Because The Matrix Reloaded decided to end on a major cliffhanger — and what a cliffhanger it was — we needed something major to follow it up. This was always the plan though, with the latter two Matrix films being shot back-to-back. If you recall, Reloaded ended with Neo (Keanu Reeves) managing to use his amazing powers outside of the Matrix, with Smith (Hugo Weaving) finding a way to escape from the confines of the virtual reality world. What an ending! After that, I wanted to see more to get my lingering questions answered.
We begin this time around with Neo in some sort of Limbo, a place between the machine world and the Matrix. The first objective is to rescue Neo, and then saving Zion, the home of the humans, might be a good idea. See, if Zion gets invaded, the machines will be able to kill every last human that isn’t plugged into the Matrix. Obviously, that’s something that would be better of not happening, although there’s no plan at the moment on how to do that.
The most unfortunate thing this time around is that most of the action does not take place in the Matrix itself. There are a great deal of fights on the outskirts of Zion, most of which involve humans in mechs shooting at machines that look like jellyfish. Like in Reloaded, these scenes last too long, with my estimations putting the invasion/dissuasion fights lasting around a quarter of the time The Matrix Revolutions lasts. But unlike Reloaded, we don’t get humans fighting other humans, able to defy gravity and have impressive fight choreography. Instead, we get machine-looking things shooting at other machines.
There are a few action scenes inside the Matrix, and they’re (thankfully) shorter and better paced than last time. That is, up until the final action scene of the film, which didn’t make much sense in my mind, nor was it all that entertaining. There were much more impressive fights in the earlier films of the series, and even some of the earlier fights in this film.
The ending itself also wasn’t all that good. At least, I didn’t think it was. It was anti-climactic, and didn’t provide the type of closure you’d want after building up for three films. I felt as if I was cheated out of my time by the end, especially because the experience this go-round wasn’t quite as enjoyable as it previously had been with this series.
Maybe I finally got tired of everything that was happening. The characters still didn’t change much, the story was basically just another “let’s save the world” mission, and the action scenes, while still fairly entertaining, were getting stale. In sequels, you need to change things up in order to keep the audience engaged. This time, I didn’t feel the same type of connection I previously felt, and I don’t think it was just because nothing changed. After all, The Matrix is still as entertaining as ever, and it doesn’t change with every watch.
I actually still enjoyed The Matrix Reloaded. In fact, I liked it a great deal more than Revolutions, even though they suffer from a lot of the same problems. The reason for this, I believe, is because of the universe created for us. Reloaded expanded upon that universe, allowed us to experience why things happened the way they did. Everything made sense, even if you had to think about the reasoning behind it. There was a plan, and that plan was being followed up on.
This time, the universe we’d seen being created for two movies gets largely pushed aside so that we can focus on humans in mechs shooting at machines, or a couple of humans driving ship so they can go help the humans in mechs shoot at machines. By the end, the Matrix is literally crumbling around the characters, and all the hard work that’s been done doesn’t seem like it has mattered at all by the end.
There’s another reason that this was the least enjoyable Matrix movie so far: There’s a noticeable lack of depth. The other movies at least brought something to the table in terms of ideas, thoughts or pseudo-intellect. You were given something to think about as it was playing, which can help distract you from the problems that it has. This time, it’s a science-fiction action film with nothing much going on below the surface.
If there’s one thing that still works, it’s the sepcial effects. They are still integrated nearly seamlessly, and there are still some shots that will make your jaw drop. If nothing else, this is a technically sound film that should be praised as a special effects juggernaut. It’s just too bad that decent action and amazing effects can’t make up for the lack of depth or characters.
The Matrix Revolutions isn’t in the same league as The Matrix, and is only barely in the same one as The Matrix Reloaded. If Reloaded is the New York Yankees, Revolutions is the Baltimore Orioles. (My apologizes to fans of the Orioles, but your team is not very good.) There is no depth, no character development, and the Matrix itself is pushed aside for random gunfights involving mechs shooting machines. It’s not a lot of fun to watch, even if the superb visuals will occasionally leave you watching in awe.