Spoiler: Neo and Trinity die and the machines win. Bummer. Most of the rest makes no sense.
I hated this movie.
I didn’t hate it for its racial politics, which are the absolute worst I have ever seen. There are wise, powerful, competent, heroic Negroes everywhere. (The fact that they are all in Zion, a fictional city buried near the center of the Earth, explains why I never encounter them in real life.) There are also so many examples of South-East Asian and Polynesian mystery meat, complete with topknots and facial tattoos, that I scurried home to consult my copy of Carleton Coon’s Living Races of Mankind, which I like to call the Field Guide to Featherless Bipeds.
But as I indicated in my review of The Matrix Reloaded, I was willing to overlook the racial politics of the first two Matrix films because of their very real virtues.
No, what really offended me about Revolutions is the film’s sheer god-awful stupidity.
First, there were the continuity problems. Although Revolutions is set only hours after Reloaded, there are references backward to events that did not happen in the second film. (Or, if they did happen they were so forgettable that, well, I forgot them.) A number of characters also appeared out of nowhere, but acted as if they had already been introduced. The Oracle was played by a different mammy, as the previous mammy had died (without issue, I pray). Allusions were made to the change, but no real explanation was offered. After a while, I began to wonder if this was actually the fourth Matrix film or if the projectionist had misplaced a reel or two.
The plot of this movie is also terrible. There is simply no satisfying resolution of the story lines established in the first two films. The final act is no place to introduce new characters who play absolutely no essential role whatsoever (the Indian family in the train station). The final act is no place to bring back old characters for no particular reason (the Merovingian). The final act is no place to give center stage to forgettable non-characters who shouldn’t even have been introduced in the second movie (Link, Locke, Niobe, a Negress with the world’s biggest lips, the White Step-‘n’-Fetchit, Cornell West, etc.).
Pretty much the whole first half of the movie consisted of pointless, wasted scenes with characters I did not care about. It was nothing but fights, chases, and big brown heads looming up to robotically deliver totally uninteresting lines.
One whole sequence seemed to exist only to show the Negress Captain Niobe humiliating a White male captain by showing her superior piloting skills. The fact that on average women are inferior drivers to men because they have inferior visual-spatial skills, and the fact that the average Negro has about half a billion fewer brain cells than the average White and reacts at a much slower rate to stimuli, just go to show that this is science fiction.
And when the Zionists fight off the sentinels, we see slow-reacting blacks and browns manning the guns, while White males see to the reloading.
We are also treated to scenes of two women, one a dyke, attacking sentinel drilling machines with a bazooka. Another good use of superior female visual-spatial skills and upper-body strength.
But one subplot particularly grated on me: The idealistic White Step-‘n’-Fetchit grovels before and is dressed down by some sort of Mongoloid-Australoid hybrid who is his fearless commander. Later, after taking courage from his commander’s dying words, he goes on to complete the mission at great risk of life and limb. He is a role model for Whites in the real world created by Zion: we must all get used to taking orders from, fighting for, and dying for our racial inferiors.
Only in the second half of the movie, when the focus was mostly on Neo and Trinity trying to save the day, was my interest piqued. I wish the whole movie had been centered on the surviving core characters from the first film: Neo, Trinity, Morpheus, and Agent Smith. Competent writers could have created such a story. Incompetent writers felt the need to fill the story with new characters and pointless scenes hoping, somehow, to generate interest.
I was appalled by the sheer senselessness of the movie’s climax. A central rule of good fiction, especially science fiction, is that the story need not be possible but only plausible. The first Matrix movie established a captivatingly plausible world and pretty much stayed within the rules of that world. Ditto for the second movie. But in Revolutions the rules established by the first movie are thrown to the wind and nothing is done to make the changes plausible.
The machines have burrowed into Zion, and the Zionists are desperately fighting off great swarms of sentinels. The Zionists fight by strapping themselves into big robots, but for all their formidable technology, these robots provide absolutely no protection for their operators. They do not even have windshields, much less protection from shrapnel and Kamikaze sentinels. Stupid Zionists.
The sentinel swarms are visually striking, but I wonder why the machines just didn’t pump Zion full of Zyklon B and be done with it? (They couldn’t flood it with mud and sewage because, genetically speaking at least, it is already chock full.)
I guess the answer is provided by the Architect in Reloaded, who tells Neo that Zion is needed as a safety valve for the Matrix. Since human freedom cannot be destroyed, the Matrix needs a place to send rebellious types to keep them occupied plotting doomed revolutions.
As Zion is about to fall, Neo pilots a hovercraft to the machine city. This is a visually striking sequence too. The machines try to destroy Neo, but fail. He crashes, and Trinity is killed. Then, once he is completely vulnerable, the machines do not finish him off, but instead decide to talk. Why? No reason is given for their change of policy. It simply makes no sense.
Neo strikes a bargain with the machines. (How does he know they will keep their word? Do machines have a sense of honor?) They will call off their attack on Zion if Neo does them a favor. But doesn’t the Architect in Reloaded say that Zion will be started again by the machines no matter what, so apparently they were already going to stop the war at some point.
Agent Smith, who began to replicate himself in Reloaded (How? Why?), is beginning to run amok, absorbing other programs and taking over the matrix (How? Why?). The machines can’t stop him (Why not?). But Neo can (How?). Agent Smith even manages to take over the minds of people in the real world (How?).
The climactic battle between Neo and Smith is visually exciting, but since the rules of the matrix have been forgotten, the whole thing seems totally arbitrary.
In the midst of the battle, Smith pauses for a moment for his midlife crisis. He asks what it’s all about. Why does life go on? Why does Neo continue to fight? It is quite a speech, quite a build-up. We are led to feel that Neo’s answer will be highly significant, perhaps the key to the meaning of the whole trilogy. His answer is: “Because I choose to.”
It’s like watching the titanic labor pains of an elephant, but in the end out pops a mouse.
But Neo still defeats Smith. But how? What really happens to Smith? What was Neo’s edge? Virtue? Strength? There is no answer, so Smith could just as well have defeated Neo. It makes no sense.
After defeating Smith, Neo apparently dies and is carried off on a hovercraft like Arthur to Avalon. Freed of Smith and Neo, the machines are in the position to finish off Zion completely, but they call off the attack.
The White Step-‘n’-Fetchit sees the machines leaving. There could be any number of reasons for this, but having seen the script, he immediately concludes that the war is over and proclaims the news. The mud people begin to gyrate with joy. Zion is saved. We are supposed to feel happy, but nobody in the audience seemed particularly jubilant because by that point the movie had become numbingly uninvolving.
And what about liberating the human race from slavery? Has that been called off? Wouldn’t that be a satisfying end to the movie? Wasn’t that what the war was all about? Preserving Zion is not a victory over the machines, but part of their policy. So I guess the machines have won.
Meanwhile, back in the Matrix, the Oracle meets the Architect in a park. The Architect promises that some humans will be freed. (Of course some of them will: that is why Zion is necessary.) Then the Oracle looks off into a rainbow tinted dawn and says that she didn’t know that any of it was going to happen, she just “believed.” I guess that was the mouse’s afterbirth. What a bunch of horseshit.
Don’t waste your time with this movie. If you liked The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions can only diminish your enjoyment.