The Matrix Revolutions continues where its predecessor (and the one before that) left off, with Zion on the brink of invasion and Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne) off the deep end of religious zealotry.
If déjà vu is a glitch in the Matrix then Revolutions is riddled with them, repeating Reloaded‘s habit of going room to room to meet yet another character designed specifically to dispense some infuriatingly non-specific bit of exposition. Every other line in these sequels is some variant on “I know only what I need to know” or “No matter where you go, there you are.” Or was that Buckaroo Banzai? Where it surpasses the second chapter is by finally getting to the war between the humans and the machines, so at least we understand the stakes if not the specifics.
It’s a shame then that so much of the fighting takes place in the real world (and what little in-Matrix action there is appears disappointingly Zack Snyderish) since this environment lacks the franchise’s iconic style and martial arts. The anime fan service in the form of exosuited humans battling robotic squids is as Wachowski as (there is no) apple pie, while most of the action sequences repeat those of the previous movies but with more stuff: more guns, more Sentinels (easily dispensable scouts that have inexplicably become the machines’ primary form of attack) and more Smiths (Hugo Weaving), one of many gags that the series has had to follow through to its ridiculous conclusion.
Compared to the middle instalment, the visual effects are vastly improved, the tone is weightier and the Neo-Trinity relationship (Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss) feels tangible for the first time (although the emphasis has largely shifted onto barely introduced characters from the end of the last film). But the lacklustre ending doubles down on the fate-based, Biblical understanding of the world so at odds with the trilogy’s futuristic, free will-espousing sci-fi, resulting in a stronger effort than Reloaded but a less than satisfying conclusion. There’s a reason it’s not called The Matrix Resolutions.