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Matrix Regurgitated Revolutions

It sucks.

Really, really sucks.

Mark Steyn has a equally damning review of the film in this week’s Spectator (no link, I am afraid) where he also has no time for the portentous, and pretentious, manner in which everyone speaks:

“I’m afraid hope is an indulgence I don’t have time for”. Or maybe “Indulgence is a hope I don’t have time for”. Or “time is a hope I don’t have indulgence for”. Makes no difference. It’s modular furniture.

Oh, and plenty of cod theology, just like in the last one

The only good moment in the film is during the fight between Neo and Agent Smith who angrily and hatefully asks Neo the big WHY. Why does he fight him, why does he fight at all?! Himself, other people, duty, honour, or even something as insipid as love? The answer is Because I have a choice.

And. you. dear reader. have. a choice. of not. going. to see. the film.

46 comments to Matrix Regurgitated Revolutions

  • Right on. It was awful. And where was the revolution in the title? A more fitting name would have been “The Matrix: Temporary Cease Fire”

  • JayN

    Unduly harsh I think. I don’t know what you guys we’re expecting but I went in not expecting much and enjoyed the film for the action and the spectacle. Not as good as the first one, better than the last one, a satisfactory evenings entertainment.

  • debbie

    What a God awful movie……….2 hours of my life Ill never get back……I wanted to see how it ended,
    but it was such gobblety gook I still have no idea.

    good news tho,……less than 6 weeks til “Return of the King”!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I’m with Gabriel. I thought it really, really, really sucked.

  • DFenstrate

    How about I give you the finger, and you give me my $8.50 back?

  • Dale Amon

    I’ll be going and I will probably enjoy it. They blow a lot of things up don’t they?

  • I saw the first one and I thought THAT sucked- I can’t imagine any circumstances that I would be willing to pay money to watch either sequel.

  • Neel Krishnaswami

    I liked it. It had robots. It had kung-fu. It had robots versus kung fu. And they threw in some big explosions, too, just for kicks. If it were up to me, I’d have tilted the balance towards a little more kung fu and a little less robots, but it was still an enjoyable action movie.

  • I thought Reloaded was sucky at first until I watched a couple of times more at home on DVD and realised it was actually pretty good. So there’s no way I’m going to make the mistake of saying Revolutions sucked after seeing it in a shitty little cinema with a curvy (and narrow) screen, lousy picture, sound no better than watching at home, all while sitting in a narrow little seat. I’ll wait until the DVD then watch in full widescreen with big 6.1 sound and hi-res picture complete with fag-‘n-piss breaks when I want them.

    In short: it looked OK, but I’d need another viewing to decide.

  • And what about guns gunning all over the place? Like the anthological building’s atrium big gun entry with lots of walls flying into pieces and a bit of kung-fu?
    I liked that in the first and always deplored the “Let’s just have kung-fu this time” in the second. Kung-fucking boring if you ask me.

    I need guns, lots of guns.

  • ray

    Yeah, that “hope” thing. Pretentious and absurd. Jarring to the ears. Why didn’t he just say it the right way? “Hope is not a method.”

  • Byron

    I’m surprised Samizdata readers are so harsh toward Reloaded and Revolutions, considering that the fundamental philosophical conflict of these movies is the same one we libertarians are involved in in the real world. The Materialism of the machines (and of Marxism/Communism/Socialism) vs. the Idealism of the humans. Causality vs. Free Will. Are humans simply organic machines, doomed to a lifetime of responding to external stimuli as our genetic programming dictates, or are the decisions we think we make in life truly the result of our individual free will? This trilogy is an original, stylish new portrayal of ages old philosophical theories that have had the most profound effect on our own society since the discovery of fire. Without these philisophies, neither Marxism, Communism, nor American Liberalism (the classical kind) would have existed, and we’d most likely still be living in feudal kingdoms. I’m sorry so many people couldn’t see past the uninspired dialogue to the bigger picture, and I hope it hasn’t turned Hollywood off to trying something as ambitious and challenging again soon.

  • Scott

    I felt pretty let-down when I first left the cinema. I didn’t have any expecations about the main story arc, which I actually liked. But it didn’t *feel* like a “Matrix” movie to me. I’m not saying it’s all about kung fu, but the first two set certain precedents in terms of action and this movie failed to deliver on that. Yes, the last stand of Zion was impressive, but it felt more like something out of Attack of the Clones, though it was grittier and bloodier. And I guess the Smith-Neo fight was pretty cool, but it was two guys in dark suits fighting in a thunderstorm at night. How many shock waves and craters do we have to see? The scene kind of reminded me of something out of “Daredevil”.

    That said, the movie is growing on me after having several days to digest it. I think it ultimately delivers on the big themes raised in the earlier films. Agent Smith is a delight to watch — the scene in which he confronts the Oracle is classic.

    I’ve participated in some great discussion threads (at http://www.scottmanning.com and http://www.kottke.org) in which people have had some really good insights. It is rare for Hollywood movies to spark this kind of discussion and thought. I think Byron’s on the right track with his comment that the themes are perfect fodder for sites like Samizdata. I do, however, disagree that there is an overt political analogy at work in the movies. In fact, given that in the Architect’s scene in “Reloaded”, when he talks about the “grotesqueries” of mankind, images of Bush Sr and Bush Jr appear on the monitors, alongside Hitler, I think the Wachowskis political sympathies are likely the opposite of much of what is found here.

    (As an aside, check out James Lileks’s righteous fisking of the incomprehensible blather produced by Harry Knowles who likened the machines to capitalism and corporations, and Neo to bin Laden, who apparently is a hero hiding out in his caves taking on the evil forces of free markets!)

    Ultimately I think the films allow people to find their own meanings, and that instead of handing us preformed answers, we should listen to the Oracle when she says, “You’ll just have to make up your own damn mind.”

  • Scott

    Another thing, the Wachowskis are self-professed comics fans, and since they have said “The Matrix” was conceived as a trilogy, I think it makes sense to watch the filims as a graphic novel brought to the screen. Apart from the visuals, I think the films will work better when together. The problem with releasing sequels is that it gives time for expectations to build. This is great for box office numbers and marketing buzz, but in the case of these movies, I think they were hurt in a way by the sheer amount of speculation that went on concerning what was going to happen. I mean, some of the theories posted out there were really amazing, better than what we actually got in some cases. And with sequels, we want more of the same, only an order of magnitude greater. I think the action sequences in “Reloaded” were light years ahead of the original. Many — myself included — expected similar things from “Revolutions”, only to be handed something very different. For me, the changes to visual flair and storytelling style make sense when I think of the trilogy as a single entity that ended up dropping me off at a very different place than I expected when I started.

  • Byron

    Agreed that you have to watch all three movies as a whole to achieve the best effect, at least as far as finding meaning and understanding go. Although, the first was more of an appetizer while Reloaded and Revolutions were the main course.

    I didn’t mean to imply that the Wachowski’s intended an overt political statement, but the fact is you can’t make a story so heavily based on philosophy without actually involving it in politics, since philosophy is the basis of politics. As for the machines=capitalists, Neo=bin Laden theory, that would be easy to shoot down. The parallels between the machine world and the ideal Marxist society are way too strong for that theory to have any traction. I suspect that whoever came up with that theory was simply trying to do what Marxists have always done – twist the truth to suit their own propaganda purposes.

  • it.cannot.be.that.bad!

    Gabriel, I’m gonna see it this week in an IMAX theatre, and you’re not gonna spoil my fun!

    (even though I must agree that the Reloaded sucked, big time)

  • Scott

    Most people would probably agree that a central theme of the movies is the struggle to break free of a stifling and dangerous conformity. Yet viewers will apply that in different ways. I’m with you in that I see it best reflected in statism versus individualism. But I can see how someone of the opposite political bent might draw different analogies. Just like how I prefer to tease out libertarian threads from Tolkien’s masterpiece, while others might zero in on his disdain for industry to reinforce their political agendas. That’s great and can make for some fantastic debates.

  • John Nowak

    >I’m surprised Samizdata readers are so harsh toward Reloaded and Revolutions, considering that the fundamental philosophical conflict of these movies is the same one we libertarians are involved in in the real world.

    I didn’t care for the first Matrix film and did not see the sequels.

    Nevertheless, libertarians would agree that there should not be laws to prevent men from dressing in women’s clothing. This does not obligate libertarians to believe that _Glenn or Glenda_ was a good movie.

  • Dave F

    Watching the DVD of The Mat rix Reloaded” having felt very let down by it on the big screen, it dawned on me that what went wrong after the first one was that it was one of a kind and had it not been such a hugely unexpected hit, that is what it would have been. The Matrix would then have been in my top 100 list.

    All the elements that made the first film so compelling have been jettisoned in the second (and I assume in the third): its noir feel, its less obvious references to gnosticism. Alice in Wonderland, the Wizard of Oz — and the whole smorgasbord of theological references — the wit, the originality of the fight sequences, the darkness of the characters, the elements of surprise and otherness.

    Despite Joel Silver’s protestations to the contrary, the trilogy was motivated by greed, not by original intention; and it had the effect that the particular sensibility of the Wachowski brothers, which is very evident in the earlier and very fine Bound, was lost in the wash as the b rothers were given a green light and virtually limitless spending power to wallow in comic book philosophy.

    The enterprise was a dead duck when it became the latest vehicle for sequelitis.

  • R C Dean

    Saw it. Didn’t like it. No momentum. Bad pacing. Way too much hippie Zion crap. Not enought cool, dark, mindbending Matrix action. I mean, c’mon, you’ve got a worldclass bad guy like the Merovingian, and you give all the screen time to the Oracle? That’s just dumb. Big letdown at the end, too.

    Liked the battle for Zion (big robots with dual chainguns!!), at least until it went on way too long with repetitive scenes.

    Too bad. I’ll still get the set on DVD, though.

  • Verity

    Debbie … Elvis?

  • semm

    Oh come on people it was a hollywood movie! If you couldnt enjoy it for its action sequences and special effects while ignoring the on and off cheeyness then I’d have to way you are wound waaaaay to tight.

    It was a fun movie, just dont go trying to build a religion or ideology around it and you’ll be fine.

  • FeloniousPunk

    Dave F –

    You have a personal Top 100? How do you go about categorizing so many personal favorite films? What puts favorite #47 ahead of, say, #48?

  • ernest young

    The trouble with watching, (and paying good cash), to watch such utter drivel, is that it pollutes your mind and makes the next load of crap more acceptable.

    The whirling Dervish ‘action’ scenes, made about as much sense as watching disco lights.

    As with porn, the more you watch, the lower your your intellect goes.

    It just shows how desperate folk are for entertainment, that they are prepared to sit and watch this stuff and then to justify their wasting so much time, they award cult status to something as phoney as this trilogy.

  • Byron

    It just shows how desperate folk are for entertainment, that they are prepared to sit and watch this stuff and then to justify their wasting so much time, they award cult status to something as phoney as this trilogy.

    Or maybe it shows how folks with an already low intellect justify or hide their lack of understanding by shrilly complaining about the little things like pacing and momentum.

  • ernest young


    That people with a low intellect would be the ones to see this stuff, goes without saying….the level of enjoyment would seem to equate to the level of intellect….the lower the intellect, the more the enjoyment.

    Just what was there to understand? It didn’t even have the benefit of a decent story line.

    But I am sure that some trainee ‘pseud’, will come up with some hidden message.

  • R. C. Dean

    Byron – I’ll put my intellect up against yours any day, so can the cheap insults and stick to the substance.

    To believe that pacing and momentum are somehow incidental, rather than critical, to the creation of a good action movie (or any movie) is to have zero understanding of what it takes to tell a story well, or make a good movie. There was simply a lot of repetition and dead air in the last Matrix movie that did nothing to move the story forward. The headlong pace of the first movie was a major part of its success as a movie and as a well-told story. Even the second movie managed to keep you guessing about what was around the corner.

    None of that was present in the third, which felt very much like they were playing out their string with, really, two big set pieces (one of which worked and one didn’t)| and a lot of filler that, yes, killed the momentum and, in the process, kicked you out of the story and back into your multiplex seat. That, my friend, is the cardinal sin of story-telling.

    My disappointment had everything to do with high expectations concerning not only the movie-making skills of the team involved, but also their story-telling abilities. They simply didn’t hit their mark in the last of the trilogy. Sad, but then ending a story well is by far the hardest part of story-telling.

  • ernest young

    Come on R.C. – admit it, the whole series had little to commend it, apart from some fancy graphics sequences. Disappointing – sure, but that is what you get for believing the pre-release hype.

    You can see better story lines and graphics on the kids channels and on the cartoon channel, any day of the week. Have you seen some of the Japanese stuff?.

    The bigger the hype, – the bigger the disappointment. Good ‘ole Hollywood!

  • Brian

    Here’s a good take on what went wrong with the franchise.

  • R. C. Dean

    No, ernest, I thought the first one showed real promise. Great look, snappy graphics, sure, but also the seeds of a really good (and timeless) story, and it was well told. That is what got my expectations up.

    Frankly, I thought Zion was what dragged the second two movies down. Scenes in Zion invariably dragged, and popped you out of your willing suspension of disbelief. Scenes in the Matrix, with the occasional exception, did not.

    The first one got a lot mileage out of the fact that it was obviously a lot of fun to make. By the end of the third one, it was just work for everyone, including the audience.

  • Byron

    Byron – I’ll put my intellect up against yours any day, so can the cheap insults and stick to the substance.

    Can’t handle the opposing point of view? Which of us began the cheap insults? Again, I quote:

    It just shows how desperate folk are for entertainment, that they are prepared to sit and watch this stuff and then to justify their wasting so much time, they award cult status to something as phoney as this trilogy.

    I concede that the technical aspects of the movie were lacking. I only regret that that failure seemed to have obscured the more interesting undercurrents from the audience. Personally, I chose to look past that, and in doing so I found value in understanding the philosophical conflicts, especially since I find them relevant to our own real-world conflicts. But obviously I’m in the extreme minority there.

  • R. C. Dean

    Byron, handling the opposing point of view has nothing to do with tolerating cheap insults.

    The Slate article that Brian linked to does a nice job of pointing out how both the storytelling and the philosophical underpinnings jumped the shark in tandem. All the ontological stuff that made the story interesting in the first movie was completely gone in the third (along with the Matrix itself).

    I would merely point out that no one will care about the underlying philosophy of your story, if you do a bad job of telling it.

  • R. C. Dean

    Oh, and Byron, I believe you are the one who started with the cheap insults when you denigrated my intellect for commenting on such jejune matters as pace and momentum.

    Anyone who found any philosophical content of any interest in the last Matrix movie should probably refrain for commenting about other people’s intellects. Glass houses, and all that.

  • ernest young


    You are getting in a muddle as to who said what to whom.

    I told you, watching too much of that crap, just corrupts the mind….:-)

  • David Lawson

    It was big. It was loud. It occasionally burst into life. It was undeniably spectacular.

    And I never, ever want to see it again. How a deft and playful first instalment spawned such a turgid, overblown mess is something I don’t even want to think about.

    I don’t think we have to lower our expectations in the face of slam-bang entertainment. We may not be there for profundity or subtlety but we can still expect such films to be fast and fun and make us care what happens to the characters. Revolution’s problem isn’t the cod philosphising or the welter of effects, it’s the basic nuts-and-bolts storytelling.

    At the end of the Matrix I felt exhilarated. At the end of Revolutions I just felt relieved that it was all over and that the Waschowskis couldn’t do any more damage.

  • mike

    It wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t that good. But I will tell you this: One brief view of Monica Belucci is worth the entire ticket price. Are there more luscious lips on the planet? No, there are not.

  • madne0

    If you want a good Sci-Fi epic, go get Akira. The original comic book of course, not the movie. Beats the crap out of The Matrix any day of the week. A masterpiece.

  • Shawn

    Despite whatever poltical ideas motivate the Warschowski brothers (and the inclusion of Cornel West in the Zion council is a bit of a giveaway) I thought the whole trilogy reeked of neoconservative propaganda.

    First the obvious name of our hero. Then theres Zion (Israel), the city of the free, which despite repeated attacks is “still here”, as Morpheus puts it. Theres a war between those who believe in freedom and those who, well, dont. Theres Smith, the real enemy in the end, the ultimate postmodern nihilist terrorist, who simply wants to destroy everything out of hatred for everything. Smith had obviously spent time at a French university. And speaking of the French, theres the evil Merovingian, the decadent and cynical manipulator, playing both sides against each other. There are the blatant references to Jewish and Christian religious ideas (including the gnosticism). The list goes on.

    I’m convinced this film were secretly commissioned by Paul Wolfowitz or the American Enterprise Institute. No wonder they wanted it banned in Egypt, and I’m surprised they didnt ban it in France. The French and the Muslims must hate this epic story about Zionists fighting for freedom against totalitarianism.

    I loved it. All three of them. I’ll most likely buy the box set. Its the best piece of film propaganda I have seen since the days of Rambo.

  • Ryan Waxx

    You know what, Dean? I think you hit the heart of the matter with your comments on Zion.

    Where the movies really failed was to make me give a tinker’s damn what heppened to Zion. So humanity loses its last really big dance floor. Oh frigging well.

    Of course, the rest of your comments are overblown: No.3 was entertaining but not up to the standards of the first. And thankfully it wasn’t quite as gratuitous as the second.

    Did anyone else notice that as the amount of special effects went up, the storytelling went down? Seems to be a common theme in hollywood these days.

  • Ryan Waxx

    I’m convinced this film were secretly commissioned by Paul Wolfowitz or the American Enterprise Institute.

    And THAT, is all we really need to know about your point of view. Have you checked under your bed? I hear neoconservatives like to hide there, making scary noises so that children will be frightened into becoming republicans.

  • Dave F

    FeloniousPunk (Or should that be DumPoltroon) , doesn’t everybody? And the answer to your second question. Easy: which I would opt for first on a rainy night in, given a choice between the two.

  • Shawn

    “And THAT, is all we really need to know about your point of view. Have you checked under your bed? I hear neoconservatives like to hide there, making scary noises so that children will be frightened into becoming republicans.”

    I do hope you realise that I had my tongue planted firmly in my cheek, although I do think you can read some interesting topical commentary into the films.

    Actually, I rather like neoconservatives, and tend to agree with much of their thinking on foriegn policy issues. And just to be clear, I’m about as strong a supporter of Israel as its possible to be.

  • ed

    *shrug* I’ve seen worse.

    I still remember a film where Earnest Borgnine [?] had a cameo appearance. How bad could that movie be?



  • Matthew O'Keeffe


    I agree that the whole Matrix trilogy is of philosophical interest – especially if you are interested in the perennial issue of the brain-in-the-vat (which Nozick explores quite well I think). However, there are just too many flawed premises for me to stomach the trilogy as a philosophical journey:

    1. Why do the machines keep humans around?

    That stuff about breeding humans to harvest their “neuro-electrical energy” is rubbish. Why not build a bunch of nuclear power stations instead? There would be fewer environmental concerns in a world built and run by machines after all.

    2. Why do the machines keep human sentient?

    Even if we allow – for the sake of argument – that humans can be used as efficient biological batteries why allow them the capacity for sentient thought? Why not keep them in a semi-comatose state? Why not save on the processing power involved in creating a mental dream world for every captive human?

    3. Why build a matrix?

    Let us assume that thinking humans generate more electricity than comatose ones. Even if this were the case, why go to the bother of building a whole parallel world in which the human slaves can interact? This would presumably be vastly expensive in terms of processing power: a cheaper alternative, surely, would be to build one template dream world for every human. We could all happily dream that we were Bill Gates, for example. As it is, the Matrix allows people like Neo to grow up as lowly office workers disillusioned with the system. And because the Matrix is interactive, people like Morpheus can organise conspiracies against the machines.

    I could go on. I enjoyed watching these films, but I felt they got progressively worse. And while I would like to imagine that they are libertarian or neo conservative propaganda, I fear the truth is that philosophically they are gibberish.

  • R. C. Dean

    Matthew – your questions about the premise of the machine culture/economy are sound ones. NOthing irritates me more than the crappy level of thought and writing in modern movies. To think they pay in the six and seven figures for scripts that are garbage.

    In two of the all time great science fiction novels, Hyperion and Fall of Hyperion, Dan Simmons came up with a much more satisfactory set of premises that could have been carried over almost wholesale to the Matrix.

    Seriously, the first two Hyperion books are about as good as it gets (I still shudder when I think of the Shrike and the Steel Tree). I would advise you to stop reading at the end of the second one – the next two are not even close to as good. Ending stories well is the hardest part of telling stories.

  • The only way to make the role of humans in the Matrix make sense is to assume they were used not for energy but for computational cycles. (Although you do lose the moment when Morpheus holds up a copper-top Duracell, and holding up a chip just isn’t the same. Ah, well.)