If the final episode in the Matrix trilogy were a lot more coherent, one might feel some pressure to make sense of the Wachowski Brothers' epic. As it stands, the philosophical depths at which the first film hinted turn out to be as artificial and overblown as the special effects that have defined the series. But audiences are unlikely to care much after wasting two hours with this derivative, repetitive, mess of a film.
The plot of Matrix Revolutions (rated R for sci-fi violence and brief sexual content) picks up right where the second film left off. The machines are burrowing toward Zion (the last outpost of the humans), intent on its final destruction. While everyone else in the film prepares for and engages in this final battle, Neo (Keanu Reeves) finds his fate lies elsewhere-so he spends most of the film separated from the rest of the action. Somewhere in the mix, the Wachowskis feature another dance-party orgy in an S&M club, mistakenly assuming that the matching scene in the second film was one of its highlights.
The Matrix gained a legion of fans in its first outing for three important reasons: groundbreaking special effects, a complex story that actually challenged its audience to stay with it, and the element of surprise. The latter ingredient, by its nature, can't be repeated. When The Matrix was first released, no one was expecting to find kung fu matched with Kant, or sci-fi complemented by Scripture. Since then, expectations have been, perhaps, unreasonably high for the potential of these films.
By now, it's clear that the Wachowskis are much better at potential than execution, and that's where this series should have been left. Sure, there's plenty more in the way of biblical allusions, but as was the case with The Matrix Reloaded earlier this year, the muddle of ideas makes little to no sense, and as a result has little to no resonance. The story continues to paint Neo as a Christ figure, complete with an unsubtle crucifixion. The pride many Christians previously felt in seeing biblical concepts taken seriously on screen is not likely to be resurrected by this scene.
Not only is Revolutions a disappointing conceptual conclusion to the series, it's really not much fun as a film. How many times do we need to watch Neo punch or kick Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving, who remains the best part of the trilogy) into a wall? Of course the action is technically impressive, but most audience members are likely to find their eyes glazing over during visually congested, endless special-effects sequences.