In the powerful final chapter of The Matrix Trilogy
, Neo (Keanu Reeves) took another step forward in the quest for truth that began with his journey into the real world at the outset of The Matrix
- but that transformation has left him drained of his power, adrift in a no-mans-land between the Matrix and the Machine World. While Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) holds vigil of Neos comatose body, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) grapples with the revelation that The One in which he has invested a lifes worth of faith is merely another system of control invented by the architects of the Matrix. During the stunning conclusion, the rebels long quest for freedom culminates in an explosive battle, as the Machine Army wages devastation on Zion and its citizens mount an aggressive defence
The opening reels of Matrix Revolutions
do nothing to dispel the feeling of exhausted disappointment that set in during the second half of The Matrix Reloaded
. There's plenty more talky guff combined with the picking-up of hard-to-remember plot threads as Neo (Keanu Reeves) lies in a coma in the "real" world and is stranded on a tube station in a limbo "beyond the Matrix" while his allies do a reprise of the shooting-their-way-past-the-bodyguards bit from the last film (this time, the baddies can walk on the ceiling). A new Oracle (Mary Alice) makes some pronouncements about the end being near and more things happen--including the evil Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) manifesting in reality by possessing a minor character and perfidiously blinding our hero, who wears a becoming ribbon over his wounded eyes and perceives the world in an impressive "flaming truth vision".
What about the action? The equivalent of the last film's freeway chase scene is a huge face-off as the Sentinels (robot squids) finally breach the caverns of Zion, "the last human city", and swarm against a battalion of pilot-manipulated giant robots: here, the effects are seamless and the images astonishing, though the fact that none of the major characters are involved and the whole thing goes on so long as if designed to top any previous robot-on-robot screen carnage means that it becomes monotonously amazing, like watching someone else play a great computer game. After a too-easily-managed major realignment of the enmities, the film--and the series--finally delivers a sign-off sequence that's everything you could want as Neo and Smith get into a kung fu one-on-one in a rain-drenched virtual city, flying as high as Superman and Brainiac in smart suits. It comes too late to save the day and the wrap-up is both banal and incoherent, but at least this single combat is a reward for hardy veterans who've sat through seven hours of build-up. --Kim Newman
On the DVD: when the first Matrix DVD was released, with never-before-seen features such as the "Follow the White Rabbit" option, it set a benchmark against which subsequent discs were judged. But neither sequel has lived up to the original's high standards. The Matrix Revolutions two-disc set is an unexceptional package, with a routine "making of" featurette being the main bonus item. Amid all the usual backslapping guff about how great everyone is and what a great time they've all had, it's possible to glean some nuggets of useful information about the baffling plot--though cast and crew can't repress a note of weariness creeping in when discussing the horribly protracted shooting schedule. The feature on the CG Revolution is the most informative for people who like to know how everything was done, and, in the same vein, there's also a multi-angle breakdown of the Super Burly Brawl. A 3-D timeline gives a handy summary of the story so far, and there's a plug for The Matrix Online game. The anamorphic 2.40:1 picture is, of course, a real treat to look at, even if the movie is mostly shades of dark grey and dark green; soundwise the dynamic range of the Dolby Digital surround is extreme: all conversations are conducted in throaty whispers, while the action sequences will push your speakers to the limit. No DTS option, though. And as with Reloaded, there's no audio commentary either: the Wachowski's policy of not talking about their creation begins to seem like a ploy to avoid answering awkward questions. --Mark Walker