The Matrix Revolutions Review

by Harvey S. Karten (harveycritic AT cs DOT com)
November 1st, 2003


Reviewed by: Harvey S. Karten
Grade: C-
Warner Bros./ Village Roadshow
Directed by: Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
Written by: Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Mary Alice, Monica Bellucci, Harry J. Lennix, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jada Pinkett Smith, Harold Perrineau Jr.
Screened at: Kips Bay, NYC, 10/30/03

    If you believe that the tag-line aphorism, "Every beginning must have an end," is on a plane with the insights of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Kant, then this final episode, "The Matrix Revolutions," will astonish you with its apercus about life, love, death, and what-have-you. If you believe that loud volume, furious physical activities and scenes of massive transformation of millions of dollars of machinery defines a great picture, then you will be positively awed by Andy and Larry Wachowski's "The Matrix Revolutions." If instead you believe that a work of science fiction should embrace an involving story, put into the service of saying something about life here on earth in the year 2003, then you'll be disappointed unless you think the concluding blather about world peace and its superiority to war and destruction merits high grades in the Heidelberg University Department of Philosophy. If, finally, you think that even a sci-fi pic can and should make ample room for an exploration of character and human relationships, then forget about "The Matrix Revolution." What passes for a relationship is the statement by a dying woman whose last wish is to have her main squeeze kiss her.
    Who's left for the Wachowski brothers' production to appeal to? Quite a large audience; most specifically, video game enthusiasts, people who believe that loud music and fireworks serve the good cause of giving the intellect a rest while feeding into their emotional lives. But volume and flashes do not an emotional movie make particularly in the absence of a single character with traits that are commonly associated with

    If you're the guy who missed the predecessors, "The Matrix" and "The Matrix Reloaded," you can safely jump right into the story knowing the following. Machines have taken control of the Earth. People like you and me are being used as batteries, giving energy to said machines. People, then, are now in captivity without realizing their enslavement, plugged into a computer program known as the Matrix. They think that they are actually alive and free when in fact they are fodder for the machines. (If this sounds something like Plato's Allegory of the Cave, wherein the vast majority of people think that their shadows cast by fire against the cave wall are real life rather than mere illusions, then OK. You're ready for the film's Meaning of Life lecture.)

    A few human beings, however, have not been captivated and remain free (something like the folks in Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451" who avoid the big TV screen and memorize books). Neo (Keanu Reeves), Morpheus (Laurence Fishbourne), and Neo's squeeze Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) are among them, determined to fight the power-mad Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), who is like a James Bond villain in that he is associated with no side, neither part of the machine world nor of the human dimension, and is hell-bent on dominating both sectors though his many cloned alter-egos seem unwilling in the final apocalyptic struggle to do more than watch. Squiddies, or worm-like entities by the millions, are just hours away from wiping out Zion.

    Fans of the trilogy have been anticipating the mother of all battles which would lead either to conquest of not only the human world but the empire of the machines by Agent Smith, or the dream of every contestant in the Miss America contest, world peace. With more glitz than sanity, not even one hundred Agents Smith or millions of worms give the audience the nourishment that comes from a credible story, or at least a story that's believable on its own terms. Quasi-religious terms are used without explanation, such as Zion representing the free human city of the good guys, or the Oracle (Mary Alice), which in ancient Greece always gave ambiguous answers so that it is never wrong but in the Wachowski imagination is...what? Just a woman who sets a bad example for the targeted theater audience by chain smoking and acting without emotions whenever questioned.

    Dialogue is spoken as though the participants were reciting Shakespearean lines at the Globe theater, but whereas Shakespeare was every bit as good a comic as a tragedian, the Wachowskis this time are entirely without a sense of humor.

    The picture is framed by Sati (Tanveer Atwal),a small girl who finds Neo in a subway station whose tiles are cleaner than those found in any Hilton hotel, wondering how he ever got where he was (not a bad question for Mr. Reeves to ask). After being threatened by a hairy guy with a bad teeth day, Neo is led through a series of adventures pitting the humans against both the machines and Agent Smith. At least one-half of this film is taken up with vid-game WOW effects, with more bullets flying (and missing targets) than were shot in World War 2, numerous shots of giant machine tumbling into the ground like weapons of mass destruction, and wide-eyed participants in Armageddon showing teeth amid more flashes of light than Francis Scott Key could imagine ever seeing.

    The actors should be credited with keeping absolutely straight faces throughout, not so difficult in a movie whose only humor of the unintentional sort. The bloated dialogue is kept to a minimum, perhaps after the Wachowskis received considerable criticism for the ponderous talk in "The Matrix Reloaded"

    The production notes state that the Wachowski Brothers have been working together for 30 years, their first feature was the film "Bound," and that little else is known about them. Now, that last clause would pretty much sum up "The Matrix

Rated R. 129 minutes.(c) 2003 by Harvey Karten at
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