I would like to start this post with a bit of a public service announcement: The Matrix Revolutions is the third film in The Matrix trilogy. I know this may be pretty obvious to some, but I hadn’t watched these films in nearly two decades, and since Revolutions and The Matrix Reloaded both came out in 2003–albeit 6 months apart–I was confused as to which one came first. So if you’re finding this post and haven’t read the one on Reloaded, there’s nothing I can do to force you to go back, but I do build off stuff I talked about in that review. We good? Welcome back to Pride Month, which I am celebrating once again by talking about a movie that followed a very queer coded film, but is predominantly straight. Oops.
Picking up immediately after The Matrix Reloaded, Neo in reality is in a coma, but is trapped in a sort of liminal space in the Matrix. He’s stuck there, but the Oracle–recast because the previous actress died–tells Morpheus and Trinity how to rescue him. Unfortunately, it involves dealing with the Merovingian again, this time at a BDSM rave. Neo is rescued and meets with the Oracle, the dynamic between them changed now that he knows she’s a part of the Matrix. In reality he broods on what to do while Zion is getting closer to the machines obliterating the city. Meanwhile, Agent Smith absorbs the Oracle–and her powers–into himself, becoming even more dangerous. Eventually it’s decided that Neo will go to the main machine city while the rest of the freedom fighters will race back to help Zion. Trinity goes with Neo, but stealthily so does Bane, the guy who has Agent Smith controlling his body. Zion defends itself against the machines in an exceedingly long fight sequence. Morpheus and company arrive with a well timed EMP pulse, but while that annihilates the first wave, the second wave is right behind it. Back with Neo and Trinity, Bane makes his move, trying to kill the One. He blinds Neo, but Neo has magical technology sight and can still see enough to kill Bane/Smith. Unfortunately, Trinity dies. A mournful Neo meets with the representative of the machines, adorably called Deus Ex Machina. Neo says that Smith is a threat to everything–machine and man alike–and makes a deal to defeat the viral agent in exchange for a sort of peace treaty. In the Matrix, Smith has taken over seemingly everyone, but has enough ego that only one Smith fights Neo. The One seemingly loses and gets absorbed by Smith, but that was all a part of the plan. Neo sacrificed himself so he could burn out Smith from the inside out. The Machines leave Zion alone, the humans celebrate, and the Oracle and the Architect talk about the tenuous peace.
I rewatched these sequels incorrectly. Despite being released 6 months apart, they were clearly meant to be one long movie experience. For example, Neo meets with a man in the liminal space in Revolutions, but the setup to that meeting is a brief moment in Reloaded. Even days apart, I almost forgot about that moment that seemingly went nowhere. Sure, Reloaded ended on a cliffhanger, but that’s just the end of the second act; Revolutions is a giant third act. But I’m kind of burned out on 4 hour movies, so a couple days apart will have to do.
The philosophy this time is really on the backburner, even more than the supposed WLW queer vibes (which I said last time I didn’t feel enough to tag these films “queer coded”). The main moment is when Neo met with the Oracle, and she said she had hoped to have her cookies baked before he showed up. Being the One changed him so much that he was no longer predictable by the programs that previously had anticipated his every move, thereby invalidating casual determinism. He was a sort of avatar of free will, doing what no machine or program believed he could (mostly because no one had done it before). But again, that only really comes up if Reloaded is still fresh in your mind.
I haven’t really talked about the sequel cast. I’ve mentioned Bane (Mr. Ian Bliss) and the Merovingian (Lambert Wilson), but glossed over most of the Zion fighters. They were definitely present in Reloaded, but actually had important moments in Revolutions, so let me give them some credit. Morpheus’ ex is Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith, last seen here in Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight), who is instrumental in saving Zion (also potentially dooming it when the EMP also fries all their defensive systems, but it’s okay because Neo saved them all). Replacing Tank and Dozer from The Matrix–one was killed, the other wanted more money and was killed off between films–is Link (the dreamy Harold Perrineau), whose character arc was coming to believe in Neo as the One since the surviving main character from the first film were absolutely convinced by this point. Other actors present were Harry Lenix (General Swanwick/Martian Manhunter from Zack Snyder’s Justice League), Monica Bellucci, Collin Chou, and Nathanial Lees. Some of their character names I actually remember!
And with that, The Matrix franchise is over. Wait, it’s not? There’s a fourth film coming out this year? I have no idea what it could be about, especially after looking at the cast: Neo (presumed dead), Trinity (definitely dead), Niobe, the Merovingian, and Agent Johnson (one of the other agents who may or may not have ever been named) are all confirmed. So… did the peace not last? Did the Matrix reset itself in a way that dead characters–even those who died in reality–would be sort of resurrected? Did Neo’s power make him an out of control god? I guess we’ll find out this December! I can’t wait!
That’s a lie, I don’t think this movie needs to be made. It’s a little worrying that Lilly Wachowski’s name isn’t associated with the film even as a producer (as of time of writing), but that’s all future Chwineka’s problem.
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