Published Nov 01, 2003Not with a bang, any startling revelations or an exhilarating sense of closure does The Matrix trilogy end but with a big, confused "what?" With the tagline "Everything That Has a Beginning Has an End," you would expect the third in the hugely successful series to pull out all the stops for its grand finale. And indeed it does, at least visually. But in terms of answering any of the questions posited by Reloaded, offering the twists of the first and addressing the problems of the second, you're shit out of luck.
And for those expecting a satisfying conclusion to a series that started off as one of the most innovative around and has lumbered towards the finish line, shedding the promise of the first with each successive step while spewing philosophical mumbo jumbo and dazzling audiences to the point of stupidity with excessive action, Revolutions is a big, bloated disappointment, more of a minor squabble than an uprising.
The premise of the third is all big final battles: the showdown between the rogue program Smith and the deity-like Neo in the Matrix; the battle between the last human city of Zion and the Machines on Earth. But it feels more Lucas (who the Wachowskis resemble more and more every movie in their fall from sci-fi geek grace, dazzling with special effects and CGI everything but lacking depth and being chocked full of cheese) than the intelligent carnage and measured pacing of Jackson (who, granted, has time-tested source material to conjure his characters out of).
Revolutions does have its moments, however. The battle for Zion between the Machines and the last free remnants of humanity is visually stunning, utterly overwhelming and incredibly cool, as a quarter-million Sentinels break through Zion's defences and an incredibly hectic last stand is mounted. Here, like Lucas, is where the Wachowskis now shine brightest, abandoning storytelling and philosophical examinations to concentrate on CGI-driven action, and it's pretty awesome.
Also, the shots of the Machine city on the Earth's surface are impressive, and the battle between Smith and Neo, while unfulfilling with its conclusion, has some awesome moments, like the bullet-time punch, for instance. But, no explanations for Neo's "powers" in the real world or Smith's ability to inhabit a real body are given, no light is shed on the Architect's muddled exposition of the second and no grand twist is unveiled at the end, even though it is so perfectly set-up to have the "real world" be yet another part of the Matrix. Hell, there isn't even that much philosophical blather this time around, as it seems the Wachowkis got it out of there system with Reloaded, as opposed to the original's intelligent twists, which actually made you think, instead of hurting your head.
In watching Reloaded and now Revolutions, it starts to feel like they're not even done by the Wachowskis, like the studio turned this great concept over to some lesser directors for the sequels who ran with the glitz but left out the meaning, but the fact that these were done by Larry and Andy, who achieved such great results in pacing, storytelling, surprises, etc. with The Matrix and their first effort, Bound, is beyond explanation.
Actually, despite the claim that The Matrix was conceived as a trilogy, after three movies, it's clear that it wasn't, as nothing set-up in the end of The Matrix is followed through in either of its sequels (wasn't Neo going to show the enslaved Matrix inhabitants a world without the machines?), and it proves that while one great idea can make an awesome movie, it can't be stretched to make three. (Warner)