In the final chapter of the trilogy first featured in 1999, the Wachowski brothers turn Neo’s saga into a classic confrontation between Good and Evil, and definitely clear all queries about Matrix universe... or do they not?

In may 2003 MATRIX RELOADED gave sequence to Neo (Keanu Reeves), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus’ (Laurence Fishburne) quest against the machines which had taken over the world and enslaved human kind, putting them to live an elaborated virtual reality, the Matrix, completely unaware of the dreadful reality: people are not but mere biological batteries, connected to huge machines that consume people’s energy. Nowadays, a big mistake was made by the Wachowski brothers (the creators) and Warner: the four years long delay to release the sequence for the 1999 original, which has become a milestone for being a creative mix of cheap philosophy, cyber-punk, religion, literature, comics, anime, kung-fu films, innovative special effects and so on. Problem is, during the four-year lapse, competitors flooded the screens with films showing The Matrix related theme and visual style (when not simply copied). Thus, RELOADED debut, and even filled with dazzling scenes and effects, it was far from being, to the public’s point of view, a transcendent experience as promised by hype marketing. Besides, the Wachowskis have made another strategic mistake – their decision to not to allow the media to interview them (their spokesman is producer Joel Silver) annoyed a considerable part of American reviewers, who reacted with negative RELOADED and REVOLUTIONS reviews. For sure these are not the main reasons to justify the disappointment of many fans on the last two chapters, especially this REVOLUTIONS (which, strangely enough, is mostly recognized as being better than the previous chapter, but elicited an even bigger rejection). It may be explained by MATRIX extreme originality, a cultural milestone that, as previously mentioned, is a combination of elements which, when seen isolated, have nothing new: it is the ingenious way they were combined that makes a difference. Thus, the film has gathered a legion of followers all over the world, which glimpsed there an unlimited source of new experiences and possibilities, as a movie as well as a motto. In short, they have taken it far too seriously what, in the end, and as REVOLUTIONS made it crystal clear, has been a classical fight between Good and Evil focussed on a Messiah’s, a Chosen One’s trajectory (any resemblance between Neo and Christ is NOT merely coincidental). Additionally, the disappointment was due to Wachowskis not having replayed the magical trick on the sequence films. Let us admit it, it would really be hard to get it, and I wonder even if they would need to.

According to many, this final chapter acclaims the victory of outward appearance over contents, profit over art. It is partially true, let us not be deluded: MATRIX success was unexpected, the story about having planned three films right from the beginning is sheer marketing. The two sequels, therefore, were made intended for profit, but even so, to my mind, they exceeded what one could expect from mere blockbusters. I must confess: I was getting very worried while watching REVOLUTIONS’ first half-hour of projection: Neo’s scenes trapped in the Matrix, his endless dialogues with the Indian programs, the new Oracle’s face, everything looked rather garbled talk which apparently would lead to nothing. Nevertheless, past this part and from Neo and Trinity’s departure to the Machines City, and Niobe (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and Morpheus’ coming back to Zion, the film cuts the knot and becomes a memorable sci-fi adventure. That, additionally, features the most epic and intense score of the trilogy, relying almost exclusively on Don Davis’ orchestra and choir. REVOLUTIONS is a more linear, coherent and homogenous film than RELOADED, and also the least "Matrix" of all. Being the trilogy conclusion, the plot would necessarily have to go forward, and everything that had been made within the Matrix should necessarily reflect on physical world now. The creators, no matter if for inability, for creative or even commercial decision, put many story key points outside the Matrix. Most of the greatest sequences take place on the real world: Neo’s confrontation against Agent Smith’s flesh-and-blood version, Bane (Ian Bliss); the impressive Sentinels attack to Zion; and Neo and Trinity’s arrival to the Machines City.

By opting for show "reality" most time, the Wachowskis seem to have told the masses: "Ok kids, put aside all the theories proposed in RELOADED, forget philosophy: it’s war now, it’s killing or dying: people are mutilated and dye right here. Even the heroes aren’t safe from this fate". During Zion’s battle, portrayed by impressive special effects, we can see thousands of Sentinels attacking humans that drive ‘Mechwarriors’; soldiers are mutilated, crushed, and so far secondary characters, like The Boy (Clayton Watson) and Zee (Nona Gaye), Link’s wife, show what they are made of and do heroics; aboard the ship heading to the Machines City, Neo and Trinity face the "real" Smith, in a combat which does not resemble the stylish kung-fu fights in the Matrix at all. Here, neither fashionable black clothing nor sunglasses: this time it is dirty combat, and there is also blood – and mutilation. However, even within action in physical world, the Wachowskis keep references to movies and other arts, some of them quite obvious. The flesh-and-blood Smith bears the same name of the villain who, on Batman’s comics, crippled the Dark Knight – and, in an analogous way, imposes Neo a horrid mutilation. Zion ‘Mechwarriors’ leader is named Mifune, a clear homage to Akira Kurosawa’s samurai films great actor, Toshiro Mifune. And all Zion battle is the brothers’ tribute to STAR WARS esthetics.

Nevertheless, as if coming back where everything had begun, the film greatest moment belongs to the Matrix: the final confrontation between Neo and Agent Smith (excellent Hugo Weaving), that looks like taken from a SUPERMAN film, or a live version of DRAGONBALL Z. Smith, along the films, has shown to be the richest and more contradictory character in the saga. He is a program that, ironically, turns into what he most loathes – a virus, and what makes it even worse, contaminated by a number of typically human questions and flaws. All the uncountable ways designed in the first two films converge to this final duel against Smith. It would be hardly possible to reach an end to the saga that pleased everybody. Speaking for myself, I was not disappointed, maybe for, in spite of considering THE MATRIX to be a unique film, I have never overvalued it or considered it to be more than it really is: a creative, and very good, sci-fi adventure.

Perhaps for the fact that I had not expected something outstanding, I considered the trilogy conclusion to have been more than satisfactory, in a film that, in the end, is worse than the initial chapter only. All right, I agree that Morpheus was wasted in this film, having made nothing of importance, and that – crime of all crimes – Monica Bellucci was featured playing only a minor role... but its conclusion gets the loose ends together and definitely reveals us what is, in the end, the Matrix. Or does is not?

Jorge Saldanha
English version by
Jaqueline Tergoli