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Tue November 11, 2003
The Matrix: Revolutionary No More
Revolutions could work...if you went into an editing room, and fused all three Matrix films together into one big eight-hour megamovie.
By Dan Mushalko & Michael A.J. Randolph
The Matrix: Revolutions is hardly revolutionary. It's merely the latest installment in a trilogy of movies that started off innovative and electrifying, but ended up repetitive and fizzling with static discharge.
Like the other films, The Matrix: Revolutions offers plenty of action...but with less Neo (Keanu Reeves) this time around. The film strays from its original thread of following Neo on his path as humanity's new messiah, instead centering on the rest of humanity's defense of their underground city from machine invaders.
As a result, the film devolves into a war movie, instead of an innovative sci-fi drama. And one which cannot stand on its own; if you haven't seen its two predecessors, you'll spend the first half of the movie totally clueless.
There are some positive points to make. The movie has superb special effects, and succeeds in bringing us closer to understanding the nature of the Matrix. It also treats the ears to the best soundtrack of the trilogy. Don Davis gives us a lot of great original score work, instead of lifting thrash and metal hits to fill the cyber silence as much as the prior two films did.
This review may seem like it vacillates between pan and praise. The Matrix: Revolutions is difficult to review with balance because it's both fluffy AND deep. The fluff is grand; the battle scene to save the human city was terrific, replete with non-stop action, great special effects, and tributes to other currently-hot sci-fi trends, such as Gundam Wing. On the deep end, there are religious and philosophical under- and over- tones aplenty. These temper the violence with a bit of thought...and serve to contrast the blatant messianic message for humans with the machines' Marxist view that religion is an opiate of the masses. But it just didn't mesh these elements well...
The biggest casualty in this film is characterization. The Wachowski Brothers (the writers/directors) got too carried away with special effects and wrapping up the plot line. As a result, favorite characters - Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), the Frenchman (Lambert Wilson), and their ilk - are shoved into brief background scenes. Focusing on Neo and Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) just isn't enough; they're simple archetypes of good and evil, not rounded personalities. That's why Keanu Reeves plays Neo so well - the role doesn't require any depth. Without the strong supporting cast of characters, the final film of The Matrix trilogy becomes flat -- pseudointellectual eye-candy.
Trapping the "background" cast inside ships or in Zion takes away the hippest elements of the previous films: those scenes wherein Morpheus, Neo and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) moved into the fantastic world of the Matrix, and performed amazing stunts. Seeing them as meer mortals reduces this to a basic man-against-machine movie.
Revolutions could work...if you went into an editing room, and fused all three Matrix films together into one big eight-hour megamovie. Then the strengths of the other two installments could carry the weaknesses of this all-too-predictable climax.
The bottom line: Matrix: Revolutions earns a grade of C++ for captivating computer effects and music chords...but with too much predictability, discarding of great characters, and new loopholes for blatant commercial spin-offs yet to come.