As most of you know, Matrix Revolutions was recently released. While still a substantial franchise and a guaranteed blockbuster besides, it's undeniable that the phenomenon of all things Matrix has lost considerable steam over the past seven months. Instead of descending upon theatres like the second coming of Christ, expectations for this final film in the Matrix trilogy were somewhat, shall we say, lowered following the measured disappointment with which last May's Matrix Reloaded was received.
In 1999, the original Matrix offered an intriguing concept buttressed with phenomenal special effects and just enough warmed-over philosophy to satiate the intellectual crowd. It was damn cool to look at, and it had been a long time since an action movie inspired debate and conversation beyond the 'Terminator vs. Blade' variety. Warner Bros and the oddly reclusive Wachowski brothers took what was a kickass action flick and spun it into an analogy for the artificialities of 21st century living and a wellspring of moral and philosophical truths. Fans and media alike were more than happy to eat it up.
There was no way that the subsequent films could possibly live up to the hype generated by the original; it's just unfortunate that they had to fail so completely. I know I'm the distinct minority when I say that I enjoyed The Matrix Reloaded; the acting across the board wasn't as strong (never mind Keanu Reeves specifically) and there wasn't much added to the storyline, but some of the new characters were intriguing and the fight scenes still thrilled. It wasn't as strong as The Matrix, but I didn't understand what all the bitching was about. I use the term 'bitching' lightly because, overall, people seemed to tolerate Reloaded as a bridge between the amazing first film and what would be (they hoped) an excellent finale.
What we got, instead, was one of the biggest disappointments in recent film history. One could argue the case of that dreadful Star Wars prequel known as The Phantom Menace, but somehow I find the Matrix's transgressions more offensive. Perhaps I bought into the hype too much, but there seemed to be current cultural and personal relevance in the story these movies had the potential to tell.
Simply put, The Matrix Revolutions sucks. If I was feeling particularly saucy, I might go so far as to say that it sucks balls. Speaking of balls; whilst walking out of the theatre amid the laughter of my fellow cinema goers, I theorized to a friend that the experience of watching Revolutions was probably not unlike having a man hang his testicles over one's face for two hours, during which time one would watch sweat form, pool, and subsequently drop from said testicles into one's eye.
While Reloaded still offered glimpses of the original's intrigue, there is nothing of intellectual value to be gleaned this time around. Someone should tell the Wachowskis that the story of Jesus vs. The Devil was done way better in a little novel called The Bible, and using vague religious references to simultaneously conclude your main plot as well as further complicating certain unanswered/unanswerable subplots isn't good storytelling, it's lazy. Watching this movie reminded me of the event of running into an old significant other: you distinctly remember having strong feelings for them, but damned if you could summon them up again. Without any meaningful dialogue to support them, 'stoic' turns to stupid and characters like Morpheus, Trinity and (especially) Neo are reduced to painfully one-dimensional set pieces who play second fiddle to the FX. During one such soulless interaction between Neo and Trinity, I leaned over and whispered 'You had me at hello' to my friend. Our laughter drowned out the rest of the scene's pretentious dialogue.
Without any interesting plot twists or meaningful dialogue, Revolutions is just another loud action movie. I won't even get started about the fact that it's also disturbingly clichéd. Hardcore fans may try to salvage some entertainment from the fight scenes, but even those feel empty and rehashed in spite of their supposed grandeur. The gunfight-on-the-ceiling scene plays like a minor upgrade to the original's office hallway shoot-em up, and after smirking at Keanu for the majority of the movie, watching Neo and Agent Smith (who, by the way, is one of the few positives this film has to offer) spinning through the air together at the film's conclusion in some sort of cosmic brawl/dance routine seems, well, silly.
The original Matrix's excellence only serves to accentuate the finale's numerous flaws and shortcomings. Everyone is going to watch Revolutions regardless of the overwhelmingly negative reviews (I know I did) with the mentality that it 'can't possibly be that bad'. Unfortunately, if watching Reloaded gave you a sense of longing for the original, shelling out $13 for Revolutions will have you wishing you'd just taken the blue pill and been done with it.