Monday, 4 June 2018

The Matrix Revolutions

A shorter, almost supplementary experience compared to the previous instalments, The Matrix Revolutions discards the churning narrative ploys of The Matrix Reloaded to detail a war being fought on two intersecting, complimentary fronts. Neo moves in and out of the virtual world, meeting adorable refugee data and Bruce Spence's destitute jailer before parlaying with the screaming, shape-shifting face at the centre of machine city. While those two super beings chat it out, Zion loads its less interesting citizens into powered armour to vanquish an army of mechanical cephalopods who whoosh and swirl with the fluid grace of a 90s screen-saver.

Despite a city-shaking showdown with a powered-up Alpha Smith (complete with a rain-lashed mise en scene lifted from Lee Myung-se's Nowhere to Hide), Neo's story largely involves the messianic hacker beating a path, voluntarily, to the oblivion he avoided at the end of the first film. The Matrix proposed a clear demarcation between Neo's physical and digital identities. His human body was frail and emaciated after a lifetime bobbing around in synthetic amniotic fluid, while his data self skewed idealised. Neo imagined himself as lithe and festooned with pistols; dressed for war in a billowing trench coat and a pair of permanently furrowed sunglasses.

Thomas Anderson's projected self resembled one of Peter Chung's Liquid Television characters, a human stick insect fired out of an electron gun, ambulating around in-coming bullets. Revolutions obscures the disconnection between these sibling personas with a version of Neo that tests the boundaries between human and machine. He is a marked, actualised saviour able to effect change both in and out of the prison code. An errant bug who has defied repeated attempts to neutralise then organise the threat he presents. His anchor is Trinity, it is her singular, burning love that has conferred clarity on Neo, allowing his fragile meat body to cast the mighty will he wields in The Matrix onto the higher, physical reality the couple currently inhabit.

The backstory frothing at the edges of The Matrix suggested a war between mankind and its automated offspring in the simple, binary terms of good and evil. The machine presence in mankind's digital shroud was one of choking, systemic violence. Our human freedom fighters responded accordingly, hosing down bewildered rent-a-cops with German sub-machine guns lest they twist and transform into something more capable. At the close of The Matrix Neo was an all-powerful fist poised to strike, by Revolutions this instrument of revelation has cooled into a bridge between the two warring factions; a mutation that combines qualities from each of Earth's tribes into a walking catalyst, driving itself towards detonation. Rather than eradicate, it turns out Neo's purpose was to unify.

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