The conclusion to the Wachowski brothers' Matrix trilogy picks up exactly where THE MATRIX RELOADED (2003) left off and, like RELOADED, it neither works as a stand-alone film nor captures the thrilling sense of somber, pulpy mystery that made THE MATRIX (1999) so compelling. Nevertheless, it brings the saga to a satisfying close, and relies less on the clumps of pop-mystical cyber gobbledy-gook that gummed up the gears of RELOADED and more on the powerful emotional bonds that bind Neo (Keanu Reeves), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith), Link (Harold Perrineau) and Zee (Nona Gaye). The story begins with both Neo and Bane (Ian Bliss), who was possessed by Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) and committed an act of vicious treachery at the end of the previous film, comatose in the hovercraft Mjolnir, whose doctor (Essie Davis) is deeply puzzled by Neo's brainwaves: They look exactly like the brainwaves of someone who's jacked into the Matrix. Even though logic dictates that Neo can't be in the Matrix, Trinity and Morpheus set out to find him there, facing down the treacherous Merovingian (Lambert Wilson) — whose lovely wife, Persephone (Monica Bellucci), is reduced to the most fleetingly glimpsed of decorative elements — and bring Neo back as Bane awakens, claiming to remember nothing of the cataclysmic events that preceded his coma. The Agent Smiths, meanwhile, are multiplying in such numbers that they threaten not only human infiltrators of the Matrix but the very infrastructure of the machine world, and Commander Lock (Harry Lennix) mobilizes Zion for all-out war as the machine drillers approach, trailed by a swarm of lethal sentinels of biblical proportions. Advised one last time by the Oracle in her new "shell" (Mary Alice, replacing the late Gloria Foster), Neo, accompanied by the eternally loyal Trinity, chooses what appears to be a suicide mission using Niobe's ship, while she pilots the remaining working vessel back to beleagured Zion. The nondenominational, pop religious elements that underlie the first two films come into full flower here. But every airy-fairy, spoken-word aria about fate and destiny is balanced by a pitched battle between machines and humans strapped into mechanical APUs (armored personnel units that look uncannily like ALIENS' dock-loaders, which in turn pay homage to the comic art machines of Jack Kirby). The Matrix trilogy is, ultimately, less than the sum of its parts, but its best moments are high water marks in modern-day movie mythology. On a historical note, MATRIX REVOLUTIONS was the first film ever to open simultaneously worldwide on 10,013 screens in more than 50 countries and 43 languages, ranging from Mandarin to Turkish; the first showings in various countries ranged from 6AM in Los Angeles to 11PM in Tokyo. — Maitland McDonagh

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