"I'm afraid there may be no tomorrow for any of us. Everything that had a beginning, has an end. I see the end coming. I feel the darkness rising." —The Oracle
Break out your secret decoder rings, Psych 101 textbooks and Bible, The Matrix Revolutions is here. The machines have breached the dock and Zion is about to be plundered by a horde of armor-plated, squid-like "sentinels" programmed to burrow their way into the nightmares of an entire generation.
War is inevitable as the third installment in The Matrix trilogy picks up moments after part two, The Matrix Reloaded, ground abruptly to a stop. Neo is the only one who can save the day, but his body is trapped in a coma, and his mind is trapped at the "train station" between the matrix and the real world. To free him, Morpheus, Trinity and the Oracle's personal bodyguard, Seraph, must once again face the Merovingian. Mission accomplished, the movie settles into full-scale war mode, spending the bulk of its time in Zion and its rock-wall environs rather than inside the matrix. This means fewer human-to-human confrontations and slo-mo bullets, and many more crushing encounters of the massive-machine kind.
Meanwhile, Neo huddles up with the Oracle for yet another less-than-informative tête-à-tête. Then he drags Trinity off to the machine city where he plugs into the matrix once again for a final showdown with Agent Smith. If he wins, Zion will be saved and the human race preserved. If he loses, Matrix fans everywhere will have shelled out more than a half-billion dollars for naught.
Revolutions takes a break from Neo for awhile, focusing on the individual contributions of other courageous freedom fighters. Driven by her love for her man, one woman among thousands (Zee) finds herself at the center of her city's defensive stand. A husband and wife (both digital programs) go to great lengths to save their daughter from "deletion." Numerous characters put themselves in harm's way for both individual comrades and the collective greater good.
When the story returns to Neo, he pushes aside personal confusion, pain and even blindness to choose rightly and batter down what's wrong with his world. "Why Mr. Anderson, why?" Smith hurls verbal barbs at a flagging Neo. "Why keep persisting?" Gathering his strength and catching his breath, Neo replies, "Because I choose to." Morpheus says of Neo, "I know as long as there is a single breath left in his body, he will not give up ... and neither will we."
Anyone who's ever even heard of The Matrix is aware that it is filled with spiritual imagery, innuendo and allegory. And that makes what happens in Revolutions all the more noticeable, since the veiled spiritualism, mysticism and prophetic psychobabble contained in The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded finally comes to a head in the final minutes.
[Spoiler Warning] For Neo ("the one") to triumph over Agent Smith (the digital personification of all evil, or as Isaiah 54:16 puts it, "The destroyer to work havoc"), he must surrender to his foe's terrible power. (Compare that scenario to how 2 Corinthians 5:21 refers to Christ's death on the cross: "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him"). By doing so, Neo not only saves Zion from annihilation, but he gives the inhabitants of the matrix the ability to choose freedom from the machines. (Likewise, Luke 4:18-19 finds Jesus reciting Isaiah's Messianic prophecy, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.")
How does Revolutions give visual weight to these Christ-figure parallels? While Neo's matrix body is fighting to the death with Smith, his real body lies prone in the machine world. As the battle climaxes, his body begins to writhe and then glow. Not only do his arms fall perpendicular to his body in the shape of a cross, but yellow light wells up from inside of him forming a brilliant "T" overlay. When Smith is fully defeated, the machines (personified in the shape of a face comprised of thousands of whirling sentinels) bellow, "It is done." Neo is then seemingly "resurrected" and "taken up" (by the machines) and there's an expectation that he will someday reappear (Acts 1: 6-11).
Are blatantly secular manipulations of Christ's ultimate sacrifice merely semi-instructive attempts at retelling the greatest story ever told or do they border on disrespect and blasphemy? Neo is certainly no spotless Lamb of God sent to take away the sins of the world. He's as flawed a savior as they come. Violence is his conquering MO, and his motives are rarely pure. (Additionally, the Oracle makes it clear that Neo is Smith's opposite equal, a relationship Christ certainly does not share with Satan.) Regardless of the proper answer to such a heavy, theological question, families can fall back on a more basic piece of advice included in my review of Reloaded: "Don’t let a mishmash of jargon and spiritual-sounding names and phrases cloud clear thinking. When push comes to shove, The Matrix and its sequels don’t boast enough purity of focus to allow them to be called Christian allegories. Buddhism, Hinduism, Greek mythology, Alice in Wonderland, The Terminator and Superman get just as much screen time as 'Christian' imagery, if not more. It’s as if the filmmakers know just enough about spiritual things to lace the script with engaging material, but not enough to make it all hang together."
Other specific examples of spiritual content in Revolutions include a conversation about karma, a diatribe against the idea of "truth" (it's delivered by Smith), claims by the Trainman that, "Down here, I'm God" and a line that fingers Morpheus as a man who "believes in miracles."
The camera glimpses same-sex couples dancing and groping in Merovingian's "Club Hell." Many are wearing S&M-style garb (some of the women are topless). Merovingian's main squeeze, Persephone, reveals as much of her bosom as is physically possible without completely exposing her breasts. A few women in Zion also wear cleavage-enhancing garments. One woman sports a skirt so short it doesn't even conceal her rear.
The violent ballet continues as, in the first few moments of the movie, Morpheus, Trinity and Seraph shoot it out with Merovingian's henchmen. In slow motion, men and women gracefully dodge streams of bullets, dancing on the walls and across the ceiling as if Fred Astaire's Royal Wedding ghost had been armed with submachine guns.
A man's neck is broken. A woman is impaled by metal poles. Another is stabbed with a surgical blade. Trinity is held hostage at knife point. And she puts a gun to Merovingian's head, prompting everyone in the room to pull their guns on whoever is near. Agent Smith has a nasty habit of pushing his hand into people's bodies, whereupon they become covered in a viscous black "blood." Real blood spurts from bullet exit wounds and streams down faces from lacerations and cuts (two such bloodied visages leave lasting impressions: one for the length of time the camera studies it, the other for the depth of the wounds).
Kung-fu fighting remains a key element as Trinity and Neo take on all comers. One brutal altercation culminates in Neo's face being burned by a torn electrical cable before he decapitates his attacker (since Neo has been blinded by the burn, this is seen through his "mind's eye" as though it is silhouetted against a fiery backdrop). In the matrix, Neo's final showdown with Smith includes blockbuster punches (literally, the duo wrecks entire city blocks as they pummel each other), supersonic airborne collisions and earth-shattering body slams.
To battle the onslaught of sentinels burrowing into their city, Zionist warriors saddle up in huge robotic fighting machines that function as mechanical extensions for the men's limbs. A wall of firepower targets the emerging sentinels, but they prove too numerous to contain, and the battle that follows stretches out for more than 20 minutes. The sentinels also chase Zion's flying "ships," leading to hair-raising chases. Neo has discovered he has mental powers outside the matrix, so he uses them to obliterate hundreds of attacking machines in one fell swoop.
Crude or Profane Language
God's name is merged with a profanity 11 times. "Jesus" and "Christ" are abused five times. No f-words are uttered, but the s-word is included in dialogue 15 times. That's in addition to numerous uses of milder profanities which push the total tally above 50.
Drug and Alcohol Content
The Merovingian drinks alcohol. The Oracle is rarely seen without a cigarette.
Who'd have thought that when it was all said and done, The Matrix would turn out to be about love? Revolutions leaves moviegoers with the indelible impression that love conquers all. Agent Smith rails against the concept, telling Neo that "only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love." Yet Neo draws his strength of will from his passion for Trinity. Trinity lives to love Neo. And Zee puts aside her fear and fights for Zion because she loves Link. That kind of positivity suits me just fine, but it's a pretty sappy stew for supposedly hardened, postmodern-minded Neo-phytes, don't you think?
Many of the mysteries of the matrix remain unfathomable as Revolutions' credits role. This final chapter is more a last stand at the Alamo than it is an exploration of digital loopholes or the mysteries invoked by red and blue pills. In fact, there's so much that's left unexplained here that it wouldn't surprise me at all if the now-famous Wachowski Brothers eventually pull a George Lucas and invent a follow-up trilogy to fill in more details.
As it stands, after reviewing all three Matrix movies, I'm left feeling exactly as I did in the beginning. Four years ago I wrote, "Despite all the hype, I still chalk up The Matrix as yet another post-apocalyptic war thriller. ... Don't let flimsy allusions to theological truth inspire you to see this chaotically violent head trip." I can't say it any better today.