Disappointing ‘Matrix’ falls short of predecessors

Ted Pigeon

“The Matrix Revolutions” is a great movie for anyone who wants to see stuff blow up. In it, we are provided with several impressive special effects sequences and given explosion after explosion … after explosion after explosion. But that’s about it. As an exercise in pure action, this movie delivers competent entertainment, but we have come to expect more. With this final installment in “The Matrix” trilogy, the Wachowski brothers have managed to abandon everything that made the first movie so fascinating, and instead bombard us with inconsequential action scenes and mindless philosophizing, all of which we’ve been subjected to before.

The film picks up immediately where “Reloaded” left off. Neo (Keanu Reeves) is still in a coma and is currently trapped between the real world and the world of the Matrix. This state of mind exists in the form of a small train station, where a train transports programs to and from the Matrix. While Neo is trapped in this place and struggling fora way to get out, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Ann Moss) probe the Matrix in hopes of finding him. They are taken to Club Hell, where they once again encounter Merovingian (one of the villains from the second film), who they discover is controlling the fate of Neo through his henchmen, the Trainman.

Up until this point, the movie is interesting. But all is resolved within 15 minutes, which of course contains the obligatory action sequence with lots of guns, martial arts and techno music – standard stuff. After all this, the movie slows down and becomes quite boring, with the exception of one scene involving the ever-growing number of Smiths and the Oracle (now played by Mary Alice, replacing the late Gloria Foster). Neo finally decides to travel to the machine city with Trinity to carry out what he must do, even though he doesn’t yet know. While all this is going on, the anticipation is growing for the inevitable war to take place at Zion, where Commander Locke is preparing the city for the worst.

One of the biggest problems with the film is that we are expected to take the same serious approach to the subject that the Wachowskis do. But it’s hard to do that when absolutely none of the characters are worth caring about. The first movie had a certain storytelling flare to it. These weren’t deep characters that we were getting to know, but we still cared about them.

In the past two movies they are almost different characters altogether.They have become more like walking clichés the more we got to know them, each of them uttering several idiotic and repugnant lines. Not once are Neo and Trinity convincing as two people that love each other. It feels like they are two people that read the script and felt like they had to love each other. The quality of the storytelling in the first film was fainter in the second film and is completely absent in “Revolutions.” The Wachowskis expect us to care so much, but they don’t give any reason for us to.

The same holds true for the action scenes. The centerpiece of the film is the massive war sequence in Zion, which holds up fine as a special effects display, but really isn’t that interesting. On top of that, it’s about 40 minutes long. What could have been done in 10 or 15 minutes is dragged out beyond belief, which is no surprise considering that the Wachowskis have always enjoyed indulging in their action scenes. But it was never irritating before, and in this film they go way overboard, destroying any possible positive things these scenes have going for them in the beginning.

As for Neo’s fight withSmith at the end, it doesn’t come close to the amazing fight they had in “Reloaded.” There are some notable aspects about it, like the high noon standoff and great choral music by Don Davis, but the scene ultimately falls dramatically short of expectations. They punch and kick each other and do a little more flying around, but the scene lacks exhilaration and suspense. We’ve seen it all before, and better too.

What made “The Matrix” such a good movie was that it brought together all of its elements through a good story. The Wachowskis never let the action or special effects get in the way of the story, but rather utilized them in telling it. “The Matrix Reloaded” may have lacked the coherence of the original film and was a bit more disjointed, but it still had a lot to offer, including two absolutely brilliant action sequences. “The Matrix Revolutions” is nothing more than a special effects display that lacks everything that made the first film so great. What a disappointing way to end a story that began with so much intrigue and fascination.