Following the ending to Matrix Reloaded I was still anticipating Revolutions. It was almost impossible not to be excited. At the time I was one of the few that really liked Reloaded and felt the holding back of the mythology and philosophy in the second film was all because it was going to culminate into one big life lesson in the third film. Unfortunately, even after I saw Revolutions five years ago, I knew then I hadn’t seen a very good film. Five years later it isn’t any better.
Reloaded ends with Neo (Keanu Reeves) in an undefined coma after playing havoc with a group of oncoming Sentinels. Revolutions picks up as if we never left and the search to find Neo is on all while the impending threat the machines pose on Zion continues to build. Like Reloaded, Revolutions takes a long time to get started and I would say I am actually not sure it ever gets started as it squanders what could have been an interesting perspective with Neo left in limbo. The whole idea of Neo as The One has pretty much been abandoned for the machine attack on Zion. Neo’s involvement has become nothing more than an inevitability, a word that is actually used toward the end to describe the climax. The mystery is gone and is actually never really solved, at least not to a satisfying end.
Revolutions hinges on the fate of Zion and the love between Trinity and Neo, but neither of those reasons are why audiences loved the first film. That would be like people wanting to watch Return of the Jedi because they cared about the fate of the Ewoks. The Matrix is, was and always will be Neo’s story, but, like I said, Neo is pretty much forgotten in Revolutions, a film serving as the antithesis of the original. The Matrix kept things simple despite its advancements in technology whereas it seems the filmmakers couldn’t help but tinker with the CGI space ships until this film was filled with boring shots of tunnel chases and gun fights between a giant armed cavalry against the flying squid-like Sentinels. The film was an endless amount of shots that satisfy a trailer, but become overbearing and boring in a feature length film.
The final battle between Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) and Neo is certainly epic, but it still feels unoriginal despite some of the impressive water effects. I will admit the use of the torrential downpour simulating the Matrix code was rather ingenious and as the two opposing forces in the world collide the massive balls of water are a cool example of the code getting distorted as the two battle it out. But in terms of the grand story the original film started, and we hoped would be continued, it really gives us no answers and becomes quite generic.
What does it all mean? In the end what have we learned? There are a few things to take away from the story and hash out with your friends, but none of it comes from Revolutions. The story of The Matrix ended in Reloaded and Revolutions was one massive CGI set piece built to be destroyed. The idea that there have been multiple attempts at creating the Matrix and the fact that Neo is not the first “anomaly” to have existed is really the last bit of usable information we get from this franchise and it came at the tail end of Reloaded. After that it is nothing more than an extended episode of sci-fi television where everything plays out almost as expected.
Five years later the only Matrix film that truly lives on is the original. While I will probably return to the complete trilogy every so often over the years it is only because of my love for the original, the ideas it presented and a few of the great scenes in the sequels. Which reminds me, Lambert Wilson and Monica Bellucci are once again the most interesting pieces to this sequel as well. If only the life they brought to their scenes could have echoed throughout perhaps I would be singing a different tune.