" Nobody goes into the valley of death. That’s why they call it the valley of death. "
— Grant Heslov, The Scorpion King

MRQE Top Critic

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Followers of the series won’t be surprised at this final chapter for Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus (played again by Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne). However, in a year that will see the concluding chapter of Lord of the Rings, Matrix Revolutions looks a lot less impressive than it would have back in 1999 when the first film came out.

Plots and Subplots

Giant killer robots defend Zion
Giant killer robots defend Zion

Neo begins the movie in Purgatory. He’s trapped in a land between reality and the Matrix, completely reliant on his friends for a rescue. They need to get him out if they want his mystical help in the fight against the machines. Already the diggers are heading toward Zion and its residents must mount some sort of defense, futile though it may be.

One of the better subplots introduces us to Mifune (Nathaniel Lees), the leader put in charge of the defense of The Dock, where the diggers will first break through. “Wearing” giant robots armed with large-caliber machine guns, Mifune’s team makes a valiant stand against the diggers and the sentinels. His story also includes a cheesy war-movie cliche — the kid (Clayton Watson) who’s too young to enlist but who won’t take no for an answer — that grows on you.

Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), who replicated himself in Reloaded, is back in Revolutions as a third side to the war between humans and machines. Meanwhile, Neo and Trinity break from the other residents of Zion to try to find some other way to win the war.

Glitches

There is a lot going on in Matrix Revolutions, and some of these subplots feel cut, as though they were written for a longer movie. “The Last Exile” is a little “girl” (she’s a program, actually). She performs one unimportant feat at the end, which raises the question of why she’s in the movie at all. The Architect, whose metaphysical mumbo jumbo in the previous film was impossible to focus on, makes only the briefest of appearances in Revolutions.

One of the subplots that never fails to surprise is the love story between Neo and Trinity. The Matrix trilogy is a romance, which is easy to forget considering how little chemistry there is between the two. The “love” bit at the end of the first movie felt out of place, and again in Revolutions, when the movie stops to focus on them, it loses momentum. When Agent Smith mocks the “pathetic human emotion,” you almost want to agree with him.

The fight scene at the trilogy-capping climax is ridiculously over-animated. Little boys ponder who would win in a fight between Superman and God. Matrix Revolutions basically asks the same question — two transcendent, omnipotent figures battle for supremacy. But if both combatants are omnipotent — they both can fly, they can both change the laws of physics — then who cares? Better to spend your time thinking about how punching each other in mid-air, sans friction, is a hopelessly ineffective way to dole out damage, or why two omnipotent powers would use fists and kicks instead of thoughts, winks, or flicks of the wrist.

Effects Extravaganza

There are some bright moments that make Revolutions fun to watch. When the Zion troopers strap themselves into giant robotic tanks, you know it’s going to be a good fight. Indeed, what follows is an adrenalin-pounding special effects treat. Clouds of sentinels swarm the fighter robots while Zion guerillas try to disable the diggers.

But overall, Revolutions is merely an ending, instead of a grand, satisfying conclusion to the Matrix trilogy. I don’t want to discourage the loyal Matrix fans. I’m sure they will get much more out of the movie than I did. Someday, I hope to see all three movies back-to-back. Maybe then I’ll better appreciate the story and its symbols.

But in the same year that will see The Return of the King and Kill Bill Vol 2, the Matrix trilogy will probably suffer by comparison.