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With: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving, Harold Perrineau Jr., Jada Pinkett Smith, Monica Bellucci
Written by: Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski (The Wachowski Brothers)
Directed by: Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski (The Wachowski Brothers)
MPAA Rating: R for sci-fi violence and brief sexual content
Running Time: 129
Date: 10/27/2003

The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

1 Star (out of 4)

A 'Revolutions' With No Revelation

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Blah, blah, blah. The first hour of The Matrix Revolutions, the thirdfilm in the Matrix trilogy, just babbles on and on and on. It's alltalk and no action. But it's not just talk; it doesn't sound in any waylike real conversation or like people who actually have something tosay. It sounds like bad writers trying to get across an overlycomplicated version of a simplistic plot and trying to wrap it up in ahurry.

Yes, for all its comic-book wisdom and video-game philosophy, the grand plot of the Matrix films comes down to this: Man vs. Machine, a battle Fritz Lang waged and won all the way back in 1926 with Metropolis.

So we're not talking anything new here, except that the "man" part of the battle plays like just another machine. No one in The Matrix Revolutions exhibits enough personality to make us care for one second what actually happens. In essence, we're watching machines vs. machines, a two hour-plus demonstration of the latest in computer special effects with nothing to break the monotony of the razzle-dazzle.

I've never missed Joe Pantoliano more in all my life. In the original Matrix, he played a key character with a key scene. Given a choice to remain awake and in the real world, or to go back to sleep and live unaware in the Matrix, he chose the latter. He was a deliciously human ingredient in that first film, and a funny one besides.

The recent X2: X-Men United provides a good example of the right way to make a comic-book movie. It starts with a kid's comic-book story and injects some grown-up ideas into it. However extraordinary, characters in that movie suffer the pangs of day-to-day life -- and we relate to them.

The problem with The Matrix Revolutions comes from writer/director team Larry and Andy Wachowski, whose script sounds as if it were doctored by Ed Wood. It cobbles together whole scenes from Star Wars movies, Star Trek movies, Alien movies, Terminator movies, old war movies and comic books. When Quentin Tarantino does something similar, as in Kill Bill -- Vol. 1, he scrambles it all up and re-focuses it through his own gleeful sensibility. The Wachowskis simply change the names and places and try not to get in the way.

As a result, every line that drops out of an actor's mouth sounds like a stale chestnut. You want to feel sorry for good actors like Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Harold Perrineau Jr. and Jada Pinkett Smith. And poor Monica Bellucci appears in one scene; she's basically asked to pose and look sexy. But you know they've been well-paid and that this sequel will gross a fortune.

And Keanu Reeves, who has a definite movie-star charisma, should have known better. He once showed the unerring good taste to turn down the Speed sequel, a decision that made him look downright prophetic. Too bad he couldn't repeat the trick.

But this time it's not his fault. His Neo character barely appears in this new sequel, turning up on screen for maybe one- fourth of the film's 129-minute running time. Not much for "The Chosen One."

So when the climactic battle comes, it has no anticipation, no suspense, and not even any surprise. The Wachowskis have already used up their entire bag of tricks on the first two films, and they've even been out-CGIed this year by the likes of Finding Nemo.

Not two or 10 or 20,000 of those flying metal tentacled things can equal the sense of awe surrounding Marlin and Dory trapped in the whale's mouth.

What happened to the Wachowskis? Can they have regressed this far?

Their debut film, Bound, was a deliciously twisted, intelligently adult thriller. The Matrix made clever use of one extraordinary science fiction idea and lots of great fight scenes. The Matrix Reloaded barely passed muster on the fight scenes alone, and now the childish The Matrix Revolutions offers... nothing.

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