Reviewed December 15, 2021
This review contains spoilers.

(Note: I wrote this up as a rough summary of my thoughts after watching the series for the first time leading up to the new movie. Copying them over here for posterity.)

Like with Reloaded, I had absolutely no idea where Revolutions was going to lead me going in. I knew we were going to see Agent Smith in the real world, I knew we were going to see the sentinels attack Zion, and I knew there was going to be something happening with Smith in the Matrix. But I had no idea how exactly we were going to get there or what crazy new plot directions we’d see along the way. There are a lot of ideas in this movie that I find interesting, like the idea that programs can reproduce like humans, and that Neo seems to have some innate ability to perceive and communicate with machines outside of the Matrix. I’m also a big fan of the idea that the Matrix is at war with itself, as the Agent Smith program starts becoming too powerful to control, in response to Neo himself becoming too powerful to control.

There were also a lot of things I wasn’t super happy with: the Merovingian subplot again leads nowhere other than getting us to the next part of the story, and the Zion fight drags on just a fair bit (but the effects are so well done that I can’t complain too much). I’m also conflicted about the real-world Agent Smith plot point: on the surface, it doesn’t seem to amount to much, since all it accomplishes is rendering Neo blind so he’s forced to operate on instinct alone. But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense that it exists in the story: not only does their fight foreshadow the Neo/Smith fight in the Matrix later, but it also further establishes that human brains and Matrix programs are more compatible than you might assume initially, like Reloaded hints at.

Once again Hugo Weaving is an absolute delight in every scene. While I do think the focus on his character gets pretty excessive in this movie, all the random shots of the Smiths reacting to everything going on around them are just so much fun to watch. For the most part the rest of the acting is also quite good, especially Ian Bliss as the Smithed-up Bane, who does a surprisingly convincing impression of Hugo Weaving during the real-world fight. Mary Alice’s take on the Oracle is also quite good, considering the unfortunate real-world circumstances that forced Gloria Foster’s re-casting.

There’s not nearly as much to say here as the previous movie, because so much more of this movie is taken up by the fight in Zion, and then the fight in the Matrix. I think that sequence would have worked a lot more if a lot of the action was cut out, and maybe if they intercut with Neo and Trinity’s subplot more often. Honestly, a lot of these two movies could be improved with a shorter cut, maybe one that turned the two into a single three-hour movie. I kind of got the sense that was the original intention, though I haven’t looked up if that was the case or not. I bet there’s a good fan edit that trims them down into a single movie, actually…

The Matrix Reloaded is probably the weakest of the trilogy, but it still has a lot to offer and I’m glad that I watched it. The final fight between Neo and Smith is a ton of fun to watch even if it’s over-the-top and completely nonsensical, but then again I think that’s the point. While I do think there could have been a much more tightly made and traditional version of this story, a part of me thinks that this story could only be told in the convoluted, sometimes messy way that it was.