drawn and sunglasses on, bad guys scatter and we go into super-duper-slo-mo. While the Merovingian’s guards are walking on the ceiling and the bullets fly (inevitably smacking into those pillars which the heroes of the Matrix films always have conveniently nearby to hide behind), Trin and her boys gun them down with little effort; meanwhile the audience is looking at their watches, wondering how long this is going to go on.

Later on, it’s off to the races, special-effects wise, in an initially impressive scenario where a band of rusty, Robotech-like armored units are all that stand between Zion and the ravening hordes of drilling machines and Sentinels flooding down from the surface. Although at first this epic-sized battle seems to be a sign of more amazing things to come (and it’s definitely better eye-candy than just about anything in the lamentably dull-looking “Reloaded”), but soon it bogs down in an endless cycle of blazing gunfire, exploding Sentinels and gritted-teeth dialogue straight out of a dogeared old “Sgt. Rock” comic. It isn’t long before you start hoping that the machines just take Zion out, to have it be over with.

Having abandoned all its marquee stars for the underground FX-bonanza, and squandered more time with the Oracle (played by a new actress, Mary Alice) “Revolutions” eventually brings us back to the big matchup: Neo vs. Agent Smith. Fortunately, both Neo and the filmmakers have realized it makes little to no sense (and causes no little amount of boredom) to have Neo battling the endless legions of Smiths, so he just fights one (“while the rest of me watches,” Smith cackles). The Wachowskis seem to have realized that their brand of weightless chopsocky has run its course, and so allow Neo and Smith to brawl in proper superhero fashion: flying through the air, slamming into each other, and throwing punches that should be accompanied by KAPOW! word balloons.

But ultimately it’s just another fight; the one interesting squib of dialogue in this windy, exhausting mess, in which a baffled Smith asks Neo why he would possibly keep fighting against such incredible odds (it just doesn’t compute), is ruined by Neo’s fatuous reply. Although “The Matrix” was always a great action movie, it never would have achieved the iconic status it currently holds if there hadn’t been something else to it, and the filmmakers forgot that. Once the Wachowskis dragged us down the rabbit-hole, they had nothing left to show, just hokum and ideas stolen from other films.

And it isn’t even truly over. “Revolutions”’s groan-inducing anti-climax is an end of sorts, but there is definitely plenty of room left open for a couple more films at least. But then, that’s the difference between humans and machines, right? We have free will; we don’t have to make sequels.
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Posted on November 6, 2003 in Reviews by
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