Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Matrix Revolutions

Structurally, the finale of the Matrix series seems very odd. The action sequences are bigger than they've ever been, but it seems like the main characters don't actually do a whole hell of a lot. It's not that easy to even come up with a point for the first half hour - they could have easily skipped the whole Trainman part and just had the stuff with the Oracle without much changing. It's like the Wachowski Brothers looked at the script and said, "This needs to be two hours. Let's add a few more scenes in the Matrix, even though this is supposed to be a dichotomy with the second movie or something." That whole part is basically a retread - one last gunfight, one last Trinity jump kick, one more scene with the Merovingian. And that's basically all the main supporting cast gets to do for the rest of the movie.

The main conflict takes place in the real world, as Keanu goes to confront the machines while their army launches an assault on the humans' last city. The big battle largely features people we don't care about - a bunch of nameless goons in poorly-thought-out walking tanks and mildly developed bit characters running around here and there, while Will Smith's wife and a snarky crew race there hoping to help. The whole thing goes on for about twenty minutes, after which this has happened: the robots are still coming. One of the most enjoyable sequences in the movie happens before all this though, on the other ship with Neo and Trinity; where Bane, a human whose mind has been taken over by Smith, attempts to kill his nemesis. It's the only fight in the series that doesn't feature stylish martial arts or science fiction vehicles, just a couple of guys knocking each other around and using anything in arm's reach to gain an advantage. The guy playing Bane has a spot on Smith impression, and while he could have taken business a little smarter than he did, it's an important sequence for showing how Neo's powers have extended beyond the computer simulation they started in.

Unfortunately, the other scenes with Smith aren't so great. He transforms from the cold, brutal, efficient machine he was before into a typical maniacal bad guy, complete with silly menacing laughter. He seems to become more human as he struggles harder to eradicate them as a species. That's probably intentional, but that doesn't make it enjoyable characterization. The final battle between him and Neo is pretty mixed. It has some good moments, and it's interesting to see an over the top anime-style fight put to actual film, but it gets silly pretty often and, again, ends up feeling a bit pointless. The story's resolution is satisfactory for what they built up, although I could have done without the very obvious Christian imagery. The series went a while with Neo being a non-specific savior, it seemed weird for them to suddenly tie him directly to one Religion. In the end, Revolutions wasn't the redemption most were hoping for after Reloaded. They're both pretty watchable sci-fi action, but they don't come close to the simple quality of the original.

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