November 2003
© 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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The Matrix Revolutions (Warner Brothers) US Premier: 10/27
Review by Alex Lightman

SFRevu Coverage: The Matrix Revolutions / Summing Up: The Matrix Oeuvre

Official Site:

Directors: Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
Writing credits (WGA) : Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski
Cast: Mary Alice .... The Oracle / Tanveer Atwal .... Sati / Helmut Bakaitis .... The Architect / Kate Beahan .... Coat Check Girl / Francine Bell .... Councillor Grace /  Monica Bellucci .... Persephone / Rachel Blackman .... Charra / Henry Blasingame .... Deus Ex Machina (voice) / Ian Bliss .... Bane / David Bowers .... Q-Ball Gang Member #1 / Zeke Castelli .... Operations Officer Mattis / Sing Ngai .... Seraph (as Collin Chou) / Essie Davis .... Maggie / Laurence Fishburne .... Morpheus / Nona M. Gaye .... Zee (as Nona Gaye)

(This review assumes the reader has seen The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded. The accompanying essay covers the Matrix oeuvre.)

The Matrix trilogy is about birth (The Matrix), life (The Matrix Reloaded) and now death (The Matrix Revolutions).At least this is what the cast says in interviews to help the mass market get a handle on almost the seven hours of surprise, delight, and fear the movies comprise. On November 5, The Matrix Revolutions was released in cities around the world, and the world will never be the same. Revolutions is a great movie – no, several great movies. It’s a great action movie, a great science fiction movie, a great psychological thriller, and even a pretty good tragic romance.  Symbols and imprints from history, religion, and great political debates vibrate in each frame and give the series a resonance that will fuel debates for centuries to come. The Revolutions in the title refers to both to radical changes brought about by violent actions, as well as starting over, and is plural because the changes/restart occur in the Matrix, in the human world, and even in the machine world.

At the end of The Matrix Reloaded we were left with a number of loose ends: The Merovingian enraged, Neo in a coma, Agent Smith replicating himself within the Matrix and even taking over a human who ended up on the table next to helpless Neo, and thousands of Sentinels drilling their way down to Zion, the last human city. The Matrix Revolutions finds Neo in the Mobil Avenue subway station, where he meets Parvati, an Indian child that is the offspring of two other programs, one named Kamala, and the other a nice man who talks to Neo about Karma. If Jean Baudrillard’s Simulations and Simulacra was the book essence of The Matrix, then the book essence of The Matrix Revolutions, is Siddhartha by Herman Hesse. In this work, Siddhartha says, “Listen, Kamala, when Siddhartha has a goal or an aim, he falls toward his goal, unhindered and unaffected by the affairs of the world, like a stone dropped in a river”. That’s Neo, who goes through hell to achieve his objective of saving humanity.

The Matrix Revolutions shows its core characters facing problem after problem. Trinity and Morpheus must find out where Neo’s consciousness is and bring him back into the world. When they are told by the Oracle (who has changed bodies to evade the Merovingian) that Neo is trapped in the station they have a fight scene reminiscent of the lobby fight in the first film, but against opponents who can dance on the ceiling like Lionel Richie in his old video, and then have a show down with the foppish Frenchman. No sooner is Neo’s consciousness back in his body than he jacks in to consult the Oracle and press her for more answers – he’s pissed that she didn’t tell him about the Architect.

Neo has to negotiate for a ship to take him on what is seen as a suicide mission, and has a terrible fight with Agent Smith’s meat puppet, in which he is blinded but gains new powers. The action turns to Zion and Niobe (Jadda Pinkett’s captain) as the Sentinels break through the dome into Zion and humans in huge exoskeletons must blast the endless stream of Sentinels, while Niobe pilots the Hammer hovercraft down a narrow shaft even as her ship is being attacked by hundreds of Sentinels. It’s a good thing there is no Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Sentinels because we see hundreds, if not thousands, of them get destroyed, though they take dozens of humans with them.

Several Zionists exhibit genuinely inspiring heroics and save the city, at least against the first big wave. But other Sentinels are coming, and there are almost no defenses left in Zion other than a few humans with guns.

The action turns to Neo and his pilot Trinity as they attempt to be the first humans in Machine-era history to fly into the Machine City, which looks strangely like the Redwood City headquarters of Oracle, the second most profitable software company. The promotional trailer gives it away: Neo, blindfold on, extends his hand and destroys thousands of flying machines with his expanded Focus powers. Trinity takes the ship above the clouds, and gets a moment of inspiration from the sun-lit sky, before crashing the ship into the machine city.

Trinity and Neo part ways tragically, and Neo crawls out of his crumpled hovercraft. In one of the most memorable sequences of any science fiction movie Neo moves down a hallway, able to “see” the flow of data, which glows gold proportionately to bandwidth and electrical power. He encounters a spiky, scary hive mind with a face made of Sentinels, and strikes a bargain: peace with humans, in return for Neo acting as a human Norton Anti-Virus program and flushing out Agent Smith, who has shown us how evil he was earlier by absorbing the Oracle and making her yet another Smith.

The swarm-faced machine entity springs out a dozen cables that plug into Neo, who then finds himself back in the Matrix on a street filled on both sides with Agent Smiths. One Smith faces Neo, and they fight like Gods - if Gods were like Superman and knew martial arts. Smith asks Neo why, why, why like a two year old, and the world hangs in the balance. In the end, it’s what’s inside that wins the day, and determines who rules both worlds.

Will Zion be saved? What would the Oracle say to the Architect? You’ve read enough about The Matrix Revolutions. If you haven’t already, now see the movie. Please. Note that not all questions are answered, though, and the possibility of yet another sequel exists. This reviewer would go and see it – bring it on!

The Matrix Revolutions is one of the ten best science fiction movies ever made, and sets the bar very high for fight scenes, visualization of information, saving the world, and, especially, a cautionary tale about the future. The influence of The Matrix Trilogy will be so profound that it will be difficult to fully function in the 21st century without having this as series as a reference point. Watch and Learn. Perhaps you are The One.