The science fiction saga that began in 1999 with The Matrix and continued earlier this year with The Matrix Reloaded reaches its conclusion in an epic released simultaneously around the world. Alan Silverman has a look at The Matrix Revolutions.
The Matrix, as we learned in the first film, is an illusion - an alternate reality - created by intelligent machines, which have taken over the world and keep humans alive as a biological source of electric power. The few humans who have broken free from this global battery pack are fighting a last stand against the computerized enemy.
Their hope is kept alive, n-o-t by firepower, but by the belief that an enigmatic character named Neo is 'the One' who will rise again to save humanity; but to succeed, Neo must defeat his nemesis: a computerized foe with awesome (and growing) powers.
Hugo Weaving is the nefarious Agent Smith and Keanu Reeves stars as Neo.
"It's a traditional mythic hero role. It's a journey of self-knowledge and sacrifice leading to a kind of restoration of the community," says Reeves.
Carrie Anne Moss is Neo's fellow warrior and lover Trinity. She acknowledges that, even for the participants, it's a challenge to understand the ambiguous philosophy woven into the story.
"I think if you go into it trying to understand everything you are missing so much because so much of it is just about being open and feeling," she says. "It's a movie that makes you feel. It's such an intellectual movie, but it has some way, magically, of just affecting your heart and your insides."
"I don't think there's ambiguity; I think it's just provocative," Reeves adds.
Reeves says by now audiences should expect that The Matrix story concludes with some of its questions left unanswered.
"I think the platform itself, dealing with the nature of reality, cause and effect, fate, life, choices . . . I think it's more of a provocative platform and hopefully one that is communicated in fun way sometimes," he says. "These are questions that have no answers, but you can search for the answers: or they do, but you ultimately have to come to them yourself."
One thing that does seem clear, however, is the specific Christian religious imagery associated with Neo; but Reeves is reluctant to describe his character as "Christ-like."
"It is one of the motifs. I don't know if it's a defining motif or if a motif is ultimately all it is, but he is 'the One.' There is a messiah aspect to it and whether it's Christian or n-o-t is open," he says.
"The other two movies don't let on as much how metaphysical they are, whereas this one does," adds Laurence Fishburne, who returns as Morpheus, a loyal disciple of Neo. Fishburne believes the religious aspect of The Matrix Revolutions should come as no surprise.
"It's very clear in both the first and second movies that there is a lot of religious symbolism and I think it is, in those two movies, something you can either take or leave as you move through the films," he says. "But with this movie, it's really at the forefront, it seems to me: the religious symbolism, the philosophy, the ideas and the themes the idea of spiritual machines, the idea of man and machine having to co-exist, what is real and what isn't real I think all these kind of things are the elements that have been missing in the action genre. So I think what's great about this movie is that it really, at its core, is supported by all those ideas."
The Matrix Revolutions features more of the revolutionary visual effects created by the writer/director team behind the entire trilogy: filmmaking brothers Larry and Andy Wachowski. The cast includes Jada Pinkett Smith, Nona Gaye, Harold Perrineau and Mary Alice as the Oracle, played in the first two films by Gloria Foster, who died just before production began on The Matrix Revolutions.