The Matrix Revolutions
starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Carrie-Ann Moss
3 stars

When we last saw Neo he was on a table. He'd collapsed after reaching out and zapping a bunch of squidbots, something he shouldn't have been able to do given that his superpowers are derived from his mastery of the Matrix and don't apply in the "real" world represented by the City of Zion.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you probably shouldn't see Matrix Revolutions. I do know what I'm talking about and even I was flailing around in the first few minutes trying to decode the flood of unexplained jargon and references to plot points you have to have played Enter The Matrix on Playstation to get.

The first movie The Matrix introduced the basic idea, which is that our world, the world we live in, is actually an elaborate computer program, the Matrix, while the "real" world is a nightmarescape of evil Sentinels (squidbots) where a few paste-eating humans scrounge out a living in the underground city of Zion. The Matrix Reloaded was a bizarre bloated expansion of the Matrix idea, sludgy, self-important lecture scenes interspersed with two big computer-assisted/generated action sequences dotted with kickass moments. It left the people in the Matrix, ie. us, the audience, behind and showed us how the brave citizens of Zion respond to mortal danger with life-affirming raves. Reloaded also added more texture to the machine world, showing us software personalities like the Oracle, the Architect, sneering frenchman the Merovingian and his hot wife Persephone, all of them more human and interesting than our ostensibly human heroes Neo, Trinity and Morpheus.

But while bloated and indulgent, Reloaded at least set up some questions: How did Neo stop those squidbots? Does that mean that the "real" world of Zion is itself a computer program, and if so, what lies beneath that? In Matrix Revolutions we want answers. What we get are the questions handed back to us covered with greasy finger marks and margin scribbles. Forget answers; most of the time Revolutions struggles to maintain coherency.

Revolutions kicks off with a bizarre side mission, like they accidentally switched a few pages of script with one from the video game. Neo has an unrevealing conversation in a subway station while Trinity and Morpheus briefly rough up the Merovingian to get Neo's mind back from subwayworld. Once this bit of mostly meaningless "action" is taken care of we move on to the two main events, the brave defense of Zion in which robot-suited Zioneers blast away at squidbots pouring in through cracks in the ceiling and the big Neo v. Agent Smith scrap wherein they fly around in the rain and punch each other.  

So: is there another layer of reality beneath Zion? All I can say is… maybe? Does Neo's new set of abilities derive from some deeper perception of reality? Um… yeah? Could be? In addition to his old green-tinted lines-of-code vision, Neo now has a new swirly orange way of looking at things that represents… um… the Source? Which is…?

So, Revolutions doesn't pay off or intriguingly expand any of the ideas sorta set up in Reloaded. Sad, but no surprise. What about the ass-kicking? Well, the trailer for Revolutions has a dull quality; it looks Matrixy, but nothing quite catches the imagination. Trailer = movie, folks. Not that Revolutions is devoid of elaborately staged action; you can't throw that many millions of dollars into that many hundreds of computers and not get some interesting imagery. There is, for instance, a weird strange coolness to the thousands of squidbots swirling around in tight compacted fishschools and getting blown away more less exactly as in Galaga. The huge drilling machines thunder through the roof and crunch down into the docks beneath with satisfying heaviness. Morpheus and Niobe flying one of their spaceships back through tunnels has lots of cracking into walls and cannons shooting squidbots. There's one joke in the movie, and incredibly it's Trinity's.

But nothing really stands out. Neo's big fight with multi-Smith in Reloaded was dramatically retarded, but in retrospect at least it had an iconic appeal no scene or moment in Revolutions can match. The best bit in Revolutions is… um… maybe the bit where we see Keanu's fist kinda slowmo punch/massaging Agent Smith's face? That was kinda funny. But mostly, Matrix Revolutions is just kinda dull.

In fact, I'm gonna stop calling it Revolutions; from now on it's Matrix 3, placing it perfectly alongside its brothers Jurassic Park 3, Terminator 3 and Robocop 3 as conceptually drooping and largely unnessary sequels. That Matrix 3 was planned and filmed alongside Reloaded is mystifying, but that's the Matrix. It's spooky!