(I’d say “beware of spoilers,” but that would imply that knowing things about this movie could spoil it even further.)
Dear Andy and Larry,
What in Sam Hill were you thinking? Where, exactly, did you get off the train? I stayed along for the ride through Reloaded. Oh, I saw it, saw it three times, even when very smart people said it wasn’t very good, because I thought that I perceived some overlooked subtleties, some unlocked potential—that you guys were going somewhere and just hadn’t arrived yet. I defended your movie from the criticism of others, even though I knew in my heart that it was a sequel that stumbled. But now we have Revolutions. It’s just plain fallen on its ass.
Were you guys even trying? Oh, I know in some ways you were. There’s occasional flair in the directing—not anything as interesting or innovative as what you did in Bound and the original Matrix, but if we didn’t already expect it from you there were bits that we’d have found impressive. And if I can close my eyes and try real hard to block out all the painful bits, I can recognize the overarching story and see that it’s pretty good. Smith is a virus overtaking both worlds: check. The regular people have to defend Zion: check. Neo has to go to the Machine City, and ends up sacrificing himself to trap Smith—check, and kudos for an unexpected twist, too. But then there’s the dialogue. Here is where I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you guys were not trying. I know this because if I gathered together two dozen of my friends, put them in a circle around me, and then spun around and around and stopped and pointed to one of them at random, that person could have written dialogue that was better then the tripe you foisted on us, your loyal viewers and (until recently) fans. Even if that random person wasn’t a particularly gifted writer, I could have whispered into his or her ear these words—“Try to avoid some of the cliches you hear in movies a lot”—and it would have been enough to improve on your derivative tribute to slapdashery.
Let’s close our eyes and play a little game. This game is called “pretend all the dialogue is replaced with stuff that doesn’t suck.” Even then, your new movie has problems. You never really do explain how Neo’s power has bled from the Matrix into the real world. We don’t get to see near enough of the Matrix itself in this movie—even a transition shot showing Smith taking the place over would have been kind of nice. I could get persnickety here and point out that once Neo is dead the Big Round Machine has no reason other than some vague notion of honor to keep its word and maintain peace with the humans, and it’s a machine, so why would it? I could point out that all your dimestore philosophizing ultimately devolves into platitudes. But pointing these things out is like saying “Bob, don’t let the branch scratch your face” when the whole tree is about to fall down on Bob.
I shouldn’t be making excuses for you guys and the miserable failure your vaunted trilogy has become. But I do have a theory. I know that the producer for these movies is Joel Silver—a quick glance through his credits makes clear that there’s no discernable connection between “movies he has worked on” and “quality.” I remember quite fondly those days before and right after the first movie came out, when an acquaintance of mine worked for the two of you and told stories via e-mail about the film and its production. I specifically recall one tidbit: that in your original script there had been no love interest between Neo and Trinity, that that was the one thing that Silver prevailed on you guys to work in somehow. That sounds like something Joel Silver might do. And then I got to thinking: what if the story of the next two movies is the story of Silver exerting more and more control over production and script, until it got to the point where the two of you were ostensibly at the helm but unable to avert the wreck. If this is true, just drop me a message saying so. It won’t fix your trilogy but maybe—just maybe—I won’t boycott your next film.
To tell the truth, though, I don’t believe you guys got outmaneuvered like rank amateurs by a Hollywood hack. It has to be more sinister than that. I think that one day, during preproduction of Reloaded, Joel Silver called the two of you in for a meeting. You were standing side by side, and with a devilish grin he inserted one of his hands into each of your chests. Your bodies slowly became covered with a metallic grey, viscous substance, which slowly resolved itself, revealing two exact clones of Joel Silver. Then he said: “Go forth and do my bidding.” And you did.
Shame on you.