Should I Watch..? 'The Matrix Revolutions'
What's the big deal?
The Matrix Revolutions is an action sci-fi film released in 2003 and is the third and final part of The Matrix trilogy. Filmed concurrently with The Matrix Reloaded, the film was released just six months after the second part and details Neo's attempts at ending the war with the machines with the fate of mankind hanging in the balance. The film's ensemble cast includes Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Laurence Fishburne and Jada Pinkett-Smith while Mary Alice takes over from the late Gloria Foster as the Oracle. Unlike the first film, the film was met with a mostly negative response from critics and the film's global takings of $427 million were almost half that of its predecessor. It is generally considered the weakest of the three Matrix films and something of an anti-climax.
What's it about?
With the digital Neo stranded in a deserted subway station as a prisoner of the Merovingian, it falls to Morpheus and Trinity to attempt a rescue. Neo himself is plagued by visions of the nightmarish Machine City and once released, visits the Oracle for meaning. She tells him that the rogue Agent Smith is trying to destroy both the Matrix and the real world and that the war must end. Shortly after Neo leaves, the Oracle is assimilated by a group of Agent Smith's clones which allows Smith her gift of precognition.
In the real world, the last human city of Zion is under attack from thousands of Sentinels. Determined to end the war, Neo and Trinity set off for Machine City on board the Logos while Morpheus and Niobe co-ordinate Zion's defences against the machines. But the Logos also carries a third passenger - Bane who has been unknowingly assimilated by Smith, allowing the Agent to access the real world and put Trinity and Neo in real danger...
The Wachowskis *
Release Date (UK)
5th November, 2003
What's to like?
The film wisely sticks to the tried-and-tested formula of using CG in ways that few other film-makers have considered. Each of the Matrix movies has a reliance on CG and this final entry is no exception with the series trademark blend of kung-fu, gun play and slow-motion jumps present and correct. And for once, it isn't just confined to the Matrix - Zion is a vast sprawling warren of tunnels and walkways populated by untold thousands, all of whom arming themselves in preparation for the huge number of Sentinels burrowing down towards them.
The Matrix itself, now basically at the mercy of Agent Smith, has mutated into a rain-soaked arena ready for the final inevitable punch-up between Smith and Neo and the fight itself is both suitably climatic and apocalyptic. The Battle for Zion is also a triumph of special effects, throwing you headfirst into a near constant stream of action and war-movie clichés. So turbulent are these scenes that you feel physically drained afterwards. Action fans won't leave disappointed.
- The film received an unprecedented simultaneous release in major cities across the world - 6am in LA, 9am in New York, 2pm in London, 5pm in Moscow, 11pm in Tokyo and 1am in Sydney as well as 50 other cities.
- Look carefully in the scene when Trinity and Morpheus are chasing the Trainman - an advert of Tastee Wheat can be seen, as mentioned in dialogue by Mouse in The Matrix.
- The last scene of the film is the only time in the entire trilogy that blue sky and greenery are seen together in the same shot.
What's not to like?
Almost everyone else will, sadly. The story gets so caught up within its own mythology that casual viewers haven't a hope in hell of understanding what's going on - even viewers who have stuck with the series since the beginning will struggle to keep up. Why did the Wachowskis have to muddy the waters so much with their fortune-cookie philosophy and turn what should have been a stunningly realised action sci-fi film into a movie that leaves more unanswered questions than it should? The first film's trick was not burrowing too deeply down the rabbit hole - what the two sequels failed to do was provide enough answers to satisfy the viewers craving them.
The Matrix Revolutions also spends far too long in the real world, concerning itself with the Battle of Zion and Neo's journey to Machine City. Who wants this from a Matrix movie - where's the joy and wonder evoked by that lobby shootout or the Dojo scene from the first film? What's worse, the cast seem to have given up on the material as if they themselves don't fully get it - Reeves feels like his usual robotic self, Fishburne is a pale shadow of his cryptic Morpheus and only Weaving looks to be having any fun as the increasingly omnipotent Smith. Characters aren't as well defined as I'd like - both Trinity and Niobe come across as little more than love interests for the main characters while the ever-growing list of characters never feel like actual people - assuming that they even are people in the first place and not computer programs. The only thing that reigns supreme during this movie is confusion.
Should I watch it?
Die-hard fans will want to see how the story ends, providing they can get their hands around the virtually unfathomable plot. But they will leave disappointed - The Matrix Revolutions is a well-made but laboured entry in the series and simply doesn't provide the sort of conclusion you hope it might. Devoid of the wonder, thrills and hope the first film had, this is a depressing and joyless wallow in special effects and the lack of any sort of decent story reduces the film's appeal even further. Not the ending the Wachowskis were hoping for, sadly.
Great For: action fans, CG artists
Not So Great For: anyone who hasn't seen the other two films, fans of the first film, technophobic luddites
What else should I watch?
Like so many other trilogies before it, the old rule about the first film being the best is as true here as it's ever been. The Matrix is a genuinely ground-breaking picture, marking the dividing line between old-school action films reliant on stunts and pyrotechnics like Die Hard and Commando and those of the 21st century, heavily reliant on CG effects and improbable kung-fu moves. Its influence can be seen in a number of films like Equilibrium, Kick Ass, Wanted and even Charlie's Angels but none have gotten close to the quality seen in The Matrix.
Although nothing like as disjointed as this final film, The Matrix Reloaded offers a mind-numbing mix of excessive characters with little explanation, excessive plot with little exposition and action sequences to satisfy the hunger of those who fell in love with the style of the first film. But it's bloated and confusing, especially as the Wachowskis begin peeling back the surface to unveil the workings behind the Matrix, as if two sets of realities wasn't enough. It's watchable but nothing like as enjoyable as the first film.
© 2016 Benjamin Cox