DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
MATRIX  REVOLUTIONS, THE (director/writer: Andy and Larry Wachowski; cinematographer: Bill Pope; editor: Zach Staenberg; music: Don Davis; cast: Keanu Reeves (Neo), Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus), Carrie-Anne Moss (Trinity), Jada Pinkett Smith (Niobe), Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith), Monica Bellucci (Persephone), Nona M. Gaye (Zee), Harry J. Lennix (Lock), Lambert Wilson (Merovingian), Mary Alice (the Oracle), Sing Ngai (Seraph), Tanveer Atwal (Sati), Clayton Watson (Kid), Trainman (Bruce Spence); Runtime: 129; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Joe Silver; Warner Bros; 2003)

 
"Enough of this bubkes (Yiddish for big nothing), already!"

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

There's nothing but disappointment in this final version after being led to high expectations in the opening part of the Matrix trilogy. It begun steeped in big ideas for its sci-fi action scenes and was scripted with an innovative metaphorical arc, but the middle part lost its mystique and the final episode just wraps up the trilogy but adds nothing of value. It lands Neo in no-man's land between two worlds, the real one and the matrix, and completely forgoes its intellectual pretenses for an onerously long round of video game-like action sequences. It becomes just another splashy familiar big-budget "money making machine" of a martial-arts action picture dependent on special effects to sell its story, as the ideas are too crassly drawn to sink your teeth into and the filmmaker's hubris becomes all too evident and can't hold down all the biblical trivialities spread on even thicker than before. It all becomes alarmingly thin and shamelessly grandiose. Every episode has gotten progressively worse, with the final chapter the real stinker. I was bored silly, even though my expectations were lowered I was still surprised at how anticlimactic the payoff proved to be. The let down is not a gentle one except we are, maybe, reassured that this pretentious philosophical riff, loaded down with a spaceship load of cliches and unbearable repetitiveness, has had its beginning and end. It should be apparent that it ran out of ideas as the same old fight scenes and CGI driven images are replayed, and as ideas get lost in all the action and talky sermonizing to explain all the hokum. In any case, I think we are led to believe by the Oracle (Mary Oliver took over for the previous Oracle, the late Gloria Foster), at least I was, that she doesn't see a need for Neo to return from his Valhalla retreat as things stand at the present. I like to believe there will not be another Matrix sequel, as I wish to believe the matronly seer when she says so. After all, she must know what she's predicting since she can bake a mean tray of chocolate chip cookies and is bold enough to ignore the surgeon general's warning about smoking and is working out of insiders information. It seems the kick-ass concluding fight scene to save the world from the enemy is enough for the One to rest his laurels on--and that's good enough for me to relax knowing that the Wachowski brothers have said what was on their mind and are willing to call it a day. Enough of this bubkes (Yiddish for big nothing), already! 

It all seemed more like a video game than a movie, as the story never seemed to kick in and have anything to say in the final analysis. It also could never raise the temperature in the romance between Neo and Trinity. Neo's the robotic personality who starts out as a hacker taking a red pill to free his mind in the first chapter and in the finale ends up as none other than the true Christ-like Savior. While Trinity, his biblical Mary Magadelene, offers him her full love and uncompromising loyalty. Their dialogue and passion was dirge-like and not anything more moving than a corny old-fashioned Hollywood romance in a B-film that would be good for a few laughs, except this flick that has its lead characters get all dressed in sexy leather outfits and long black dusters takes itself so seriously and is so humorless that there's hardly a thing about the spaceship scenario to chuckle about.

But we do know that Trinity is there for the trapped Neo, just like VP Chaney is there for his old oil firms. Poor Neo is stuck at a train station, waiting to go to the matrix, for what might be forever if not for her and that human rebel leader Morpheus rescuing him with some sharply applied martial arts moves that force that bad Frenchman, the Trainman’s boss, who is munching on cocktail olives, Merovingian, to loosen his grip on the One. At the Frenchman's side in the Euro-like disco floor sits his consort, the busty Persephone, who has the good sense to behave like a mute for her one minute cameo, before she responds to Trinity's rejection of her man's offer of "bringing him the Oracle's eyes" in exchange for Neo. The busty lady explains "If Trinity has to kill every one of us, she will—she's in love." I must admit, that line drew a mild snicker from me.

In Zion the humans are preparing for a doomed war with the attacking insect-like Sentinels, while Neo and Trinity borrow Niobe's spacecraft (she's Morpheus' old flame) to go unarmed to Machine City planning to smoke the peace pipe with the Source. When the machine attack is repelled and the dock is secured by the daredevil efforts of Niobe riding with Morpheus in a Hovercraft, and someone on the ground called the Kid (he opens the gate). But that victory only signals that the situation for the humans has worsened. The story then returns to Neo as mankind's last hope. It all leads to Neo arriving with great difficulty and a heavy heart on the matrix to duke it out in the rain with his shadowy opposite self -- the anti-One, Agent Smith, and his numerous replicas --as he's become an even greater threat than the machines. This becomes known as the Super Burly Brawl showdown. Now this "not so novel" ending could have been stolen from any number of those John Wayne westerns or war films, or from the recent crop of Hong Kong action pictures. The bang for the money invested in all these computer driven images is realized from the rich photography, the special effects and all those difficult FX shots. As for the big deal made about the new myth, it's made into a tepid religious parable extolling the virtues of the Judeo-Christian beliefs. It seems fit for hardcore Matrix fanatics or for those weaned on comic books and think Superman is a heavy read, or for those who believe the Wachowskis actually have something worthwhile to say about the New Age. But since the film was made in 1999, the new century has seen the end of the dot.com boom and the dashed hopes that the Internet alone will be an informational highway for ridding the world of ignorance. This leaves the film, in such a short time, stuck in a time warp with its outdated message of a new technological revolution to liberate mankind from machines. What we have instead is the same old Hollywood glop for myth, but one without a star performance to take our minds off how crappy this story turned out.

REVIEWED ON 11/7/2003     GRADE: C

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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