An ongoing list of trivia and annotations for The Matrix Revolutions follows. See also The Matrix and The Matrix Reloaded for references and trivia dealing with characters in the trilogy.

  • The Oracle wears two green earrings with a stylized yin-yang symbol on each one throughout this movie. The color green frequently symbolizes the digital nature of the Matrix, while the yin-yang is a Chinese symbol of the dual nature of the universe and existence: light and dark, good and evil, male and female, each needing to exist in balance with the other.
  • The young Indian girl Sati is named for the Hindu rite of sati, where a widow burns herself to death on her husband's funeral pyre.
  • Sati's mother, Kamala, is named for a character from Herman Hesse's novel Siddhartha who teaches Siddhartha about earthly pleasures and tries to distract him from seeking true enlightenment.
  • Sati's father, Rama-Kandra, is the man we briefly saw in The Matrix Reloaded being led out of the room just as Neo, Morpheus and Trinity met the Merovingian for the first time. He is named for the seventh avatar of Vishnu (more commonly spelled Ramachandra or simply Rama) who today symbolizes the Hindi devotion to caste and dharma -- resignation to one's fate or destiny. (Vishnu is the Hindu deity responsible for the preservation of the current universe. The Hindu belief that the universe is destroyed and then recreated in its own cycle of samsara parallels the repeated destruction and recreation of Zion.)
  • The subway station where Neo meets Sati and her family is labeled "Mobil Avenue" -- ironic since Neo is anything but mobile while he waits there. (In The Matrix, all the street names were taken from the Wachowski brothers' home city of Chicago, Illinois; while there is no such street as Mobil Ave. in that city, there is a Mobile Ave. far from the center of the city.)
  • Life101 additionally points out that "mobil" is an anagram for limbo. Throughout this movie, other references to the Christian afterlife are equally prevalent -- the Merovingian operates the underground Hell Club, Neo perceives the Machine City as streams of light, and the wires connecting Neo to the Matrix from the Machine City resemble glowing angel's wings when flooded with power.
  • The Hell Club is also a secondary reference to the Merovingian's reluctant wife, Persephone, who in Greek mythology spends a third of every year in the underworld and rules there with her husband, Hades.
  • When Neo visits the Oracle in her kitchen, the same song is playing in the background that played on his first visit there in The Matrix: "I'm Beginning To See The Light". This song takes on a whole new significance when he later discovers the ability to percieve the machines outside the Matrix as shapes of yellow light.
  • The name of the ship Neo and Trinity use to reach the Machine City is the Logos, Greek for "word" or "the word". In the Christian Gospels, Jesus was sometimes called "the Word", most notably in John 1:1 -- "In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the word was God."
  • Before the machines breach Zion's perimiter, Zee is making weapon shells to use in the city's defense. In the U.S. during World War II, when most able-bodied men were fighting in the military, women took their places in the factories for the first time making weapons and ammunition.
  • Niobe's new ship is the Hammer (or Mjolnir) . In Norse mythology, Mjolnir the name of Thor's magical hammer which represented lightning and was a deadly weapon, returning itself to his hand after being thrown.
  • The movie ends with a westernized rendering of a hymn from the Rig Veda:
    • Asato ma sat gamaya - From untruth lead me to truth
    • Tamaso ma jyothir gamaya - From darkness lead me to light
    • Mrityor ma amritham gamaya - From death lead me to immortality

Plot Summary

This third chapter of The Matrix trilogy takes up where The Matrix Reloaded ended. The free people of Zion brace themselves for the imminent invasion of the machine hordes. Neo must figure out how to use his newly-discovered powers to try to save Zion on his own by visiting the Machine City. Meanwhile, the people and programs inside The Matrix are rapidly being taken over by the madly egotistical Smith, who seeks to recreate his world in his own image.

Overall Impressions (Spoiler-Free)

I liked but was not wowed by The Matrix Reloaded. That movie has grown on me considerably since I saw it opening night six months ago; things that bothered me initially I no longer mind (the pacing) or even enjoy (the rave sequence). My reactions had a lot to do with my mood the night I saw it, I think.

So what was my mood going into see The Matrix Revolutions? Grumpy. Grumpy that I'd been laid off the previous Friday after having been promised two more weeks of work. Grumpy over an unemployment benefits snafu that came to light that morning. Grumpy that Warner Brothers had seen fit to debut the movie at 9 a.m. Wednesday EST (6 a.m. in California) instead of midnight Tuesday.

I was very grumpy over that last bit. For those of us who crave the opening showing experience, 6 a.m.-9 a.m. just plain bites. First of all, who in the Matrix's main fan group is gonna be up that early unless they have to go to classes or a day job? So they'll need to go to work instead of to the movies with your sorry unemployed ass. Furthermore, the Matrix series is something to be seen at night. The dark, gritty world in those movies just doesn't go with leaving the theater to bright sunlight and twittering birds.

But Revolutions did what Reloaded could not: it grabbed me from the first scene and made me forget all about my bad mood. I was elated as I left the theater, and felt like smacking the frat boys who were grumbling "Man, that sucked, I want my money back!"

The action sequences are great. The set design and look of the movie is awesom. The writing is pretty sharp most places, and the acting's all solid.

I especially enjoyed performances by some of the supporting actors. Mary Alice had to take over for Gloria Foster as The Oracle because Foster sadly died between movies. Alice does an especially good job of matching Foster's speech patterns. I wasn't especially impressed with Ian Bliss' performance as Bane in Reloaded, but in Revolutions he does a dead-on impersonation of Smith to create a flawless impression that he is indeed posessed by the agent. Nathaniel Lees just plain kicks ass as Mifune, and Lambert Wilson was fun to watch as The Merovingian. Hugo Weaving was excellent as always as the increasingly-maniacal Smith; it takes a very good actor to chew that much scenery without it coming across as painful overacting.

The attack on Zion is nothing short of breathtaking; the use of CGI in this movie is much better than in Reloaded. I didn't notice any spots where the CGI failed to convince me and kicked me out of the story.

Revolutions rocks. What it does not do is to wrap everything up and tie it with a neat little bow and hand it to you. Many, many questions raised by Reloaded do not get answered here -- you, the viewer, have to sort it out on your own. Which I think is very cool.

Revolutions is rather like Fight Club in that regard -- the plot arc established in Reloaded is concluded in a logical manner, but a burden of intelligent interpretation is put on the viewer that I guess a lot of people don't want or expect to have to shoulder when they go see an action flick.

The movie is, ultimately, an allegory about faith, and the titular "revolutions" refers as much to the movement of ancient cycles than it does to a people fighting for their freedom. The religious symbolism gets pretty strong towards the end, and I imagine a lot of viewers either won't get it or won't want to get it. There's some pretty cool stuff floating around under Revolutions' fast, pretty exterior. You just have to be willing to see that it's there.

And finally, the movie ends with things wide open for a "natural" set of sequels -- The Animatrix proved that there are far more stories to be told in this world than can be captured by a trilogy of feature films.

Other Thoughts (Major Spoilers Follow)

The burden-of-interpretation has plagued professional reviewers, too. I've noticed some complaining about plot holes that aren't.

The first supposed plot hole happens in the sequence where the Smith clones confront The Oracle. Seraph tries to escape with Sati; intead of using a passkey to open a back door, he mundanely tries various apartments and finally kicks open a locked door to try to hide in an abandoned room. Why doesn't he have or use a passkey? He had them in Reloaded, after all, and one presumes he'd still have a key or two even though the Keymaker is gone. The answer is pretty simple: for security reasons, it would make sense for the Oracle to reside in a place that doesn't have back doors.

Another reviewer complained about the humans not throwing an EM bomb into the Machine City. One presumes they tried that long ago and failed; the only reason that Neo and Trinity are able to reach the city at all is because practically all the 250+ million sentinels have been sent to attack Zion. The humans have a finite number of ships, and replacing them takes a long time. Any other assault on the city at any other time would have been overwhelmed miles before they got close enough to do any real damage.

Others have complained about the ending; the peace Neo earns by ridding The Matrix of Smith's cancerous presence is tenuous, at best. The people trapped in the Matrix have been freed of Smith, but they're still enslaved. Realistically, though, that's how wars often go, and besides, even an intact Zion couldn't hold all the awakened sleepers. There's just not enough food and space to go around, and many would resent being awakened from a fairly normal world into a hardscrabble dystopia. Better to keep alive as many of the people who willingly chose freedom as possible, and let Zion live to fight another day when the peace inevitably breaks.

On a fan level, there are a few things that may leave you unsatisfied. You get less Morpheus and Trinity than you did in the past; the major characters must go to the sidelines as minor characters take the fore in the storytelling. And some aren't there at all; I was looking forward to seeing The Twins in action again, but I didn't realize until the movie was over that they were missing. And speaking of "twins", the lovely Monica Bellucci has little more than a cameo in this one.

So, what about the battle between Walter and myself concerning the nature of The Matrix and the scorched-Earth world of Zion? (In a nutshell, I and others felt that the "real" world was another layer of virtual reality; please see the other node for our rationale) Well, it could go either way.

I think that the movie is likely to be more satisfying if you go in thinking that the world of Zion is actually another layer of VR; The Oracle repeately implies there's more for Neo to learn about the world an himself than he learns within the storyline of Revolutions. The VR hypothesis makes Neo's mysteriously waking up in the Trainman's limbo much more believable (though, of course, The Matrix series has worked best on a metaphorical level all along: it's a world where the soulless drones that control the world parasitically feed on the energy of dreamers).

Working from the Zion-as-VR standpoint also makes Trinity's death easier to take -- she might be "dead" in the same way that Smith was "dead" at the end of the first movie. From a fan standpoint, seeing Trinity die stinks, but from a plot standpoint, she has to die in order to free Neo to do what he must. When she dies, he loses everything -- and is consequently free to do anything. Her death burns away his human frailties -- but also what's left of his humanity.

The role reversal of the programs and Morpheus' crew is something I've also enjoyed.

Morpheus' recruits have focused on understanding the code of The Matrix and doing their jobs to the exclusion of everything else; they live cheerless, minimalist lives aboard their ships, and when they're in The Matrix, they kill without fear or pity or concern with anything but their mission. As Tank said in the first movie as he marvelled at Neo's ability to train long and hard: "He's a machine."

Meanwhile, the ageless programs of The Matrix have long had to focus on passing as humans. And in their boredom, they've entertained themselves with the trivia and luxuries of humanity. The Oracle loves her candy, cigarettes, and chocolate chip cookies. The Merovingian occupies himself with French cuisine, wine, and sexual intrigue.

The role reversal of the humans and the sentient programs was emphasized first in Reloaded in the scene where Morpheus, Neo, and Trinity approach the Merovingian in the restaurant. Morpheus' crew are stiff, impassive, mechanical, focused only on their work; The Merovingian's crew are laughing, lustful, distracted. The Matrix has forced the best humans to become indistinguishable from machines and the best programs to become indistinguishable from humans.

Neo's merging with the machine world is nearly complete at the end of movie. Neo has been blinded in his battle with Bane and must rely on his spiritual senses to "see" the world around him. To Trinity and the rest of us, the Machine City looks like a Lovecraftian mechanical nightmare; to Neo, it's a beautiful, otherworldly city of delicate lights. His transformation is completed when he makes his Faustian deal with the Deux Ex Machina who rules the city. When he goes back into The Matrix to face Smith, Neo has transcended his humanity and left it behind. He no longer fights for humanity because he fears the future or the death of a loved one -- he fights because it's his choice.

Movie Information

Revolutions opened with $24.4 million on its Wednesday debut; The Matrix Reloaded opened with $42.5M on its first day. While I do think first-day box office was hurt by opening the film at the same time worldwide (which translated to an early morning debut in the U.S. and took the steam out of a lot of people trying to see the movie on the first day as opposed to waiting 'til later), it's possible this installment won't do as well as the other two movies because many were dissatisfied with Reloaded and thus had lessened interest in seeing the trilogy's conclusion. Which is a real shame, because the Wachowskis have redeemed themselves here. After five weeks, Revolutions has earned $136 million domestically; while that's a respectable haul, it's not even close to Reloaded's $281.5 million and is unlikely to rise to meet the $171 million of the first movie.

Running time: 129 minutes
Rating: R Directors/Writers: Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski
Cinematography: Bill Pope
Score: Don Davis, with a lot of help from Juno Reactor

Mary Alice: The Oracle
Tanveer Atwal: Sati
Helmut Bakaitis: The Architect
Francine Bell: Councillor Grace
Monica Bellucci: Persephone
Rachel Blackman: Charra
Ian Bliss: Bane
Collin Chou (Sing Ngai): Seraph
Essie Davis: Maggie
Laurence Fishburne: Morpheus
Nona Gaye: Zee
Lachy Hulme: Sparks
Chris Kirby: Mauser
Peter Lamb: Colt
Nathaniel Lees: Mifune
Harry Lennix: Lock
Robert Mammone: AK
Carrie-Anne Moss: Trinity
Tharini Mudalair: Kamala
Robyn Nevin: Councillor Dillard
Genevieve O'Reilly: Officer Wirtz
Harold Perrineau: Link
Jada Pinkett Smith: Niobe
Keanu Reeves: Neo
Kevin M. Richardson: Deus Ex Machina
David Roberts: Roland
Bruce Spence: Trainman
Clayton Watson: Kid
Hugo Weaving: Agent Smith
Cornel West: Councillor West
Bernard White: Rama-Kandra
Lambert Wilson: Merovingian
Anthony Wong: Ghost
Anthony Zerbe: Councillor Hamann

I am adding to this node only to point out an interesting, and I think deliberate parallel in Revolutions I haven't seen elsewhere. I don't argue it is necessarily significant. In fact I think that many of the things ably discovered by those listing trivia in the relevant nodes on E2 (and their sources) are probably not terribly significant for understanding the plot, though most of what they point out is clearly true and cleverly spotted. Sometimes these things comment on a plot or situation without being integral to them. Sometimes I think they're sort of like easter eggs.

For what it's worth, I see a parallel in action and motivation between the Oracle's making of cookies and Zee making explosives. Both use bowls in their homes--a modest parallel in action which serves to attract our attention. The Oracle comments to Sati, "cookies need love like everything does," while when Zee works on her explosive mix, and she is confronted about her possibly suicidal joining of the ground forces in the defense of Zion, her response is that she must: "because I love him." The response made to her is the obvious one on the face of things: "you'll get yourself killed." But Zee has a deeper reason, which, since it is on a human level, we can understand. She needs to help hold the dock because it is the only way she will ever see Link again. So a risky action, inexpedient in the short run (by subjecting Zee to possible, even probable, death), will hopefully pay off in the long run. This scene offers commentary on the Oracle's "suicide."

The Oracle is surprised by Neo's entrance for their last interview. She claims not to be able to see beyond a choice she doesn't understand. I've never fully understood all of the implications of that phrase, but taking it at face value (and I'm helped here by the fact that the machines apparently never lie, though the Oracle has often told Neo less than the full truth), this point of the movie, when Smith is about to assimilate her, is evidently a juncture where her sight is failing her. The Oracle must go on blindly (as Neo, of course, will do, later on). The last thing she seems to see (because Smith sees it too after he gets her) is the apparent, imminent triumph of death. She says as much to Neo in their last interview, too.

Having to go on blindly puts the Oracle in the same position as ordinary people, including Zee, off in Zion. The Oracle is nervous about the outcome of her gamble--her hand trembles slightly as she takes a drag on her last cigarette. Her game places her in the position of having to let herself be assimilated by Smith so that she can act as a sort of virus (or trojan horse, maybe) and, even if unconsciously, cause Smith to say things that will give Neo the push he needs to do what is necessary to defeat him. She needs to do it, though, for a greater good. By infecting Neo through a cookie in the first movie with some code which melded him with Smith (and put an enhanced Smith in a position to menace the machines so thoroughly that the latter needed to make a deal with Neo and hence humanity), the Oracle aimed at the purpose she openly expresses more than once--an end to the war. The Oracle's choice, which operates in a hidden or obscure plane, is made clearer (at least on repeat viewings!) by Zee's (and later, Neo's).

It is an E2 cliché that "Your Radical Ideas About X Have Already Occurred to Others." Nowhere is this truer than with The Matrix! I found the (to me) convincing idea that the Oracle had been affecting characters by feeding them cookies (and candy), and a version of the idea that she orchestrated the whole game on an intelligent website devoted to the movies ( I'm sure someone has already expressed what I propose here, though I haven't (yet) found it in the relevant nodes in E2.

/* I have deliberated about where to place this writeup for a couple days. I was originally going to put it in its own node entitled Why people don't like the Matrix sequels, so that should give you an idea of where this is heading before we even leave the gates. In the interest of creating a more complete node and a less fractured nodegel, you can see that the little writeup that could found it's way here. */

Apparently, a large part (enough for me to be writing about) of the movie-going population enjoyed the first Matrix but felt that the Brothers fell down on the job for the sequels. Although not always true with movies that are designed to be trilogies from the start, The Matrix is a well encapsulated story unto istelf. The story entire, across all three films, can almost be seen as a separate story from the first one alone. The reasons are two-fold : the success of the first movie allowed them a complete freedom economically and conceptually in the two sequels, and second the complexity of the plot is greatly increased. Naysayers are often unable to answer to satisfaction the following question :

How does Neo destroy Agent Smith?

  1. The Oracle lets Smith take her, and make her a part of him. He asks a very important question of her : 'If you knew I was coming then why are you here?' Good question! For some reason this program that sees the future just as easily as the present wants Smith to take her. She knows it will help in some way, but how?

    Notice that even though there are many Smiths, the original Smith still seems to be the leader of the pack. He is the voice of the beast, or the head. When this Smith takes the Oracle, he gives her (who's now a Smith) a pained look and the new Smith/Oracle laughs maniacally. Could it be that the Smith/Oracle is the new leader?

  2. Neo and Agent Smith are opposite sides of the same coin. The Architect's flawless (and yet ultimately doomed) system is fixed when the Oracle realizes that free-will is an intrinsic part of human nature. Humans can't live without it. So then the Matrix that we know has to have a (randomly and sometimes wildly) varying element that manifests as the One. The system as it is designed can only continue if Neo voluntarily gives himself (his programming/code) back to the Matrix.

    However, in this cycle of the Matrix (six I believe, counted from subsequent incarnations of the first One) the One is both Neo and Smith, who has mutated as a result of the combination of both Neo and Smith's genes (programming/code - gee, see a pattern?) into a virus of sorts.

  3. Neo must still merge back with the Matrix in order for the system to continue, yet obviously he was unwilling to sacrifce Trinity in the devil's bargain at the end of Reloaded.

    In effect, Neo is still able to merge back with the Matrix (or the Source, if you will) after bargaining a truce with the Machines. Smith has become as dangerous to them as to the Humans. He is a cancer that they can no longer cut out of their "body" without destroying themselves.

    Remember that Smith now is the Oracle, Architect, and all the sentient intelligences in the Matrix? He is now in effect the Source.

  4. When Smith "absorbs" Neo, Neo goes back to the source, and the code that can sustain the Matrix system is functional once again. But of course, the Matrix still has Smith-cancer. Luckily, Smith is Neo whether he would admit it to himself or not. When the two merge, it as if two pieces of an original are fit back together and the original piece results, perfect as it was originally designed to be, and the salvation of the Matrix. This saves billions of human lives while his bargain with the deus ex machina saves Zion. It amazed me how the Brothers tied such a complicated plot up so well. Contrary to some critical opinion, they didn't fall back on some cheap and contrived Hollywood trick.

  5. What is most important is the fact that Neo sacrifices himself and makes all his choices voluntarily; of his own free-will. "Why? Why do you continue!?" Smith rages at Neo. "Because I choose to." is Neo's retort. Neo is the Messiah because he sacrifices himself freely for the good of all men, out of love. This is a major part of his character's evolution, though somewhat eased by the fact that Trinity dies. Thus she is a major step for Neo to evolve past. Love is beautiful and amazing, but even more so when that love is for all mankind, and not just one person. That is divine. Thus in the end Neo makes the choice that he couldn't make at the end of Reloaded. (although, it's a good thing he didn't or else we'd still have no solution to the Smith-cancer or the War between man and machine)

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