As every other review has done, I am obliged to mention that this movie ends with a fairly serious cliffhanger -- it is no more a complete film unto itself than, say, Back to the Future II was. It's the first half of the remainder of the story, just the same as that was.
That said, this is a much better film than Back to the Future II. Indeed, the best comparison I can draw is to The Empire Strikes Back. It's not quite as novel and exciting as the original, but it's bigger, better-written and in many ways more intriguing. This film delves a lot deeper into what the heck the Matrix is, and hints at a lot of backstory. (There are few things I love more than a universe that clearly has vastly more backstory than they bother to show onscreen.) Now, if Matrix Revolutions can avoid sucking the way that Return of the Jedi did, they'll have pulled off a neat hat trick.
The film is remarkable on a technical level. The oft-mentioned car chase is unlikely to be topped any time soon, and the fight scenes are remarkable. My only quibbles are that they've gotten a little too fond of bullet-time (that slow-motion thing pioneered in the original film), and I can still tell when a human in a fight scene is CGI. They come closer to getting it right than anyone's done previously, but the seams still show. On the other hand, the CGI of the city of Zion is fabulous -- seamless and grittily real.
The writing and acting are generally decent, although I regret the lack of subtlety to the film. Whereas the original Matrix builds very slowly from a mundanely human level to a superhuman one, a little too much of this story takes place on the comic book plane. I hope that the final installment gets a little more variation in tone.
There's a fair amount of product placement. I have to wonder how much Cadillac paid to be in this movie. BMW can have James Bond -- the chase scene here is worth ten Bond films.
If you can stand the very loud soundtrack playing over the credits, stick around. Afterwards, they have a short trailer for Revolutions, coming in six months. I'm psyched. This story has some very interesting stuff going on towards the end, and I'm very curious to see if I have correctly guessed the crux of what's going on.
Overall, a very good movie, although not as groundbreaking as the original. A solid B+, which might yet go up if Revolutions pays off the setups in this film well. In the meantime, I'm very much looking forward to the Animatrix, coming up next...