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Wed November 5, 2003
Audiences should leave feeling betrayed by a crass indulgence in video-game vulgarity.
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
The Oracle explains clearly what Neo's (Keanau Reeves) role in "The Matrix Revolutions " will be: "Everything that has a beginning has an end. I see the end coming, I see the darkness spreading. I see death... and you are all that stands in his way. If you cannot stop him tonight, then I fear tomorrow will never come." I might infer properly that this installment is about the end of things, i.e., the death of humans and of this trilogy.
"Revolutions" purportedly ends one of the most lucrative franchises in movie history and promises to answer the high-minded questions literati and geeks have hoped for after coming up a bit short on explanations in the first two. I am not here to deconstruct number three or to reveal plot. I can say I was disappointed that most of the film is devoted to the invasion of the machines and the machinations of the few humans left to stop complete world domination--forget the promise of intellectual and creative challenges promised by the original.
From a literary point of view, the consistent themes of the transforming power of love and the potency of faith are carried through to the end, giving a unity to all the explosions and pretentious dialogue (more suited, actually, to foxhole movies of the last century). As in my criticism of "Lord of the Rings," I once again ask why all the shooting and mayhem? These existential romances should end on the high note of philosophy, not just who beats whom in hand-to-hand combat.
The Wachowski brothers have attempted to weave throughout the primary theme that the most powerful force in the universe is love, not machinery. Unlike the more successful "Love Actually," the film leaves this theme for the easier visual motif of violence, not love, being all around. The first installment promised a continuing dialogue on the big themes, the second ("Reloaded") put us in Limbo by answering nothing, and the third proves that the brothers are nothing if not hucksters who can't come through with what they promised.
Agent Smith repeats to Neo, "Mr. Anderson! Welcome back. We missed you." Well, I miss the ambiguous challenges of the original "Matrix." With its mythological names and mystical mysteries, audiences left that brilliant Wachowski film knowing that the brothers had pushed the boundaries of film technology and philosophy. For the final installment, audiences should leave feeling betrayed by a crass indulgence in video-game vulgarity.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE's "It's Movie Time," which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm.