We are now at the 20th Anniversary of The Matrix being released in theaters so I figured it would be fitting to add the final installment in that trilogy to my list of Final Chapter reviews. We’re only a few weeks away from Avengers: Endgame as I do this so I got time for one, maybe two more after this one. The Matrix was a truly groundbreaking movie in terms of special effects and fight scenes, and took the Man vs Intelligent Machine/Computer concept to movies in ways that Tron failed to achieve and the Terminator films did not go all the way into. It was about Neo (Keanu Reeves), a computer programmer/hacker who was kinda just living his life when he was found and rescued by a band of cyber outlaws led by Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss) and told he was The One who would fulfill a prophecy and free humanity from it’s enslavement at the hand of machines. The twist was that we didn’t know we were enslaved because we were plugged into a computer simulation of the real world and didn’t know. It was a surprise hit in that it dropped during what used to be throwaway season and ended up doing quite well, with $463 million worldwide made off of a $60 million production budget. Which of course meant that the sequels were coming. And that’s where the problems began.
The next chapter was The Matrix Reloaded, which saw a powered up Neo and his friends attempt to……….well……….this is going to take a minute. The machines figured out where the escaped humans were hiding out and were on the way, leaving only 72 hours to find the man/program at the heart of it all (named the Architect) and figure out how to shut it all down first. Meanwhile Agent Smith, the final boss super agent of the machines who Neo seemed to have defeated at the end of the first film, was still alive and had mutated into a more powerful version of himself. Smith had become a corrupted program and was running around the Matrix killing other programs and absorbing them into himself. He wasn’t working for the machines any more he was just out there for himself. From there a lot of hijinks ensued until a really convoluted final 15 to 20 minutes that turned everything on its head, and not in a good way.
They find the architect, but he tells Neo that he isn’t really The One, he’s just the latest in a succession of ‘Ones’ that are generated in the Matrix and always reach this point before deciding to and take a few people with him and reboot the Matrix or stay in and keep going on until the system crashes and kills everyone. And now he has to choose which way he’s going to go. So Neo chooses to go back in, mainly to save Trinity from the death he’s been having nightmares about. He saves her with his newfound plot device, I mean power to reach inside her body and heal the bullet wounds that were killing her. They escape, get back out of the Matrix but are found by some of the machine drones that are out looking for people in the real world. Neo stops the drones with another new power that has followed him to the real world but falls unconscious in the process. And….scene. Yeah it’s as messy as it sounds.
So the second chapter ended up bumming a lot of people out, which dampened the enthusiasm for the third and final installment The Matrix Revolutions, which hit theaters just a few months after Reloaded. Instead of being excited to see how the story would end a lot of people who were left confused by Reloaded ended up tapping out and skipping Revolutions. I was one of those people and didn’t watch it until much later. So what did I think of it all? Let’s see. But first, the rundown:
This is the one part of the whole thing that stayed pretty simple. The machines needed to be found and stopped permanently before their drones reached Zion, the good guys hiding place. But first, Neo needed to wake up from his comatose state so he can play his part. Once he wakes up, he gets the idea to go directly to the machines city and face them directly while Morpheus leads the defense forces at Zion to fend off the drone invasion.
While we were sleeping
Neo has been out cold, the machine drones have been getting closer to Zion, and Agent Smith has been going around absorbing other programs in the Matrix.
This one takes place mostly in the real world and not inside the Matrix in what is a reversal of how Reloaded went. But first Morpheus and Trinity go back to try and pull Neo out of his coma. Neo goes back in the Matrix to meet the Oracle, who has power to see the future and has helped them before, and she tells him that Smith intends to destroy both the Matrix and the Real World, essentially changing what the final objective is. Instead of beating the machines now it’s stopping Agent Smith. So Neo’s big idea ends up being to try and get to the machine city and talk them into working together against Smith before he kills everybody.
Neo and Trinity head off to find the Machine City but unbeknownst to them Bane, a human who has been turned by Agent Smith, stowed away on their ship and takes Trinity hostage. He and Neo fight, he blinds Neo but ultimately Neo kills him. Then it’s off to the Machine city. They get there but not before being attacked with a bunch of missiles and forced to crash land. The crash kills Trinity, so now Neo is alone and blind but now has some kind of super sight powers. He talks to the machines, makes a deal, and then plugs in one more time for the big final boss fight with Smith. The machines call off the attack on Zion, Neo beats Smith (seemingly giving his life in the process), and the Architect reappears with the Oracle and allows anyone who wants out of the Matrix to get out.
The Matrix gets rebooted, Smith is permanently deleted, Morpheus and the surviving humans celebrate, and there is peace between the Machines and humanity for now. Neo is seemingly dead but the Oracle tells her child helper that she thinks they’ll see him again.
Oh boy……this thing was all over the map. I don’t think you have to explain everything but boy did they leave out some things that I think would have helped. For one, over the course of three films they never made a convincing argument as to why you’d want to get out of the Matrix other than ‘freedom’. There’s nothing the people outside of the Matrix are doing that can’t be done inside – people have relationships, jobs, meals, etc – and there are no discernable consequences of living your whole life inside as opposed to outside. Contrast that with Ready Player One, which communicated that there were bad things that could happen if you spent too much time and energy in it’s Matrix-esque Oasis. Given that the real world was a war ravaged wasteland and the Matrix was not, what was there to gain by getting out? You’re gonna die eventually either way.
But that’s not all. Trinity’s death was pretty anticlimactic. Given that a big plot point of Reloaded was that Neo was compromised by his love for her and likely to make a bad decision or two as a result, you would think that if she was going to die that him not trying to stop it and letting her do whatever it was that would have led to it would have been a thing here. I mean seriously, at the end of Reloaded he decided to leave the entire system on the road to crashing and killing everyone so he could go save her so to not have that lead to another decision point where he has to choose whether or not to cling too hard to her to the detriment of everyone else kinda renders the first one moot in m y opinion. Instead of that she just gets killed off in a way that makes it seem like they just ran out of things for her to do in the story.
Then there’s the whole ‘powers in the real world’ thing. Why? What was the point? They essentially broke their established rules, that being in the Matrix allows you to do thing you could not do in the real world, and for what? So Neo could stop some but not all of a bunch of missiles fired at the ship. Again this feels like something to get Trinity out of the picture when her supposed usefulness had ended; Neo can’t stop all the missiles with his new power so the ship gets damaged and crashes and the crash kills Trinity. You tell me if there was any other purpose served. It just feels to me like more tacked on stuff that wasn’t thought out very well before it was added in.
So no, I didn’t like this one much. And it looks like I wasn’t alone. This one cost $150 million to make and only grossed $427 million worldwide, essentially relying on the overseas take to turn a profit of any kind. That was a sharp drop from Reloaded’s $742 million worldwide take on the same budget. Seems like a lot of people were super hyped for Reloaded and by movie’s end were not too hyped for Revolutions. The last 20 minutes of the former needed to be cleaned up in this film along with a cleaner path being set for the final confrontation and it’s aftermath. Neither of those really happened here in my opinion. So as a final chapter, I gotta say this one doesn’t pass muster. Well, onto the next one…..