Friday, February 26, 2016

The Matrix Revolutions Film Review


The Matrix Revolutions

(Spoilers for The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded are below).

After the disastrous second movie in the Matrix series, Matrix Revolutions looks to redeem the franchise, and bring the trilogy to a worthwhile conclusion.

The film does move the plot forward and fighting sequences in this film aren’t as pointless as they were in The Matrix Reloaded, however the way the story concludes leaves a number of plot holes and moments that make the outcome of the battle between humans and machines feel very artificial, and logically a giant contradiction.

The Matrix Revolutions continues putting the Matrix film series on its path of self-destruction.  Although not as terrible as the previous film, the final installment is anti-climactic and unfulfilling.

As Zion prepares its defenses for the imminent machine invasion, Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss) split up from the rest of the crew to go to the surface and confront the machines.  Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) lead the rest of the crew members back to Zion to aid in its defense.  Bane, who has been possessed by Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), prepares to make his move and further disrupt the human war effort.

The Matrix Revolutions has left me convinced that as human emotions have become more central to the story, Keanu Reeves might have better served the film as a machine.  He can still be the good guy, but maybe he’s part machine?  Consider this dialogue Neo has with Rama-Kandra while he is trapped in the train station:
Neo: I just never…
Rama-Kandra: … heard a program speak of love?
Neo: It’s a … human emotion.
The last line Neo utters in that exchange is devoid of any emotion; it’s badly acted and it’s delivered without any of the empathy or tenderness that is associated with the feeling of love.  Neo sounds more like a machine than Rama-Kandra does in this scene.  This is sad considering Rama-Kandra is playing a machine.

Being part machine would be a nice cover for Keanu Reeves poor ability to display empathy in his acting, and it’s where I thought the film might go since The Matrix likes to bring up how machines and humans in this story are each dependent on one another.  Either way its a lose-lose choice for the filmmakers – poor plot line (Neo is a machine) vs poor actor (Keanu Reeves).  The filmmakers obviously chose to go with the poor actor, but the end result is a number of scenes throughout the film like the one mentioned above end up becoming laughable for all the wrong reasons.
A lot of the subplots in this film lose their meaning due to lack of meaningful development in the previous film, especially the plots taking place in Zion.  Captain Mifune’s plot is notable for this.

The other two major Zion plots, Zee (Link’s wife) and Kid’s (the character who constantly tries to tag along with Neo), are plots that never had any hope.  Kid, who’s story is supposed to be a coming of age story really struggles to get the point across that he is capable of doing adult tasks when his name is Kid.  This character was so annoying that all I kept hoping for was a satisfying death to squelch my anger at his existence, rather than rooting for him to succeed.

Zee’s plot suffers from serious plot holes, for example: the machines can detect humans with the subtlest of noises in the previous movies, but while Zee is sneaking around, surrounded by thousands of machines, they don’t notice or hear the multiple rockets she fires out of her rocket launcher?  The machines do eventually notice Zee but that’s not until she’s fired around six of these rockets, which makes her plot feel like an excuse to add tension to the film.  That’s convenient.

Speaking of convenient, here are three words that sum up the type of plot lines that people are tired of seeing at the end films: deus ex machina (saving a hopeless situation with an unexpected power/character/etc. in a story’s plot).  Does it exist in this film… yes it does, both as a character and an irritating plot device.  The character Deus Ex Machina is basically the robot overlord, and yes it commits the before mentioned sin of deus ex machina.  I have to admit I like the Wachowski brothers owning up to what they were doing, calling the robot overlord after using a plot device that has a fairly negative reputation was gutsy, however it still cheapens the ending of a series that has now been building for three movies.

Despite some serious flaws, this film does have some strengths. The most notable of these strengths once again belongs to the acting talents of Hugo Weaving.  The final battle between Smith and Neo that has been building turns out to be pretty epic, and a lot of this is due to Weaving’s ability to personify a cold-hearted villain.  The other great thing about the final installment of the Matrix, is that the Wachowski brothers aren’t afraid to kill off major characters.  This is great as a lot of films in this genre have a tendency to find excuses that see all of the major characters live until the end.  In a war of this proportion there have to be casualties, and The Matrix Revolutions makes sure that a price is paid for this war.

The Matrix Revolutions is an improvement over The Matrix Reloaded, but that isn’t saying much… just about anything would have been better than that.  The real crime of these last two Matrix films is their inability to live up to the innovations and quality of storytelling that made the first film so great.  It’s frustrating when their is good source material to create sequels with, which was the case with the Matrix films, unfortunately this material wasn’t capitalized on.  What should have been a great science fiction trilogy ends up being a wasted opportunity as The Matrix Revolutions climactic explosion is less powerful than a small firecracker.

Score: 5.7

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