"Goddamn it!" Get used to that phrase: you'll be hearing it a lot in The Matrix Revolutions. It's a war cry, an insult, a curse and a script-filler for moments of stress, tension, whatever. It could well be what you're saying as you walk out...
We've been told to wait for the finale, promised that all the pieces of the puzzle will fall into place. We've also been promised brain-frying spectacle. Both pledges are only half-fulfilled.
First the set-pieces. Just as Reloaded had the Burly Brawl and Highway Chase, Revolutions stands or falls on two sequences: the Siege Of Zion and the Super Brawl. The former sees 250,000 squiddies pouring through the city's breached wall to unleash tentacled hell, only to end in audience seat-shuffles as wave after wave of robot warriors begin to resemble a computer game. The Super Brawl is similarly too drawn out for its own good, Neo and Smith returning from near-destruction more times than Freddy and Jason, but it certainly gets hearts hiccuping as our nemeses slug it out on rain-drenched streets and high among the skyscrapers. That sound you hear? It's the bar being raised. Again.
As for those lingering posers... Well, truth is, The Wachowskis struggle to loop all the loose ends, overlooking plot holes and even digging new ones. Their solution, of course, is to plaster hastily over the cracks with clichés and the gaps with yet more windy, Star Trek-style dialogue. Business as usual, then. Likewise the lead performances, the primary players going through the motions with their customary expressions intact - Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) determined, Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) pouty, Neo perplexed. Thank goodness for Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith once again, all cackle, grin and grimace, bringing a real spark of evil humanity - ironically - to what is a fairly mechanical exercise.
Don't expect much in the way of revelations, either. Pseudo-mystical trappings aside, it's all very much been there, seen that. Even other set-pieces disappoint; for example, The Club Hell shootout feels like a reheated version of earlier, lobby-set glories, the slo-mo pyrotechnics losing their fizz as the wow-factor seeps away. That clunk you hear? It's the bar being dropped...
For all its excess and philosophical posturing, Reloaded felt fresher than this. Revolutions is average sci-fi fare that occasionally soars into hyperspace. It's not, unfortunately, the Staggering Finale we were hoping for. Goddamn it.
Blowing the budget on an FX-laden techno-war climax means there's plenty of action muscle. Shame about the brain, though...
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