The Matrix: Revolting

November 9th, 2003  |  Published in Uncategorized

which is flayed with some accuracy by James Berardinelli.

I was left as non-plussed by “Revolutions” as I was


which is a shocking comment on how far things degenerated between the

original and its sequels. Perhaps all the Wachowskis were ever really

up for were the twin moments of Trinity’s first fight in the opening

scene and the moment when Neo is awakened in his pod. What has come

after hasn’t come near the impact of those moments, and as a certified

member of the “Neo can stop the sentinels because ‘the real world’

isn’t,” club I’d say they dropped the one good opportunity they had to

recreate those moments in the sequels.

As it is things fall flat and come off, somehow, as listless and

by-the-numbers. Some of that is the unfortunate division into several

plot lines: Neo’s trip to the machine city and battle with Agent

Smith, Niobe and Morpheus’ flight to Zion, and the defense of Zion.

Niobe’s story could have been discarded altogether with little lost

except a chase scene, and with the gain of reclaiming Morpheus for a

more useful thread. Until Neo came into his own, Morpheus was the

badass of the original cast, and in “Revolutions” he’s reduced to

sitting around and co-piloting. Not only is there a sense that

narrative economy has been squandered to squeeze in a chase scene,

there’s a sense that one of the more interesting players was

needlessly sidelined to enhance our sense of investment in that chase.

The defense of Zion, while rousing at points by dint of its sheer

volume, ate screen time with special effects of such improbable

magnitude that I was yanked out of the moment time and time again. As

several reviewers have noted, the battle sequences felt more like

video game tie-in opportunities than things that were intrinsic to the

plot, since it’s almost immediately clear that regardless of how well

Zion defends itself, its survival will depend on Neo’s actions.

Neo’s story, in which he receives the last bits of knowledge he

needs to complete his transformation from clueless nerd to messiah,

had the most potential, but it was reduced, in the end, to a big fist

fight with Agent Smith, who’s still spending most of his time

complaining about smelly humans. While Smith was a great foil in the

first movie, it seems wrong to turn him into the putative Satan of an

allegory wrapped up in the idea that evil lies not in the

functionaries (“the woman in the red dress” training sequence in the

first movie made that point), but in the very “matrix” in which good

and evil contend.

But wondering if Agent Smith is properly used begins crossing me

into the territory of issues with the content of the film as opposed

to its form, and I’m still not sure if better content would have

helped me overcome the generic and confused form, or if that troubled

form would have dulled some of the joy good content would have


Considering my enjoyment of “The Animatrix,” which involved several

simple stories that further explored the dynamics of the world in which

The Matrix exists, I’m inclined to say they could have botched the

mechanics quite a bit and gotten away with it, if those nagging issues

of content had been dealt with better. But they didn’t, and I’m a

little surprised to note that my disappointment is less the angry

seething of a fan betrayed and more the dull indifference of an

audience member taken for yet another ride by the Hollywood hype machine.

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