The ending to The Matrix is so freaking awesome.
We go full circle from the beginning. Call backs to the opening scene can be a cheap narrative device but not here. Neo completes his character arc, but the conflict of the story is not fully resolved. The war isn’t won yet. The human race is still enslaved by the robots. But as he takes off in the air, we know that he’s going to do it. He’ll save everyone because anything is possible if Neo can fly.
Here’s what it looked like on paper.
It’s executed more effectively on the screen. The decision to cut the dialogue of the boy and his mom is a perfect example of less meaning more. “Men don’t fly.” was a good final line, but the music is a better fit. I wonder if this scene was filmed and then changed later because it didn’t work.
I love this ending because the concept of The Matrix is fully realized. Neo can do anything. He’s gone from another guy trapped in the Matrix to the One. I love this ending so much I wish that there weren’t sequels to The Matrix.
The sequels have some intriguing concepts, but do not live up to the original. Seeing Neo flying around and fighting was not a thing I needed to see. I wouldn’t say the two other films were flat out garbage, but they leave a lot to be desired. Sometimes it’s best for films to stand alone.
So you have a favorite show, book or movie franchise and it’s about to end.
You’re over the hill! You invested your time and energy into the characters and now sweet payoff is coming. You spent more time thinking about the romantic relationships in the show than you did your own! You read the stupid fan theories that meticulously connected the most mundane events and told you the bald guy rubbing his chin was actually the main character from the future back to save everyone. You can’t wait to see what the genius creator has in store for you. They’ve saved their best for last!
Then after all the years of waiting, the last episode comes out! The concluding book is released. You scream with glee. You flick on the television. You sit down in that movie theater. You crawl into bed with the book and you flip the page. You’re ready to take in that final act of goodness.
But it’s all wrong.
People are acting out of character. Somebody dies for an unexplained reason. A major plot point is forgotten or swept over. They never explain that magical happening from season 3. The bad guy was in their heads all a long. HE GOT WITH HER?!!! Is this even the same writing team? The credits roll. You turn the last page. That was really it. And it sucked.
At the time when you most needed them to hit a homer, they struck out.
A bad beginning isn’t the end of the world. So it takes a while to get going. No need to get outraged. You can forgive a poorly written middle. You can power through onto the good stuff. Skip it if you want. Joke about that bad period in the story. But you can’t do that for a bad ending. It is. There’s no going back. Just like the clap, bad endings are here to stay.
It’s like getting on a first class plane with no idea where it’s going. You plant your buttcheeks on a chair so comfortable, it’s like being in the womb again. There’s a button on it that dispenses cheesy cinnamon bread swirled together by an indigenous tribe off the coast of New Zealand. It tastes like it and you won’t gain a calorie for gorging on. The flight attendant is a one-man band that plays you the song of his people on a harmonica/guitar. The pilot speaks in a smooth soothing slightly British tone assuring you the flight’s going smoothly. The in-flight movie is Coming to America. The flight attendant finishes bathing your feet with water taken from the stomach of an Amazonian as the plane lands. You look out the window and see a giant sign that says “Welcome to Detroit”!
It’s all about the destination. Nobody wants to end up in Detroit. I keep that in mind while I outline stories.