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  • The Matrix Revolutions (2003): ***½

    Directed by The Wachowski Brothers

    In all fairness, I can see how a lot of people really are not going to like this movie. I however am not one of those people. It is not the perfect film that I was hoping for, but this is a movie that I like despite itself. I liked everything that I saw happening in this film. I just wish that wasn't all that happened.

    In reviewing this movie I can't help but give stuff away, so don't read if you don't want to know.

    At the end of Reloaded Neo was given a choice:

    1. Go through one door, and the Machines will kill everyone in Zion, but everyone in the Matrix will be able to be kept alive because the equation of "The One" will be reintegrated into the Matrix. You'll be able to free a handful of people and have them found another Zion. Thus the human race will not be extinguished.
    2. Go through the other door, and the Matrix will start to break down so that in a handful of hours everyone within it will be killed and the Machines will still kill everyone in Zion, thus ending the human race.

    Neo of course chose the second door because otherwise Trinity would have been killed. Whereas most of the "Ones" loved humanity in just a general way (agape) and therefore all logically chose not to extinguish the human race, Neo experienced it in a direct way with one person: Trinity (eros).

    Well, now Neo's in a pickle. He has to find a way to save both Zion and the Matrix.

    As Revolutions opens Neo is in a coma, but somehow he has been jacked into the system without being physically connected. Did he do this himself? Did the Merovingian do it? How exactly did that happen?

    As my brother says, "It's okay to have unanswered questions in a movie, but not when those questions are what the hell is going on!?"

    This seems to be a problem with this film that the brothers didn't have with the other two: lack of explanations. Things happen and it seems like we're supposed to know why, but there is absolutely no explanation at all. The only two we get are both half-assed. How is Smith so powerful all of a sudden? He's Neo's opposite. How is Neo able to bust up machines in the real world? He's tapped into the Source. Okay, but how did both of those answers come to be? We're left with answers but no explanations. It's like giving somebody the answer to a really complicated math equation but not telling them the steps that were used to come up with that answer. We're satisfied that that is indeed the answer, but we don't know why that's the answer.

    Anyway, Neo is trapped in a loading program that the Merovingian has setup so that programs that were slated for deletion (because they serve no useful purpose) can escape to the Matrix and hide. Morpheus, Trinity, and Seraph go in and after a pretty standard and uninvolving action scene get the Merovingian to release him. Before he leaves the Matrix, Neo visits the Oracle for some information (and gets those only-answer answers that I mentioned up above). It is also basically stated that Smith himself is the thing that is going to destroy the Matrix (is this what the Architect was referring to at the end of Reloaded? Again, no real answer), and that unless Neo can stop him everything is pretty much screwed.

    So while everyone else tries to get back to Zion to stop the Machines from killing everybody, Neo and Trinity go straight to the top—the Source at the Machine City.

    This sets up easily the best part of the film: The Battle of the Docks. I have truly never seen anything like this in any film ever. It is simply breathtaking, exciting, harrowing, fascinating, and wonderful. The sight of the sentinals pouring down out of the hole in the ceiling like a mass of liquid was simply shocking in its awesomeness. I loved every second of it, and fortunately it is the main bulk of the movie.

    Meanwhile Neo and Trinity are jumped by Bane, who you'll remember was infected by Smith during Reloaded. I have to give the actor who played Bane (I forget his name) an enormous amount of credit here. He doesn't look much like Smith, he doesn't have the same voice, but by god he is Smith, down to the last mannerism and quirk of speech. It was incredible. Smith blinds Neo in a very painful way, but losing his eyes frees Neo to be able to actually see the Machines. How exactly does that work? See my earlier comments.

    Nevertheless, Neo uses his ever-increasing power over the machines to fight his way to the city. They crash and Trinity dies, which makes sense. She was Neo's only real link to humanity. The last film ended the way it did because of Neo's love for her. Now that she's gone, will Neo still be able to choose love?

    Neo makes a bargain with a big giant face made of Sentinals: If Neo destroys Smith, the Machines will stop trying to kill off the humans; The Machines will make peace in the real world. The machines agree and jack him into the Matrix, where Neo faces Smith (the Smith who absorbed the Oracle and therefore has all her oracular powers) in the final showdown. It seems that the brothers watched a lot of Dragonball Z before choreographing this fight, because it has a very similar (although much faster-paced) flow to it. Even though the CGI sometimes shows through too much (and sometimes seems completely unnecessary; there were several scenes of CGI characters that had me thinking, "why didn't they just use wires and a bluescreen for this? It would have looked a lot better"), the rain effects are incredible and heavenly.

    Here's a question I have: Why wasn't Neo able to defeat Smith in this fight? At the end of the first film it seems that Neo has godlike powers; he can bend the reality of the Matrix to the force of his will. In the second film he didn't seem quite as powerful; he could just fly and move really quickly and stop bullets. In this film he seems to be reduced to just being able to fly. Where did all of his power over the Matrix go? Is it because Smith has control over the Matrix now that makes it so Neo doesn't? Again, see my earlier gripe about unanswered questions.

    Indeed, Neo can't defeat Smith in hand-to-hand combat. Smith soundly trounces him again and again (even though Neo gets in some really good shots). Here comes the crux of the entire trilogy, though: Smith asks Neo why he keeps fighting when it's completely obvious that he can't win. Neo responds, "Because I choose to." It's not destiny. It's not predetermination. Neo has one thing that the Machines will never have: free will. Now that Neo is freed from his love of Trinity (eros) by her death, he is able to fight purely for his love of humanity (agape).

    Smith on the other hand, being Neo's opposite, has no free will. In a shocking scene, Oracle Smith uses his powers and says, "I've seen this before." He then goes on to say a few things, and then gets a horrified look on his face, blurting out, "Why did I just say that!?" It's because he has no free will. He is merely programmed to do what he is doing with no chance of escape. And now that he has the Oracle in him, he's forseen everything.

    In a fury Smith assimilates Neo, and here's where my brother's cry of "What the Hell is going on!?" becomes most prevelant. Smith assimilates Neo and suddenly all Smiths explode. Why? WHY? There is absolutely NO explanation. The answer to the question is "Neo wins." But the explanation of that answer is...?

    There is none. It could be that in joining with his opposite Smith cancels himself out. It could be that in absorbing Neo, Smith gains the free-will of Neo and that... um, somehow destroys all of him. It could be that when he is absorbed, Neo uses his powers to destroy all the Smiths from the inside. It could be that Neo's love destroys Smith's nihilism. But it's all speculation. Imagine if at the end of Return of the Jedi you didn't get to see the Millenium Falcon and the X-Wings fly into the heart of the Death Star and destroy the reactor core. Imagine that you see them fly towards the Death Star, then after Luke takes care of the Emperor and flies away with Darth's corpse we see the Millenium Falcon and the X-Wings flying away from the Death Star and it explodes behind them. We can speculate that, yes, they did destroy the reactor core, but there's no way to know for certain what happened.

    The last we see of Neo, his apparently dead body is being carried reverently away, christ-like, into the heart of the Machine City. Then we see the newly-restored Matrix (there's an awesome part where we watch the Matrix re-render itself back to a pristine state from Smith's desolation), and The Architect and the Oracle have a conversation in which it is revealed that anyone who wants to leave the Matrix now will be freed.

    The End.

    You know, in thinking back upon the last two Matrix movies, I can't help but think that there is one major thing missing from them: the human element. The first Matrix movie was in effect the story of a regular guy becoming a god. The second two movies are all about the strivings and machinations of these gods. They miss the human touch that was present in the first film. Insanely impossible things have been happening over the past six months. Neo has been flying all over the place. Insane fights have been happening. And now a man is replicating himself by touching other people. What is this like for the people in the Matrix who think that this is all real? We never know. At some point we stopped being presented with the poor saps jacked into the system and were only privy to the motives and movements of free people and programs. I would have loved to have seen a news broadcast or regular people going about their business and trying to make sense of what was happening around them as their world (literally) starts to come apart. These are the people over whom the gods are fighting after all. Even at the very end when we learn that they now have free will it is not from observing them, but from having two gods (Architect and Oracle) offhandedly mention that anyone who wants out of the Matrix will be let out. The only people we get to see in this film in the Matrix are partiers at the Merovingian's place. The rest is gods and monsters.

    Imagine if Return of the Jedi had ended with the Death Star blowing up, and then you see Lando cheer and then immediately the credits rolled. Revolutions just needed two more minutes of explanations and revelations to completely close itself out.

    But despite all these gripes I cannot take away the fact that I had an incredibly good time watching and experiencing this film. It is at times truly awe-inspiring, and an incredible filmmaking achievement. It consistenly took my breath away with the scope and realization of its vision, and that to me makes it worthwhile. It just doesn't quite seem like that's the end of the story is all.

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