The Matrix trilogy (which is an incorrect term as of today in cinemas!) comes to a close with what is undeniably a bit of a let-down. While I’ll admit watching it for this review I actually liked it more than I remembered it’s still full of flaws that just weren’t present in the previous two entries. Still, with a fourth film now out, how does the old final film in the series stand up? Let’s find out!
While Neo’s mind is trapped in between the Matrix and the Machine World the other survivors begin to plot a course back to Zion in order to help defend it against the on-coming machine army…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
Trinity and Morpheus do a great job of expressing “subtle confusion”.
There are some good bits and ideas thrown around. The opening quarter sees Neo (Keanu Reeves) stuck in a void that looks like a train station that’s apparently a line between The Matrix and the Machine City’s mainframe, so it’s where they send new programs and code and such. It’s one more fun computer analogy for the series! Neo meets a “family” of programs looking for asylum in The Matrix, but they’re unable to help him. Eventually Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) have another shoot-out with the Merovingian’s (Lambert Wilson) men and eventually convince him to let them free Neo by pointing a gun at his face, though why he didn’t just wait until she put the gun away to go to the station and then strand her and Morpheus there I don’t know.
Anyway, this allows Neo to wake in the real world and everyone can begin scheming as to how to beat the Machines, though Neo wants back in so he can talk to the Oracle again (The Oracle in played by Mary Alice here as her original actress died in between filming. It’s actually explained as a thing programs can do, so it still works!). He reaches her and is told about the Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) virus assimilating everything and how even the Machines don’t know how to stop it from conquering both The Matrix and then the Machines themselves. Shortly after Neo leaves a bunch of Smiths arrive and create a super-Smith by assimilating the Oracle.
Full credit to Ian Bliss for his Smith impression, it was surprising it took Neo so long to figure everything out! … Well, I guess the idea of a computer virus taking over a human would be quite a big conclusion to jump to…
We then get a long series of sequences in the real world which are mostly not-very-interesting CG fests (see below!) but I do enjoy one particularly showdown. In the previous film Smith managed to assimilate a real human named Bane (Ian Bliss) and therefore enter the real world in his body, and as Neo and Trinity head to the Machine City on their own mission they are confronted by him, with Neo and Smith fighting each other in the real world which means less acrobatics and super powers and more brutality. Neo ends up blinded but Bane-Smith ends up dead. Due to his “One” powers Neo can see Machine technology so he’s not completely blind, which is… good, I guess. Either way it’s a good fight if only to show the difference between the two realities.
The only other thing of note is the ending, which may also be a CG fest but in this case it’s a fun one. Neo is plugged back into The Matrix, which now seems to be comprised entirely of Smiths, by the head of the Machines known as “Deus Ex Machina” (yes, really…) after they negotiate a peace deal should Neo succeed. The Super-Smith and Neo do battle in a fight that often resembles Dragon Ball Z more than The Matrix, but it’s good fun. In the end Neo allows himself to be assimilated so Deus Ex Machina can directly inject an anti-virus program that wipes the Smiths out and reboots the Matrix. We then get an ending with The Oracle and the Architect (Helmut Bakaitis) who discuss the new peace treaty between man and machine that allows anyone who wishes to be pulled from the Matrix to be allowed to escape. Though he ominously asks how long she really thinks the peace will last…
The Zion mech squad! How did they find the time and resources to build all those and why didn’t put that effort towards something more effective? We’ll never know!
If you read my review of Reloaded you would have read me saying that this film falls flat because people generally like the bits in the actual Matrix over the stuff in the real world and that this film spends so much time out of the Matrix that it’s not as interesting, and that’s still the case I’m afraid. There is a moment where Neo and Trinity are trying to arrive at the Machine City but are assaulted by, well, Machines and break up above the perpetual stormy clouds and into the bright sunlight that’s still visually appealing, but other than that, it’s not. That scene by the way leads into them crashing into a building and Trinity being impaled but sadly I feel neither Keanu nor Carrie-Anne pull off the tearful death scene very well and it just kind of feels cheesy and awkward.
Given its status as an underground steampunk city Zion is rather depressing visually, so spending so much time there just isn’t very stimulating. Even when the Machines pour in and begin fighting the humans in mech-like suits it’s just dated CGI gun fire and characters you’ve either only just been introduced to or don’t particularly care about risking their lives or dying. Eventually Morpheus and the other survivors arrive after a pretty decent though again dated-looking “skilled pilot guides a craft through a tight tunnel” sequence and detonates an EMP blast that knocks out the Machines, or at least the ones in the nearby area. Then then prepare for a final showdown at the temple but Neo’s deal means the Machines eventually leave.
We get no actual pick up in Zion after that, just Morpheus assuming Neo did it and everyone immediately thinking that meant peace forever and so they begin celebrating until we cut away. Not that I’m that sad about not having more Zion sequences but I do feel we should have gotten a bit more… something. Anything. At least show Commander Lock (Harry Lennix) admitting his spending the last two films saying how relying on Neo and the prophecy of the “The One” was nonsense was maybe incorrect in the long run (not that anyone could blame him, to be fair…) Instead we just cut to Neo’s body being carried away in the Jesus cross position (one more on-the-nose analogy!) and then straight to the previously mentioned final scene in the Matrix.
Funnily enough Smith, with his control over the Matrix, intentionally made it rain for… ambiance, I guess?
The Matrix Revolutions is half a fun film, half a pretty boring dated-CG fest. There are things to like in the opening moments as well as the final showdown but the other hour and a half in the middle is either dull or visually unappealing CG bullet-fest scenes… or both, I guess. Still, we now know this isn’t how The Matrix series of films goes out, so fingers crossed Resurrections can pull the ending back and give us something more satisfying.