Some people have been stirring over supposed deleted scenes showcasing Smith and his conquest of the matrix. While I would not argue these scenes making their way onto the Matrix Trilogy DVDs, I do love the way the Superbrawl starts as is. It begins with that sweet sound effect from the Matrix and continues the parallels to the original film by showing shots of Neo’s boots as he marches down a drenched street. Here we see for the first time how far Smith has taken things. It’s very surprising to us, the audience, presumably as well as our protagonist (though he does not show it). If we had been shown Smith’s conquest after he takes over the Oracle, it would diminish some of the surprise, and possibly some of the fun of the Superbrawl. Another great touch is when Neo is amongst the endless sea of Smiths and only one marches out to the middle of the street to meet and face him. We know this to be the super-Smith, who is the Smith spawned from the Oracle’s shell. This is the Smith with the vision, this is the Smith with the knowledge, and this is the Smith with the power. Why? Because he knows he is going to beat Neo. His mind was freed for him when he took over the Oracle. He is the only one who can stand up to Neo, and he is the only one who does.
The action in the Superbrawl is really something unbelievable. There are no guns, just kung-fu. This was a wise move to make, I think. It shows Neo “returning to his roots” of the first action scene he’s in- the dojo scene. Some may have wished for a limited use of guns in the beginning (like the original Matrix), but the fact that Neo and Smith do not use guns show that they have gone beyond guns. Both are too quick to be hit by bullets, and both seem to be able to throw punches that pack more wallop than a bullet can. Neo and Smith fighting with guns would be like if Darth Vader pulled out a blaster and shot Luke in the face- they all honor themselves on the fact that they are much more powerful than the average gun-toting action hero. The kung-fu itself is, needless to say, quite impressive and fluid. Some of the action has a distinctive comic book/ dragonball Z aura to it, which may seem off-putting to some, but it is important to understand this as the Wachowskis roots. The aerial combat itself is pulled off with fantastic special effects that make you believe Neo and Smith are actually up there. The physics of the aerial combat are likewise amazing. The huge pressure balls of water speak for themselves.
The setting of the fight is made up of four places-
1) Smith Street
2) Silhouette Dojo
3) The Sky
4) Intersection Crater
Each of these places has a distinct turn of events to accompany them. When Neo first enters the matrix to destroy Smith, he walks down a street with thousands, possibly millions, of Smith watching him and making generally smug faces. To anyone else this would be daunting, but Neo represents valor in this instance. “It ends tonight,” he says. Then, of course, they fight. Neo holds his own quite well at first, but as the fight goes on the scales gradually tip to Smith’s favor. In the Silhouette dojo scene, Neo “reverts” to a state of less belief. This is exemplified through the beating he takes in this room which is very similar to that of the subway fight in the original Matrix. Neo then spits his blood, gets up and beckons Smith with his fingers- he goes back to his “beginning to believe state”, probably due to the fact that Smith believes clearly (in fact, he knows) he will win. They can’t both be so confident. As the fight progresses, they both take to the sky. Here is where Smith has a major advantage, and beats Neo pretty bad until he finally gets angry enough to crash the man directly into the center of an intersection- Neo’s intersection from the Matrix. Now the crater speech comes in and the (IMO) climax to end them all is raised. Neo gets back his strength in this scene and is able to deliver the superpunch to Smith. It’s too late, however, for punches and kicks to beat Smith, and Neo has one option left.
One of the most brilliant aspects of these four settings is the fact that each represents a certain style of the Matrix Trilogy. The Smith Street represents the daunting task of facing the system- this was shown all along in the Matrix films by rebels and their fears of the system (or specifically Agents). Cypher summed it up with “You see an agent, you do what we do. Run. You run your ass off.” There is a sense of terror to the matrix, and walking down a street with about a million [former] agents is certainly something to be feared.
The Silhouette Dojo scene represents the “kung-fu/bullet ballet” aspects of the Matrix films. Inside the matrix, every fight seems so fluid and graceful, so beautifully choreographed that it is in itself an art form. The Silhouettes top them all, if you ask me, or at least summarize them well. It’s more like a dance than a fight, and people have always enjoyed that particular style of the Matrix films.
The Sky scenes represent that “transcendence of the system” or the “no boundaries” feel of the films. One of the most obvious “boundaries” or “rules” in everyday life is the law of gravity. The fact that gravity no longer has any holding on these two entities seems to sum up how much they are able to bend the rules. One thing is for sure watching the sky scenes- both Smith and Neo love to be rebellious against any thing that tries to hold them down.
The Crater scene’s main style is the philosophical undertones to every fight. The original Matrix had them (“Goodbye, Mr. Anderson” “My name…is Neo”), Reloaded had them (“It is purpose that drives us…” etc), and now Revolution’s big fight has the philosophical element, too (“Because I choose to.”). I mentioned before that this was the climax of the film, and I also believe that it is the climax of the fight, and even the entire trilogy. Likewise to the philosophical elements, the Matrix and Reloaded both demonstrated great climaxes to their big fights (Smith getting hit by the train, Neo tossing about a hundred Smiths from off his back), and Revolutions stays true to that style, as well.
Rain in the Matrix
The rain in the Matrix Trilogy is symbolic of turmoil and chaos. Sometimes this is a personal turmoil, other times it is universal and quite literal. This former is expressed through the Adams Street Bridge scene in the original. The rain is pouring during this scene, which represents the intense brewing mayhem inside Neo. He is already thinking about it at this point- he is already considering the choice, but what he doesn’t know is that he has already chosen the red pill. The entire Adams Street Bridge scene is, therefore, Neo’s attempt at introspection and his trying to understand why he chooses red. He even asks Trinity.
Trinity: Because you have been down there, Neo. You know that road. You know exactly where it ends. And I know that’s not where you want to be.
And she was right. The Superbrawl rain is much less personal. It is entire worldly chaos. It is the end of the world as far as Smith thinks, and he intends to show it. One of the best moments in cinematic history for me is when the rain flashes back and forth between what appears to be water, and the matrix code it really is. This effect is not only stylish, but it shows just how artificial Smith’s “end of the world” is. Smith is trying to convey to Neo the end of the matrix, meaning the end of Smith’s prison. To Smith, though, the end of the matrix is just the beginning of “freedom”. This makes the “end” entirely unconvincing, and demonstrates that it is just the beginning.
Neodammerung is an epic piece of music. The lyrics themselves give a lot away about what is happening in the film and what we can expect to happen, but the composition of the music itself is nothing short of breathtaking. It has an evil feel to it, blending in with the turmoil I described above, yet it also feels so epic and so legendary. Because of this, we expect that the hero will overcome the adversary after many hardships in what will be a long battle. It’s simply climactic. It tells us “this is the end”, and we know we should enjoy it. I must say it’s quite difficult to describe exactly what emotions the song elicits (due to the nature of music itself), but anyone who has heard the music knows exactly how it makes you feel. It releases adrenaline, sends jolts through your mind and body, and let’s you feel like you can take on the world. This piece of music is made particularly special by what happens to Trinity earlier in the film. In the first scene with Neo after Trinity’s death (with Deus Ex), he seems to be choking back tears. My first time watching Revolutions, I almost thought that scene between Neo and Deus Ex was poorly acted, but I soon saw that it was simply a very subtle grieving scene. This is the first time we see Neo after Trinity has died when he looks truly able to take on what’s waiting for him. To be honest, it is the first time after Trinity’s death that I, as a spectator, am ready to take on what is waiting for me to watch. This is largely thanks to Neodammerung. The music wants revenge, as do I.
Many people have called the dialogue of the Matrix sequels to be pointless and boring. That may be a matter of opinion, but I can not for life of me even begin to fathom how anyone can believe such a thing. Every piece of dialogue by the main characters has so much relevance- both obvious to the plot, yet subtle to philosophy- it’s astounding. I don’t even want to think about how many times the Wachowskis must have rewrote this thing, adding layers to it each time. However many times they did it, I can assure you it must have taken them a LONG time.
Smith: Mr. Anderson, welcome back. We missed you. You like what I’ve done with the place?
Neo: It ends tonight.
Smith: I know it does – I’ve seen it. That’s why the rest of me is just going to enjoy the show – we already know that I’m the one that beats you.
Smith again refers to Neo as “Mr. Anderson”, showing just how much respect he has for the man. He also refers to the chaos he’s caused in the matrix, likening it to sprucing up an old apartment. While this line may just sound like a joke, it has relevance in that Smith was clearly unhappy in the “zoo” the matrix was before, but is pleased with it now that it is his zoo. Neo responds with the determination that he has freed his mind and that Smith holds no power over him. Smith agrees with the notion of determination, but he also lets Neo know the secret that Smith will win.
Smith: Can you feel it, Mr. Anderson, closing in on you? Well, I can. I really should thank you for it, after all, it was your life that taught me the purpose of all life. The purpose of life is to end.
Smith has always been fascinated by humanity (“It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you’re not actually mammals.”), here he is taunting Morpheus, yes, but is also showing a genuine pride in himself for coming to yet another revelation about humanity and life in general. The irony here is that Smith still does not consider himself to be alive. He is blind to the truth that he has become the very thing he despised. (ex “You move to an area and you multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we are the cure.” Smith demonstrates an obvious disdain for mankind when he speaks those words, but by Reloaded he is doing exactly what he accuses human beings of doing- spreading until nothing is left.
Smith: Why, Mr. Anderson, why? Why, why do you do it? Why, why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you’re fighting for something, for more than your survival? Can you tell me what it is, do you even know? Is it freedom? Or truth? Perhaps peace? Could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Anderson. Vagaries of perception. Temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose. And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself. Although, only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love. You must be able to see it, Mr. Anderson, you must know it by now! You can’t win; it’s pointless to keep fighting! Why, Mr. Anderson, why, why do you persist?
Neo: Because I choose to.
Here is the climax. Here we have the tie-up of every major philosophy in the film. Smith wants to know why Neo gets up. Remember, Smith loves purpose (“It is purpose that drives us”) and fate (“It is inevitable”). He wants to know what Neo’s purpose is for getting up. The problem? He’s too late. All those things he mentions- freedom, truth, peace, love- are all things Neo HAS fought for in the past. However, Neo is beyond them by now. He has freedom from the matrix, he learned the truth of the question, and he cares nothing for peace or love with Trinity gone. Trinity was half of Neo. She was both a) his purpose and b) his divine self. I believe Trinity represented divinity, and Neo had to let go of that divinity to truly go beyond. Her kiss made him able to transcend the system in the first film, he was not ready to be abandoned by her in the second film, and now in the third film he is finally ready and able as what he is. What is he? Human. He is the superman (“He’s doing his superman thing”), not just in style but in substance. Neo has become everything that is good in human beings. Smith, by contrast, is everything that is bad in human beings (which is perfectly fitting because we call bad things “inhumane”, and Smith is not human). Many people have complained that the original Matrix had a message that told us that we can really do anything and that the system holds no power over us, and that the sequels took that message away. I must disagree with that sentiment because here we see that Neo goes beyond the ultimate system and is able to overcome as a human being alone.
I mentioned Smith’s love of purpose/fate. Neo never really cared for such things (“I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my own life”). With the line “Because I choose to” (which, by the way, has been discussed to death so I will only touch it briefly here), Neo has attained perfect free will. There is no purpose for him, no causality. Another reason Neo becomes the “superman”- there is now only choice. Smith, because he IS Neo (“He’s you. Your opposite, your negative”), cannot see the future past Neo’s choice (“We can never see past the choices we don’t understand”) because he doesn’t know why Neo keeps fighting. This will prove to be Smith’s downfall.
Smith: This is my world! My world!
I love this line. This line tells us just how hypocritical and [bad] human-like Smith has become. You’ll recall from the first Matrix that Smith hated the matrix (“I hate this place. This zoo, this prison”), yet now he fights to protect it. This is only another example of how Smith has gained the worst qualities of mankind (power, greed, hypocrisy, etc). This also goes back to something Morpheus said- “And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.”- Morpheus speaks of the coppertops, of course, but the same thing can be said about Smith now that his original purpose is gone.
Smith: Wait… I’ve seen this. This is it, this is the end. Yes, you were laying right there, just like that, and I… I… I stand here, right here, I’m… I’m supposed to say something. I say… Everything that has a beginning has an end, Neo.
I’ve expressed my thoughts on this many times before. I don’t believe that the Oracle is talking through Smith in this scene. Instead, Smith is acting like a relay of the message the Oracle left for Neo. When Smith first copies onto the Oracle, somehow she shows him a future where he would win once he said this. Smith follows fate, and he himself chooses to say these words- he just doesn’t understand why he says them. Here is Smith’s second mistake.
Smith: What? What did I just say? No… No, this isn’t right, this can’t be right. Get away from me!
Neo: What are you afraid of?
Smith/Oracle: It’s a trick!
Neo: You were right, Smith. You were always right. It was inevitable.
Smith/Oracle: Is it over?
Smith is about to figure it out in this scene, but it’s too late. He gives into his hatred for Neo without considering the consequences (another nasty human trait) and that’s that.
The ending is interpreted in several different ways. One way is that Neo and Smith cancel each other out. I don’t buy that ending, as I’m sure few of you do. Another possible scenario is that Neo dies and Smith is left purposeless, but since Neo was connected directly to the source, Smith cannot choose exile again. This possibility seems more feasible, but I don’t buy that either. Also, there is the theory that Neo “dies” when he is imprinted by Smith, but Deus Ex runs electrical impulses through his mind to revive him and Neo then destroys Smith the same way he did in the original. If this is the way it happened, Neo would have to sacrifice himself to stop Smith from choosing exile again. Therefore, Neo’s body would act as almost a containment for the Smith virus, effectively keeping him out of the matrix. This scenario seems to fit the best of the popular theories.
After Smith and Neo die, Neo’s reload code is reinserted into the matrix and the déjà vu cat shows up, officially ending the Superbrawl.
The Superbrawl obviously symbolizes Armageddon. The main indication of this is its chaotic setting. I’ve already described how the rain, music, and evil-polluted atmosphere work together to create an “end of the world” feel. They also work together to create a very strong and classic “good versus evil” feel. Neo, who I’ve already said represents the Superman at this point, is battling “sin”, if you will. His divine half is gone and no longer empowering him. Likewise, Neo tells Deus Ex Machina that he (who is evidently the machine God) has no power over Smith (or the end of the world). It is only in the heart of this one man can evil be overcome, therefore ensuring peace for all mankind. I know that many people have complained about the obviousness of the allegory to Jesus, but I think it is only made obvious because it is somewhat false. Here we have Neo making the greatest sacrifice a man can make, and what separates him from Jesus at this point is that Neo is not the son of God. Neo is still…only human. The fact that Neo is able to stop sin through a true heart and self-sacrifice gives us our message: The souls of men are stronger than we thought. In many ways this message is very similar to the Lord of the Rings message with Aragorn- ancient and divine beings can oppose evil for us, yes, but human men and women are strong enough to do it themselves (and should).