A Review by Noah Antwiler
I honestly expected by the end of the Revolution to be sitting in the theater seat with my hair blasted backwards, an empty popcorn bag in my fist, and a blown away look on my face. I expected a mindjob-and-a-half, a shocker so profound that all I'd be able to do as the credits rolled was to give a very Keanu-like "Whoa." I entered the movie with an optimism I have not known for quite a while, built up by the stunning revelations in Reloaded which nobody-- and I mean nobody-- saw coming. And I rather enjoyed Reloaded in its entirety. I really eat this pseudo-philosophical crap up, and it leaves my good friend Lurker just shaking his head in disgust just hearing me talk about it.
Watching The Matrix: Revolutions was easy. Piecing my thoughts together about how I felt about it was very, very difficult. I think it's difficult because I really, REALLY want to find a reason to like it as equally as I like the first two. There's a fanboy in me that wishes he could enjoy Revolutions as much as I wish I truly wish I could adore the Star Wars prequels as blindly as the most ardent supporters. I finally came to a grim revelation as I chowed down on a quite good Filiberto's beef burrito, that we all spent too much time thinking about the weird tangential endings they could have given the series, when it was destined to end exactly the way it did: with a very loud, very long war sequence and your stock action film cliches. There never was any real shocker ending planned. Ya got your war, son, go on home.
Part of the problem is, perhaps, that there is no satisfying way to conclude the story of The Matrix. The enjoyment of the mystery is the journey to the solution's discovery. As soon as you tear down the last curtain of suspense, you've finally defined the Matrix and people like me can whine about the weakness of it all. And I admit, I was hoping for some real answers to explain the rather glaring plot holes and scientific impossibilities of the first movie. (I was hoping Morpheus only *thinks* humans are used for power, that everyone was lied to by the machines, etc). I heard some REALLY wild theories, too, about the ultimate secret of the Matrix, and they were all absolutely brilliant. I've heard that the Merovingian and Seraph are previous incarnations of The One, rewarded for their service by being "immortalized" as programs (impossible, but interesting). My favorite theory was that humans weren't in the Matrix at all-- humans won, and locked the machines in a VR simulation that gave them the illusion of victory and domination by subjugating themselves, keeping them busy in a mad faux-conflict for all time. Neo, Morpheus, all of them are machine programs duped into the illusion of humanity.
They could have gone any absurd direction they wanted to with this epic conclusion-- I would have even accepted that the machine war and the apocalypse lines up perfectly with the universe of the Terminator movies (impossible, but funny)-- but instead it all ends...well...rather predictably. I was expecting madness, a series of twists that would have left M. Night Shyamalan crippled in shock, and what we got was very nearly taken from the War Movie Playbook, step by step. It was just all so...standard.
One could argue that the movie went wrong in a lot of other places. I've heard a lot of complaints: an overreliance on special effects (something which I have blamed primarily for the fake-looking, terrible, Star Wars prequels), terrible acting, and the sidelining of key cast members (Merv, Persephone, Morpheus). I think a lot of those arguments hover around the main issue without touching it-- the other movies had THAT and they worked. Revolutions went wrong because it took place almost entirely in the Real World. The Real World was always the most dreary, dull place in any of the movies. You didn't want to be there. There was nothing mythical or magical, or mysterious about it; the world had gone to hell and we eat snot for breakfast. You WANTED to see the Matrix, the place where you wore cool dusters, shades at night, and ran up the walls like a superhero while dodging bullets. The first movie was astounding because of all the amazing things the characters could do in this artificial world, and the only places where it really dragged were the segments where Neo is freed in the Real World. We wanted to see more of the gravity-defying kung-fu.
And it's more than a childish desire to see sh** blow up. LOTS of stuff blows up in Revolutions. There was a real mystique about the Matrix that gave the Agents a real menace, the Twins were freaky and unstoppable, and even Merv had a menacing presence despite his fixation with orgasmicake. All the Real World has was a bunch of killer Koosh Balls. You came to a movie called The Matrix to SEE the Matrix, not mechs blasting squid thingies in a futuristic battleground. The Matrix represents the ultimate modern interpretation of Socrates' Allegory of the Cave. When your blinders are removed, when you're finally exposed to the truth for the first time, how do you cope with what you see? How do you know what you're seeing is the truth? Are there other caves outside of this one? Taken a step farther, what if the people outside the cave were deliberately keeping you there and screwing with your perceived reality? The philosophy of the Matrix is primarily about this perception of reality, and the horror of our fates being dictated by another person with power over us. Causality and the illusion of choice are terrible things to consider if you finally realize yourself to be a slave to another's machinations.
And...it all ends with a war movie. Some people considered all this philosophical talk nonsense, but it was a rare film that actually managed to tap even the dimmest viewer and at least give them one moment of intellectual thought. Nonsense or not, I think it made everyone consider their existential purpose at least briefly. The Allegory of the Cave was a brilliant course of philosophical reasoning, modernized in The Matrix.
That being said, The Matrix: Revolutions will probably compete with Gigli for a Razzie award sweep this year. I've heard people who like *everything* at the movies walk out denouncing this movie. And I didn't even hear that from the people walking out of Gigli (either one of them). Most of them-- die-hard Christopher Walken fans all-- were saying that Gigli wasn't that bad.
"But Spoony One," you're saying, "you've ranted on Gigli, Star Wars, and the Matrix series as a whole! We want to know your opinion, your exacting recap of the action of the movie! Because we have no opinion unless it's fed to us by morons like Ebert & Roeper or Leonard Maltin." Well first off, God help you if you watch or skip a movie based on Leonard Maltin or Roeper's recommendations. Ebert is generally on the ball but even he exudes a level of pretentiousness that I can only aspire to have.
So I'll tell you this now and save you a lot of hassle. Listen to nobody's reviews when you decide to see a movie. Not fatass Ebert, not skinnyass Roeper, not smartass Spoony. Watch the trailer. You'll know by looking whether that movie's gonna suck. Usually. And then there's a movie that you expect to just blow you away and leave a smoking husk in the chair, like The Matrix: Revolutions.
Dammit this movie could have been so awesome. I still can't believe it. The rant, it begins.
We open about 5 minutes after Reloaded ended. This points to the idea that we are not really watching the third part of a trilogy, merely the second half of a movie cut for time (see Kill Bill). Neo has apparently managed to go wireless and by sheer force of personality conform to all 802.11 broadband standards, blissfully able to simply transmit his signal to the nexus point between the machine mainframe and the Matrix. How he is able to do this despite the obvious physical limitations and problems of actually transmitting a signal where a ship cannot, and how he knows nothing of this place is never adequately explained. Basically all we're told is that Neo is The One, and he can do this simply for that reason. Unfortunately, this answer is about as unsatisfying as a Star Wars purist justifying every inconsistency with the excuse "Um...the Force?"
Morpheus and the others are most upset, since Neo is hijacking their bandwidth with his stupid Matrix stuff and Captain Jagoff can't play Halo with the other ship captains. Luckily they get a call from Seraph telling them the Oracle has info for them on Neo's whereabouts. Seraph is cool and all, but for some reason I could never help but wonder how much cooler Jet Li or Chow Yun-Fat might have been in his role. It's always bugged me. For some reason this Seraph just seems like the guy we got because Mr. Chow was shooting Bulletproof Monk or something. So we're stuck with Mr. "Yu seek deh Olaclo". The Oracle is most obviously a cheap replacement for the previous actress who very sadly died prior to filming. Actually I'm too hard on the Oracle's replacement-- she's quite good and talented-- but she spends more time explaining how she's different and yet the same than telling us anything we actually need to know. And so I apologize to the actress of Oracle #2 and blame the Wachowskis for not finding a better way to handle the Oracle's untimely demise.
The Oracle is an increasingly frustrating character because all of the other characters take her so damn seriously. Bits of dialogue like this demonstrate her infuriating pseudo-philosophical crap:
N: Are you saying I have to decide whether Trinity lives or dies?
O: No. You've already made the choice. Now you have to understand why you made it.
O: No one can see past the choices they don't understand.
O: You came here to make a choice.
N: ...what choice?
O: We're all here to do what we're all here to do.
I admit, she is the ORACLE and she's not really supposed to make sense and just come right out and explain everything. But come on, there comes a point when even a Vorlon would strangle you for being needlessly evasive. Further, I don't really see why any of the characters trust the Oracle at all. Think about it. She uses the guise of a major religious figure to the people of Zion to drive Morpheus and many other believers to find The One. Morpheus wastes his life following her lies when it turns out the Oracle was leading Neo straight into a trap from the first moment they found him. The Oracle's entire function appears to be the activation and the guidance of The One back to the source of the machine world, which means her entire purpose is to manipulate the people of Zion, manipulate The One, and lead them all to the destruction of Zion at a regular interval. This is NOT the kind of person or program I would exactly be chummy with after learning the truth. In fact, I probably would have busted a cap in her on sight. The excuse that she was "tinkering" with The One or manipulating him in the cause of peace doesn't really hold water, since all we really know by the end of Reloaded is that the Oracle is a fraud and a liar. If the Oracle really wanted to bring about peace don't you think she would have had a better plan than the one that plays out in Revolutions? Maybe I'm overthinking her character but ask yourself how much you really know about the Oracle's intentions or what your opinions of her would be after the incident with the Architect. Probably not too good, and no amount of peacenik philosophy talk from her would have cooled me off.
Where was I? Oh yeah. The Oracle explains that Neo is stuck between worlds and only The Trainman has access to his location. The Trainman is a crusty fellow with crunchy underwear and has excess hair in places you don't want to know about. He looks like he has a perpetual case of swampass, epic gingivitis, and probably breath that could melt titanium. In other words, he is obviously a minion of the French, and so they go to Club Hel to find the Merovingian.
The Merovingian was the character that caused most people to get up to go to the bathroom because of his long-winded dialogue about cause-and-effect that lost almost everyone, capped off with the utterly pointless Orgasmicake (tm) scene. Most people are, however, very stupid and fail to realize that the Merovingian's long-winded speech was probably the only speech that, in hindsight, actually makes sense. This is in contrast to the Oracle, whose long-winded speeches never bear any revelations of use.
The coolest scene in the movie takes place in the lobby of Club Hel, where Morpheus, Trinity, and Seraph blast the fajeezus out of the door guards. This scene is cool because it is the only real action scene that takes place in the Matrix. It may sound odd that for a movie called "The Matrix," so little of it actually takes place there. Most people I've talked to simply believe that the lobby battle scene rips itself off from the lobby battle in the first Matrix movie. This I see as a good thing, since THAT movie was GOOD and they probably should have stolen a lot more from it. The group gets to the Merovingian and get nowhere with negotiations. After all, Merv has seen Keanu in Much Ado About Nothing and he'll be damned if he lets that crime against Shakespeare go. Trinity whips a gun out and Merv changes his tune. Trin is nothing if not innovative, eh?
But then we see the oh-so-delicious Monica Bellucci as Persephone. For some reason, the blood drained from my head to eh...somewhere else, and I momentarily blacked out and missed her ONE LINE OF DIALOGUE. Oh my god she has the HUGEST...tracts of land...One line of dialogue? Merv and Persephone totally got shafted on screentime. What the hell? I was led to believe these characters would be major players in the story from their buildup in the previous movie. After this scene, we never see them again and some of the largest questions we have are left dangling-- Who *is* the Merovingian?? Who in the heck is Persephone? What is their purpose? What's holding Monica's breasteses in that dress?
Neo has been stuck in the train station for some time. Being The One here doesn't seem to matter much here and Keanu is utterly unable to act his way out of here. There is a very nice actor here who, while he's very good, manages to waste 5 minutes of our time with yet another drawn-out rant about the meaning of love. Trinity eventually shows up, the lovers are reunited, and a pointless 45 minutes of padded film time are killed off. It doesn't help that Keanu and Carrie-Anne Moss have about as much chemistry as you and the lady at the DMV window. Trinity just doesn't 'do it' for me. Never has. Call it sexist, and it is. Call it shallow, and it's even more so. Call me bored, and I have been. Everyone else in the movie looks like they belong, but Trinity looks like a poseur in black pleather.
After the rescue, Neo refuses to leave the Matrix until he's (sigh) seen the Oracle again. The Oracle wastes our time explaining why she's a different actress AGAIN with another exposition on the consequences of choice and the understanding of those choices. Neo has the combined brainpower of a thousand cashews, and thus doesn't understand a word of it. She also doesn't bother explaining why Neo is able to affect machines in the Real World-- one of the larger questions left unanswered-- simply saying that The One can do this sort of thing just because. She also says that Smith is Neo's opposite, the result of the Matrix trying to balance a skewed equation. Neo leaves, Smith finds the Oracle, Morpheus has no lines. Thankfully, the Oracle does not bother explaining why she looks different to Smith. But Smith has a reason for his visit and makes her a Smith Clone, fully inheriting her powers of chain-smoking and neverending dialogue.
(Side note: A major unanswered question was made even larger here when I examined this film. You can see the matrix code of the Oracle when Smith copies onto her, and it's green. However, when you see Seraph in Reloaded, his code is a radiant gold color. I interpreted this as significant, perhaps even as significant to suggest that Seraph was a previous version of The One or some uber-program. Obviously I was mistaken. The question remains: why is Seraph's code gold?)
Morpheus and Captain Jagoff are searching for Niobe, whose misadventures are well documented in the Enter the Matrix game. After all, she's the only hot chick around this place and it'd be a shame not to have her along. They find the Logos, whose power core has been shut down after their chase from a horde of sentinel robots. Jada Pinkett-Smith is very good in this movie as the hard-boiled nerves-of-steel Niobe, and her sidekick Ghost has all the badass menace and screen presence of a cardboard standee of Star Trek's Data. Sparks is the ship's operator, and he relishes his two lines of dialogue channeling the full acting method of Dennis Miller, cha-cha. Niobe runs out shouting "someone help us waste 5 minutes of screen time so we can establish the ignition lever thing so it's dramatic later in the movie!". She really runs out shouting something like, "The ship's fine, I just need a jump." I bet you do, baby. Mm.
The Logos comes back online and Sparks gets a peek at the Matrix code on his monitors. Obviously there's something much more interesting going on in the Matrix than here, since the code image is all messed up. But since this movie sucks, we won't get to see it. Morpheus wanders around aimlessly in the background carrying stuff. Neo is sitting in his quarters desperately trying to squeeze a thought out of his brain for the first time. Unfortunately he burned out most of his brain cells drinking away the pain of making Johnny Mnemonic, so it's slow going. Bane, the guy posessed by the psyche of Agent Smith, has also come out of his coma. Wisely, Captain Jagoff interrogates him with all the intensity of and skill of Walker: Texas Ranger. Bane comes across as nuttier than a Snickers bar, so the captain lets him wander freely around the ship. (He's obviously harmless.)
Neo finally wrenches a premonition out of his walnut of a brain, and figures out where he needs to go. He probably just cheated and read ahead in the script. Anyway, fueled with this new knowledge, he shouts "EXCELLENT!", air guitars madly in the air, and runs off to tell the others. He wants to go alone to the Machine World to solve this little problem once and for all. Captain Jagoff objects because this course of action makes sense, and movie authority figures are forced to argue against reason. Otherwise things would be too easy. That and he's compensating for a sudden burst of penis envy towards Niobe, whose ship is a whole lot nicer than his. Morpheus stands there rigidly as if he were NPCed for a missing party member. Anyway, Niobe tosses Neo the keys to the Logos, reminds him not to touch the preset channels on the radio or adjust the seat, and Neo leaves with his ball-and-chain Trinity as everyone else makes whip-cracking noises at his back.
Oh yeah, and Bane kills that lady-whose-name-we-never-bother-to-figure-out with a scalpel. Honestly, why can't we go back to the Matrix?? Things are SO COOL there. I don't *care* about Zion or this Real World crap. The Real World sucks, here AND on MTV. Ugh. Bane stows away with Neo's ship and attacks before you can say Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. Bane holds Trinity hostage and commands Neo to drop his gun. Neo has no idea what's going on here, and has no idea what's happened to Bane. This despite the fact that Bane has called Neo "Missster Annnderson" about a dozen times in the span of 30 seconds in an exaggerated Hugo Weaving impression. Come on, even a Minnesota Vikings fan could have figured THAT out by now. (You lost to the Cardinals. How bad do YOU suck? HAH!) Bane and Neo seem to forget all the kung-fu they know and roll around hitting each other like fourth graders over the rights to the good kickball at recess. Damn these white boys can't fight. Bane *was* an Agent, though. He's been stuck in the Matrix for decades. He's seen A Walk in the Clouds and Sweet November, so he's got a lot more to hate than Keanu does. Bane jams a live wire in Neo's face, destroying his sight! Oh yes, we've read Greek tragedy, haven't we? It's like the Wachowskis read "The Power of Myth" and "Hero With A Thousand Faces" and just made a checklist of all the best literary elements to rip off in order to guarantee an epic saga for the ages. We've covered all our bases except Arthurian tragedy and an epic battle scene. (Hell, we even worked in the hero's rebirth scene, where our protagonist literally was born again from a womb complete with birthing fluid. Bill Moyers no doubt orgasms just thinking about it.)
Meanwhile, the castoff and now wholly irrelevant characters are trying to get back to Zion to fight the war against the machines. They have to take "machine tunnels" which provide a faster route to Zion. No human can navigate them except Niobe, who is the best pilot and driver in and out of the Matrix. This is of course logical since Will Smith is the best pilot in the world in Independence Day. But then, using that logic we could have Jeff Goldblum be The One and crash them with a Macintosh virus over a laptop. Morpheus rides shotgun and fiddles with the controls in the background, now firmly entrenched in Chewbacca Mode as second fiddle. His character is more pointless than the latest Bachelorette series now. Niobe and gang proceed to rip off the last scene of Final Flight of the Osiris for about 20 minutes, and I fell asleep. I just didn't care. How Morpheus has fallen! C'mon Morpheus, shove her out of that pilot's seat and gun it. Women can't drive! Haha!
Anyway, the Hammer is late in getting back so everyone just starts the war without them. I have a certain flaw in that I tend to be an armchair quarterback especially when it comes to squad tactics or fight scenes. "They should have done this" or "Why did they ever do that," but I'm sorry, the entire battle of Zion just made no sense to me. I present my grievances:
The machines employ sentinels: nightmarish squid-like robots that fly in swarms and tear things apart with their claws and short-range lasers. However, it is evidenced that the humans posess guns that shoot electricity. Why can't the machines place long-range weapons on the sentinels? They must know that humans do not posess any significant armor, and indeed, their mecha have embarassingly poor protection of the pilot inside.
We also see that the sentinel robots sometimes posess high-powered bombs that they can hurl with great accuracy. Why are these not employed to combat the human mecha?
The entire war seems like such a waste of resources. A sentinel for every man, woman, and child of Zion? Why? Humans have startlingly obvious weaknesses compared to the machines, such as the need for clean air. It seems to me that the Zionites are in a classic siege situation with no way out. They could roll some nerve gas down the hole and kill them all with virtually no casualties to their side. They could launch a dirty nuke into the chamber and let radiation finish off what the explosion doesn't kill.
Also, the violence wrought on Zion does not appear to mesh with the Architect's proclaimed story that Zion is rebuilt time after time to foster a new generation of humans. It makes sense to believe that Zion was built by machines; if you look at the sheer size of Zion, it is patently impossible to believe a group of humans could tunnel out and construct a fortified base of that size and efficiency on their own. (Strange that nobody in Zion appears to question where the base came from after only 100 years, or where their clothes come from since there is no source for fibers or plants) It further makes sense that the machines would seek an easy, efficient solution to exterminating the populace of Zion while leaving the structure intact for use again. If they destroy Zion, it only serves as evidence to future generations that there were previous inhabitants. Also, assuming machines built Zion, why did they not include a measure to disable their power and air supply, along with all their machinery? Why do the machines simply not build in access to Zion's mainframe (what Agent Smith so desperately seeks in the first movie) when it is first created?
The human mechs do not appear to ever overheat, despite the fact they fire their machine guns nearly constantly during the battle. Such prolonged use would probably make the guns useless very quickly. They also do not even appear to have working radios, and poor means of protection for the one weak point of the mech: the pilot.
Commander Goddamn's strategy for battling the machines seems desperately flawed, as well. He deploys his mecha in single file along the walkways of the docking bay. It is obvious that the force approaching Zion is entirely a group of sentinels, whose main method of attack is to swarm and rip apart their targets. The obvious strategy to combat a swarming force is to keep your enemies in front of you at all times. Thus the obvious strategy is to array the mecha along the periphery of the docking bay, facing inward with their backs to the wall. This way, the sentinels cannot get behind the mechs and any attack vector will lead them into a deadly crossfire.
We manage to hit every last war cliche we can think of in this terribly long, terribly bad war sequence. The gruff badass war veteran and the just-pubescent rookie trying to impress him, the war-wife (Zee) doing her part to be reunited with her love behind enemy lines, and everyone doing their best Rambo impression as they scream "AUUUUUUUUUGGGGGHH!!!" at the oncoming hordes of extraordinarily loud special effects. Perhaps the sequence isn't that bad, but it just feels so out of place here. It's not in the spirit of the previous movies. It has nothing to do with the Matrix. It's just...padding. Styrofoam packing peanuts. And this is supposed to be our action climax of the film. After much "AUUUUUUUUGGHHH!!!"s and "KNUCKLE UUUUAAAAAAAHHHHH!!"s and "RELOAD! RELOAD! RELOAD!"s and "GO GO GO!"s, the audience is now completely deaf (those who haven't left already). The humans' battle strategy folds like a cheap card table, and are certain to lose. It doesn't help that most of the characters that remain in Zion I actively dislike and would not feel sorry to see them die. Oddly enough, there's some red-head woman with a double-barreled rocket launcher who we are actually attached to and care about. And I don't think we ever find out her name.
AUUUUUUUGGGGGHHH!! This movie reminds me of Weird Al's fantasy sequence in UHF where he thinks he's Rambo in that chopper blowing stuff up. AAUUUUUUUUGGGGHH!!!! HOOWAAAAAAAAAA!!! RELOAD! Niobe pilots her ship to the rescue, crashing it horribly in the process (I told you women can't drive.) Morpheus lets out a mighty Chewbacca roar-- actually the script doesn't even give him THAT-- and hits the EMP blast completely disabling the advance machine forces. Gee, that was pretty smart. Why didn't we think of that?
We soon find out why because Commander Goddamn is still alive, and he's pissed. His name is Lock, or Deadbolt to his friends...which is why everyone calls him Lock. He is also perpetually pissed off (like me, only I have wit and rugged good bardic looks) and expresses his frustration and sexual repression by saying "Goddamn" every time he opens his mouth. He, of course, has every problem in the world with Morpheus saving his life. Oh I'm sorry Mr. Super Commander, you had the battle well in hand. Obviously your battle strategy was to let them tire themselves out KICKING OUR BUTTS. I'll just go home now, k? This scene induced laughter in the audience when I saw it, because we very much like to think nobody in the future will be this big a jerk. But the battle isn't over. We have to keep going deeper into Zion for our last defense.
On second thought, let's not go to Zion. It is a silly place.
Blind Lemon Neo and Carrie-Anne "Memento Rulz" Moss rocket towards the Machine Mainframe, and destiny. Even while blind and stupid, Neo can sense this movie is over-long and we need to wrap it up as quickly as possible. Neo uses his vague and confusing power to destroy an array of sentinel robots, but even he cannot stop them all. Vague, as I said. Trinity tries to escape but ends up stalling the engine. After some (not) tense moments trying to restart the motor with the lever-thingy we established eariler, Trinity manages to crash the ship anyway. (Women drivers. When will you believe me?) The value of seat belts is illustrated here, as Trinity is horribly and mortally wounded in the crash.
And here we enter the most godawful, long, painful, drawn-out death sequence I think I have ever EVER EEEEVVVVVERRRRR seen. It must have been written out longer than this rant. It sure seems like it. This sequence was boring. I mean Neil Cavuto's Putting Challenge boring. I mean Tournament Fly Fishing on OLN boring. I mean Everybody Loves Raymond boring. BORING. And not the kind of boring "I'm stuck in the DMV" kind of boring. At least at the DMV you can listen to music or look at pornography. This is the family vacation slideshow kind of boring, because you can do NOTHING but watch as Trinity dies for 30 hours. Let me get this straight, the anonymous woman that Bane kills with a single thrust from a scalpel dies in seconds without a word. And Trinity gets riddled with a dozen steel rods through her lungs and torso, and she gets a two-day farewell tour? Dramatic license is fine but COME ON. This sequence is certain to propel The Matrix Revolutions to Razzie contention. I could literally feel my life ticking away as I tried to saw through my own wrist arteries with a crude shiv crafted from a box of Mike & Ikes. PLEASE DIE!! PLEASE!!! One of us is dying tonight, Trin, and you better be first!!
Oh man I can't say enough about that scene. That was like watching Brian Dunkelman's comedy act. (You know, the ex-co-host of the first American Idol series. ...anyone?) I was more entertained picking out the popcorn hull wedged in my back molars.
Neo pushes on and meets the character known as Deus Ex Machina. Essentially a large TV screen with Louis Anderson's fat chubby face on it. I wonder where the Architect went. He was cool and weird. This is CG. I hate CG. I hate knowing the actors are talking to a tennis ball on a stick. It's bad enough knowing that they're talking to Keanu, who is essentially a tennis ball on a stick with hair. Neo makes a deal: he kills Smith, and they promise no more sequels. They jack him into the Matrix again (wait, I thought he didn't need to anymore) and he is confronted with a hellish transformed Matrix, comprised wholly of Endless Fields of Smith. All is Smith here. They're all in a foul mood because they can never wear different clothes, like sandals and bermuda shorts. And it's so very hard to tell each other apart when they play basketball.
FINALLY we're back in the Matrix after like 2 hours of NOTHING. "Missster Annnderson, welcome back. We missed you." Smith leers. Naturally there are a bajillion smiths here, each armed with a loaded pistol. Even Neo with his super speed and power would never be able to stop all those bullets in all directions. But they don't shoot him. Even Neo wouldn't be able to stop all the zillions of Smiths here in hand to hand combat. But they don't rush him. No, Smith seems to have seen the future and knows that he alone is adequate to take Neo apart. Interesting that Smith has grown a sense of fair play, but it just seems illogical not to utilize what advantage you have. We spent all this time introducing the idea that Smith can copy himself ad infinitum and now he gives up that insurmountable handicap?
But hey I'm not adverse to a good kung-fu battle between these two heated rivals. We don't GET a good kung-fu battle, however. Just special effects. In brief, the entire conflict is a protracted Dragonball Z battle, complete with dramatic flying poses, zipping around, and colliding together in massive explosions. Interestingly enough, Neo loses the battle which promptly deflates my argument against using his Smith Army. Neo allows himself to be taken over by Smith. All the Smiths look at each other, at last feeling a sense of closure. They then for no reason explode.
This would a very cool, and appropriate ending. That is, if I had ANY idea WHY this happens! Why do the Smiths explode?? Is it because the copying somehow balances this mystic matrix equation? Is it because Neo is wired into the machine mainframe, and when Smith loads his code into him, the machines erase it? WHY? We never find out why. There are only two reasons I can think of why the Wachowskis wouldn't tell us. They're either being clever or they don't even know. Knowing George Lucas, I personally vote for #2. I really have no idea what went on in this movie. I consider myself pretty smart and educated enough to recognize even some of the most obscure metaphorical imagery and symbolism. So I beg you good people, explain it to me.
The machines reverently bear Neo's body away on a floating raft into the mists of time, just like King Arthur was borne away by the Lady of the Lake to Avalon to heal his wounds so that he might return one day. And with that, we've hit every last item on our Great Epic Checklist: Arthurian parallelism. The machines retreat from Zion and we are saddened to see Commander Goddamn still breathes. The Matrix is recompiled into a much happier-looking landscape. The Oracle and Architect get together in the park. The Architect mentions something about the Oracle playing a very dangerous game with Neo, as if this entire thing went exactly to her benevolent plans. Yeah right. What's really terrible is that it doesn't seem like humanity really comes out on top at all. The machines are still an overwhelming, dominant force. Humanity is still wedged in Zion. They have more freedom than before, but they are still effectively under the total dominion of the machines. Neo really just seems to have saved humanity from one slime pit, only to cast them into another slightly less smelly one.
It sticks in my craw that the ending is so obviously a cop-out purely to lay tracks for another sequel somewhere down the road. In effect, nothing has *really* changed. It's just like it was before. We have no closure on anything-- the Merovingian, Persephone, Neo, the Kid, Morpheus, Niobe, Smith-- nothing.
It could have been so cool.