The Matrix Revolutions | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
The first "Matrix" movie was a cinematic jambalaya of post-apocalyptic science fiction, trippy camera moves, kung fu slapdowns and intriguing cyber-age metaphors that caught everybody by surprise. Installment No. 2, The Matrix Reloaded, was a needless sequel that upped the brain-teaser ante, went even further over the top with its digitally enhanced action sequences, and left this viewer, at least, wanting less.

Inevitably, here's part three, The Matrix Revolutions, a movie that probably can't live up to its franchise's cumulative hype. (What could?) It's only partly successful on its own terms, but satisfying enough as the concluding segment of the Wachowski brothers' mythologically imbued trilogy.

Romantics of a stripe, the Wachowskis build the film around three love affairs, chief among them Neo-loves-Trinity. With the world ruled by artificially intelligent machines who keep humans as batteries, Neo (Keanu Reeves) is the guy whom many denizens of the underground fortress city of free humans, Zion, believe will save them with the superpowers he's developed while jacked into the Matrix itself, a digital simulation of life as we know it. (Much of this is backstory Revolutions leaves largely unexplained.) Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) performs the film's first decisive act by risking her neck to save Neo from a virtual limbo, which the Wachowskis wittily envision as a subway station where it's never your train.

Neo is thus freed to continue battling Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), the smirking villain who has learned to replicate himself infinitely, allowing him to both take over the Matrix and make his entrée into the real world.

But if Revolutions is one-third romance and one-third science-fiction yarn, the other third is military adventure: The evil machines are drilling their way into Zion, and if something doesn't stop them, free humanity is toast. The film's centerpiece is a huge battle between Zionites, with their human-piloted fighter robots, and the remorseless flying squid-bots of the enemy. (Why these tech-savvy homo sapiens can't create remote-controlled 'bots isn't addressed.) Explosions proliferate, and squid-bots swarm thick as locusts in a digital armageddon, ending in a fiery hell-vision, but it's the weakest and most overblown sequence, further marred by characters and dialogue recycled from old war movies.

Reloaded, the most explicitly thinky third of the trilogy, ended on a series of conceptual cliffhangers about the characters' understanding of faith, free will, and the very nature of reality. Revolutions plays out these conundrums without really solving them, nor does it explain the source of the mysterious new powers Neo's begun exhibiting in the non-Matrix world. Still, the film's strongest point just might be its ending, a somewhat risky venture combining Christian narrative and Eastern religious thought in a way that seems to justify the grand purpose the Wachowskis grant their larger-than-life characters.

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