November 13, 2003

The Matrix Revolutions

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The last time I was this excited for entertainment reasons, it involved dollar bills and whipped cream. At the end of a six-month countdown to The Matrix Revolutions’s release, preemptive critical bashing arose for the trilogy’s finale. Add to this unexpected sourness the weight of two mega-blockbusters and 4 long years of open-ended philosophies that have since inspired clashing interpretations. What you get is a third movie that is going to have an uphill battle in its quest to convincingly provide answers and closure. What is the deal with The Matrix? Please, Dan, pin the attraction! Well, I think it’s that this series is like the perfect girl — stunning, thought-provoking and yes, it provides lots of action.

The more this trilogy is considered as a whole, the more is at stake for this final installment. Reloaded introduced many more possibilities. Neo (Keanu Reeves) isn’t ‘The One,’ but rather a part of the whole program, his powers carry over to the “real world” and this is the sixth version of the matrix. Having dug “deeper into the rabbit hole,” the original film now seems miniscule in significance, as Reloaded soon will. Though both were groundbreaking, the first two peaks are dwarfed in their contributions to a resolution by this final chapter. Revolutions takes on the difficult task of pushing all the prophesied possibilities, religious metaphors, color-coded events and authenticity into one conclusive direction. “It is inevitable,” as Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving, who grew on me) says, these two hours make the last 4 years seem like a tease. Now if that’s not an intriguing date, I don’t know what is.

Sadly, Revolutions lags — no denying that. It is filled with romances involving characters that weren’t in the original and diversions from the badasses we paid to see. There is too much repetitive dialogue in Zion, but then again, we’re all used to machine-like stuff by now. Scenes in the city reeked of Attack of The Clones. While the city grew in importance with Reloaded, it is the actions of the original three (Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus) that the city and story ultimately depend on. Distractions and shapelessness make it hard to notice the subtle cues and messages that were more prevalent and fulfilling in the first two. After an hour, the imaginative shootout in Merovingian’s (Reloaded’s French dude) nightclub and an intra-consciousness that traps Neo are the only highlights.

On the eve of the war, Neo departs with his (aw) Trinity for Machine City, where the ‘sentinels’ are coming from. Only in Machine City does Revolutions exemplify the magical combination of brains and brawn that the first boasted and the second tweaked. Even the half-hour long colossal war in Zion is overshadowed by Neo’s showdown with Agent Smith — a one on one embodiment of everything the series has worked towards. The brawl begins on the ground, but it doesn’t stay there. It ranges through a building, and ends airborne amidst the heavens. This nocturnal struggle is an aggressive beauty that glows and grows in its importance as it brilliantly blurs the line between seeming opposites: humans and machines.

Throughout the film, Revolutions takes a step back, with distant shots and reliance on broad dialogue. Fortunately, the final segments are a saving grace for the opening ennui. It ends with a passionate closing that does the trilogy justice by answering many questions while leaving many alternate interpretations plausible. Reloaded bent our understanding. Revolutions makes us question what needs to be understood by delicately abandoning or connecting to a lot of what was developed beforehand. A lot of the time was spent tying up loose ends, and the film wasn’t as visually stimulating as expected, but in the end it got the job done.

The first time I experienced The Matrix, I was both impressed and confused. With Reloaded, I was twice as torn. Now, I have seen both quite a few times. Each viewing brings you closer to fully understanding the Wachowski Brothers’ multi-layered message. Is this one a success? In the words of Jeff Spicoli: “I don’t know.” Only time will tell, as I have many more questions than answers at this point. No film in this series has received universal acclaim, yet each makes a small country’s GDP at the box office. And in hindsight, they all seem to be perfectly constructed in story and sequence. So listen to Morpheus and “believe in the prophecy” that is this trilogy. While the third date with destiny is up in the air, the love affair I and my fellow nerds have had with The Matrix has been much more than the one-night stand that was the original. Disappointed? Not really. Satisfied? Maybe. I’m mostly just bummed it’s over. Niobe, one of the central characters in Revolutions, preaches, “It’s always nice to have something to look forward to.”

Jesus was she right.

Archived article by Dan Cohen