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Another Fundamental Matrix

‘Revolutions’ Far More Than Just an Action-Packed Spin

By Kevin Der

The Matrix Revolutions

Written and Directed by the Wachowski Bros.

Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Ann Moss, Hugo Weaving

Rated R

The tagline for The Matrix Revolutions is something like “everything that has a beginning has an end.” This sheds light on two facts: first, there will be no Matrix 4, and second, the Wachowski brothers still seem to be in the business of stating the obvious and calling it a metaphor.

If you’re wondering what the third film will be like, it is essentially the same as the first two style-wise, but far better than Reloaded, and that’s a horrible understatement. I haven’t decided if it’s better than The Matrix yet, but it’s close.

The interaction between Neo and Trinity has improved drastically, although there are still a few bothersome lines of dialogue. Keanu Reeves’ acting coach seems to have returned from vacation. And of course, there are more impressive fight scenes, although of all of those in the films, my favorite is still the subway fight. Revolutions’ best is the Superbrawl. Crashing thunder, violent tsunamis, and a level of fighting surpassing anything seen before encapsulate this climactic battle between Neo and Smith, making their skirmish in Reloaded look like a schoolyard fight.

In terms of the story, there are no real preemptive clues as to exactly what happens in Revolutions. I’ll tell you that the Merovingian makes another appearance, and that there’s a new interesting character named the Trainman, who brings real physical meaning to the term infinite loop. Characters also visit a certain place in the real world for the first time. I guess I won’t give away anything more than that.

Many questions exist, however, which the film does not answer right away. Who dies, if anyone? Why is there a new Oracle, well, aside from the fact that the previous actress died? Who’s still alive at the end, if anyone? Earlier, I witnessed two people in the Infinite corridor actually placing a bet on who dies. So certain, are you?

None of the answers to these questions particularly matter after the end, in retrospect, and even how the trilogy concludes isn’t exactly the apex of profundity. For years, I fed the theory that there was a matrix within a matrix, and that the populace of Zion, believing itself to be free, was really still trapped in another higher level procedure, er, prison. That would have been clever. I kind of shrugged after watching the real ending, being occasionally surprised at what happens, but ultimately not really caring one way or the other.

Unlike many films, here what really matters is how the story is told cinematically, not what fights and chases take place. And make no mistake -- it is told extraordinarily well. Try to notice the different ways that anime has influenced the directors’ style, for instance. Marvel at more brilliant cinematography, especially the unconventional and creative camera angles the first two films have already showcased. By demanding physically impossible trajectories from their virtual lens, the directors push their film to its breaking point. They are, in effect, coaxing the viewers to free their own minds.

Take the Superbrawl, in which the torrential downpour does not merely serve to intensify the standoff between Neo and Smith as they battle it out in the dark of night. The rain itself actually looks an awful lot like scrolling matrix code, for some reason. Might this be to serve as an interesting visual device, or to remind us that the sanctity of the matrix is at stake? It may have been placed at the purposeless whim of the directors, or maybe the similarity is simply derived from imagination. That might be the whole idea.

Revolutions also brings many of the extended religious and mythological ideas to completion. It’s fairly clear that the Matrix is an allegory of religion, but many facets of that comparison are not so obvious. I’m still pondering what the Trainman might be representing, and what in Judeo-Christianity is tied into Smith’s ability to replicate. Deducing the very intricate puzzle the Wachowskis have created is a difficult yet highly interesting task. There are so many layers of understanding to be found. Ultimately, Revolutions is only as complex as you choose to make it. Only pay attention to the kung fu and battles if that’s what you want, but just know that’s not the center of what the Matrix offers.

As the Oracle might put it, watching the Matrix films is like being taken on a long journey. It’s up to you to figure out where you went. Everyone should see Revolutions -- if not to observe what is setting the standard for filmmaking, then just to be hugely entertained.