There is an important thing to get out of the way. This movie is not about good, Oscar acting. But the fault does not entirely rest upon Keanu or the rest of the cast. The consistent lack of emotion seems to be purposeful. Also, the script leaves the actors little to work with. At worst, the dialogue is terrible, and at best it is predictable. But predictable can be fun. In fact, so can B-movies. And if you go to the theater expecting a B-movie, you are right, and you are going to get the most lavish and wonderful B-movie you will ever see. If you allow this movie to move you, it will move you all back and forth in your chair. It keeps you nervous on the edge of it and scared way at the back.
Though it is easy to dismiss the script, you should not. The Wachowski brothers began their writing careers writing comic books. Their dialogue in “The Matrix: Revolutions” derives from those speech bubbles. And because the story and the visuals are couched in the comic book, the dialogue may be forgiven because it belongs.
The visuals cannot afford to look bad, considering how much they cost. And they do look spectacular. Some scenes would make Magritte jealous — the Mr. Smith scenes, of course. This third movie perfects “Reloaded’s” massively repetitious use of Mr. Smith. You might have seen (how could you miss the advertisements?) a clip from the final showdown. A thousand Mr. Smiths flood the sidewalks, and the rain — a ton of water per minute — floods the sky. The frame bears the look of the most terrifying cityscape imaginable.
The Wachowski brothers did a splendid job reinterpreting this showdown. They take it from its Western roots, theorize it, and then endow it with all the super power of the comic book genre. “Revolutions” realizes that it does not need to have a thousand agents fighting Neo. Just Mr. Smith will do. That choice — to go mano a mano — is emblematic of the trilogy. It speaks to the power of the individual. It canonizes the power of human choice. And because it is blockbuster, it makes Descartes cinematic and available to millions of people around the globe.
The imagination behind the look of the machine world, too, deserves praise — as do the teams of computer graphic experts who animated that world. The machines hurdled upon Zion move with the alacrity of underwater fauna. Their quickness is startling, and their numbers, overwhelming. Doom is upon the last bastion of freethinkers. In response, the human effort to survive is both tangible and gripping. And if you are not one of those hand-squeezers, perhaps you will allow yourself to be humored by the spectacle.
In relation to the trilogy, “Revolutions” does a respectable job as an end piece. Though all the money in the budget — roughly three times as large as the first installment’s — could still not upstage the original, “Revolutions” certainly offers bang for the buck. “The Matrix” is more than a movie. It is a cultural marker. It speaks to the fears and possibilities of the Internet age. The kind of worldwide reception it got is a dream for any filmmaker or filmgoer. That its sequels have capitalized upon the success of the first speaks to the other major force of our modern world: capitalism. But beneath an anxious desire to entertain today’s spenders, there is something more to take from the “Revolutions” — a feeling of solidarity. It thus becomes an ironic but powerful statement made from the mouth of capitalism.