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Poor plot disappoints in ‘Matrix’ sequel

Dan Keough | Tuesday, November 11, 2003

I loved the original Matrix. I think it’s one of the greatest science fiction films of our generation. This fanaticism over the first movie might be why I am so bitter about The Matrix Revolutions. And it’s not like I had incredible expectations of which the movie fell just short. After the explosions-driven plot of The Matrix Reloaded, I was ready for the worst, or so I thought.

The movie starts out where Reloaded left off: the machines are drilling towards the human city of Zion, Neo (Keanu Reeves) is being held captive by the Merovingian (Lambert Wilson) in a train station, and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) set out to free him. Also, Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) continues his quest to eliminate Neo, which was really the only plotline that the Wachowski brothers took time to develop sufficiently. The other branches of the plot try to cover too much ground in too little time and the result is a poorly paced special effects show that leaves the audience numb and indifferent towards the fate of the humans.

The biggest shock to me was that almost the exact same crew that worked on the first movie claimed responsibility for this train wreck. From start to finish, this movie has some of the worst dialogue I’ve ever encountered. With every day that passes, I’m becoming more confident that there was a contest in Mrs. Wachowski’s Kindergarten class to write a script for her sons’ new movie. I assume that the winner got a personal pan pizza and a homework pass.

One of the most glaring flaws of this movie is that Keanu Reeves plays the main character. This is why I was initially skeptical of the first one, after having my childhood forever scarred by Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. But everything else about the original Matrix was so good, you could make a few allowances for the Keanu-isms that it contained (like “Whoa!” and “Whoa…”). Unfortunately, Revolutions offers so little to begin with, one can’t help but pay serious attention to him. And it hurts so much. Plus, the few decent actors in the movie (i.e. Hugo Weaving) had their performances totally undercut by the aforementioned horrific dialogue and direction.

The little, though much hyped, philosophical and theological symbolism in the movie is unnecessarily convoluted. The Wachowskis used what I like to refer to as the “Emperor’s New Clothes Tactic,” or, “Let’s confuse the hell out of them so if someone says they don’t like it, it’s because they’re too stupid to get it.” So far I haven’t talked to one person who has given me a satisfactory explanation of the plot.

And when there’s absolutely nothing left to say about the movie, fans inevitably comment, “At least the special effects were good, right?” Yeah, terrific. That’s like when you’re watching your favorite team getting blown out in the AFC Championship game and your mom comes in and says, “Well at least the Raiders have cute uniforms.” Special effects are like ice cream toppings, and this movie’s foundation was built solely on sprinkles, chocolate chips and those crumbled up cookie things.

All in all, if this movie had just sucked all the way through with some cool action scenes (see Reloaded), it wouldn’t have been nearly this painful. But throughout the movie there were a few brief flashes of brilliance, reminders that this cinematic atrocity is the conclusion to one of my favorite films of all time.

The minute I finish writing this article, I’m going to start pretending that the Matrix sequels don’t exist. If you never see me again, it’s because I’m off in a cave somewhere, clinging to my original Matrix DVD and trying to bend a spoon with my mind. Wish me luck.

Contact Dan Keough at dkeough@nd.edu