Devolution Number Three

The Matrix RevolutionsWhat I was thinking last night while watching “The Matrix Revolutions” at the local megaplex was, “What the fuck is this movie?!” At times I was sure it was a version of “Battlefield Earth” made for people who refused to watch “Battlefield Earth;”a bloated, brutal mess of a film obsessed only with shallow spectacle. This movie sucks. It’s fraught with the kind of decadent, rampant tedium that only multimillion dollar Hollywood budgets can buy — the kind that the original “Matrix” put to shame — and weighed down even further by miserable dialogue delivered by miserably directed actors.

As one of the few people who didn’t feel completely let down by its predecessor, “The Matrix Reloaded,” my hopes for this third installment were nevertheless somewhat modest: I was looking for narrative coherence with a retroactivity clause, a movie that held itself together enough to shed some light on the tricky psycho-babble of the second installment. Fat chance. If anything, this outing makes its predecessor seem even worse, which, in its own perverse way, is quite a trick.

Agent Smiths

If there is anything remotely redeeming about this movie, it might be the climactic fight scene between Neo and Agent Smith, which is staged high above a nameless city, and which brings to vivid life the kind of airborne combat once resigned only to comic book panels. Here’s where the Wachowski Brothers finally deliver a little bit of that ol’ Matrix magic; this scene is truly something we haven’t seen before, at least not performed by human actors (and it makes somewhat tantalizing the possibility of applying such effects to a new “Superman” movie).

Above: After watching “Revolutions,” all these angry people want their money back.

But its effect is brief and insufficient, and its merits are predominately physical, where half of this franchise’s promise has always been in mind-bending quasi-theologies, that willingness to breach and fuse philosophies that pervaded much of “Reloaded.” There is in fact evidence of some kind of clumsy braininess at work here: the script is flooded with constant allusions to a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a riddle, but it is so dense and without purpose that it might be appropriate both in terms of its density and its subject matter to say that it’s been encrypted — whatever truths the directors are playing with here are so convoluted and arbitrary that it’s simply not worth trying to dig for their meanings. In fact, you can say that about the whole affair: it’s simply not worth it.


One Comment

  1. I’m not a big budget sci-fi guy AT ALL but I’ve seen the first Matrix at least thirty times. Something about that movie just got inside me and would not let up.

    After watching Reloaded and being completely flattened by the wasted potential, I absolutely refused to see Revolutions. To this day I still haven’t.

    I told myself I’d sit down someday to write Reloaded as it should have been; the problem with that film is its obsession with that muggy otherworld of raves and orgies. The first Matrix had its feet firmly planted in the real world and you could feel it better for that. For the life of me I couldn’t understand why the brothers never posited, let alone opened Reloaded with Neo and Trinity on a ranch in North Dakota, tilling the land in perfect mythical obscurity lost in one another while the Matrix threatened everything around them. That the tempation to simply forget it all never arose beyond the first film is a critical flaw in that franchise.

    Then again, I never saw the third so I could be wrong. (I felt free to post such a long reply since the topic is outdated and no one else bothered…sorry)

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