Directed by:The Wachowski Brothers
Starring:Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving
OK, it's been ten days since I suffered through this travesty of a film and I've calmed down to the point where I think I can write a review without projectile vomiting or breaking out into fits of uncontrollable weeping.
Be warned, though: there will be spoilers.
Although the term is a contradiction in itself, as the film was spoilt enough before I came along. If you have any investment in, or affection for the characters that we've followed for the last 4 years, then keep it intact by not seeing this film. That's really all you need to know.
Any road up:
I really wanted to enjoy this film. The storyline behind the first film was simple and well-presented: we're living in a dream-world. The second film started to address the ways in which which the main characters deal with this fact. What could the third film do? I wasn't expecting a perfect tying up of the plot at the end, but given the philosophical discussions with which the Wachowskis surrounded the Matrix concept, I was at least expecting something intelligent and thought provoking. What I got was the moment in The Emperor's New Clothes where suddenly everyone realises the guy's not wearing any pants.
For example: Reloaded examined, peripherally, what happens when the figurehead of any movement fails to live up to expectations. Morpheus believes, but other members of Zion do not. Morpheus is completely certain that Neo will stop the war. In Morpheus's script, the story will be over by the end of film 2. But that doesn't happen. So what happens to Morpheus's certainty, his belief system? How will he react in the third film? The answer is, we don't find out. In Revolutions, Morpheus becomes copilot to Jada Pinkett-Smith's Niobe; he is inconsequential to the plot.
More broadly, how will Zion react to the fact that Neo, touted as their saviour, the person who was going to fix everything, hasn't changed anything at all? What is made of the fact that, simply by existing, he may only have made things worse? Again, we don't find out. Once they've got a number of ludicrous and pointless meetings out of the way (these folks are facing certain death, so of course they're all going to be really keen on having meetings) philosophy is abandoned in favour of lots of running around with impressive military hardware. If this is supposed to be an ironical statement against the Bush administration, then fair play, but it's teeth-grindingly dull after about 30 seconds of gunfire. And the gunfire goes on, and on, and on. I can think of better ways to spend $40 million, and - believe me - the results would last more than 14 minutes.
Much was made of the role of The Kid in both the Animatrix and Reloaded. Remember, he was the only person who ever escaped from The Matrix by himself. Clearly, he wasn't an average inhabitant of Zion, and I rather assumed he would therefore be important to the plot - why else make such a fuss about the character? In Revolutions, we discover that the Kid's great and mystical destiny is: to open a door and let Niobe and Morpheus in. What was the point of all that character development? In the end, it went nowhere. Extremely disappointing.
Carrie-Anne Moss has little to do other than demonstrate that Trinity is ready to die for Neo, and then does exactly that. Whoever wrote the script for her final scene with Neo needs taking out and beating with a very large stick. Utterly, utterly dreadful.
And while we're talking about the script; you know how sometimes you can anticipate what a character will say? In this film, it goes beyond knowing that Hugo Weaving will say "Mr. Anderson" at least three times (and why does it take Neo minutes to realise that Bane is actually Smith when he insists on calling him "Mister Anderson" with every breath? No wonder the Oracle called him "not too bright though...") I was anticipating whole chunks of plot and dialogue. Ah, Bane's going to wake up and kill the woman in sickbay. Check. Bane's going to fight Neo and Neo will win. Check. The Hammer's captain is going to be really impressed with Niobe's crazy flying. Check. Niobe's going to get back in time to save Zion. Check. I was only wrong once: when Morpheus was asked "what do we do now" I fully expected him to turn round with a meaningful stare and say "Hope." Instead he just sits there...
In compensation for the loss of the late Gloria Foster (the original Oracle) we get the great Bruce Spence (the Autogyro pilot from Mad Max 2 and 3), but he does very little to advance the plot. The whole deal with programs inhabiting the Matrix as normal families seemed confused and fits nowhere with the concept of the original film. Luckily the replacement Oracle is soon assimilated by Smith.
Smith. Ahh, the only saving grace of the film is the relish with which Hugo Weaving plays the Bad Guy. Somewhere between film 2 and film 3 Smith appears to have learnt how to fly, too - but this isn't explained. And Smith is responsible for perhaps the bigget hole in the plot: remember in Reloaded that Neo said that when Smith tried to take him over, it "felt like dying." If Smith kills people in the Matrix to copy himself, then by the end of Revolutions when by implication everyone in the Matrix is Smith, everyone in the Matrix is dead. Because Smith has taken them over. So what, exactly, is Neo hoping to achieve? What, exactly, is powering the machine city? What, exactly, occurred that would not have happened had Neo walked through the other door at the end of Reloaded?
There were one or two seconds of stunning imagery, but in a film running well over two hours they did nothing to save a dreadful, clunking robotic mess of a film that appears to have been both written and directed on autopilot.
The ending is so ham-fistedly predictable that I get the distinct impression that it was written by the Warner Bros marketing department in order to provide opportunities for further retail adventures in anime, manga, video games or (God help us) a new set of films.
We can only hope Joel Silver has more sense.
Chris's rating: Zero stars. Nada. Not one. Zip. Don't waste your money.