The Matrix Reloaded

Review Date:
Director: Andy & Larry Wachowski
Writer: Andy & Larry Wachowski
Producers: Joel Silver
Keanu Reeves as Neo, Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus, Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity
Following up on the tale of the original MATRIX, this film takes us into the last remaining human conclave of Zion in which the humans must decide on how to fight the sentinels, as well as the computer agents sent to destroy them through the Matrix. Dancing, kicking, punching, running and car chasing ensues.
It took me a few viewings of the original MATRIX to fully appreciate it for what it was, but as it stands now, despite a couple of ultra-cool action sequences, an introduction to the world of Zion, some new characters and plenty of slick garbs, this follow-up didn’t impress me as much as the first one had and I think a lot of that had to do with my high expectations, as well as the amount of downtime between this film and the first. That’s not to say that this isn’t a good movie on its own, in fact, it’s a pretty kickass sci-fi extravaganza…it just didn’t blow me away. In fact, the story was “okay”, the ass-kickings were slick for the most part and the romance was passable, but what ultimately dragged it down was something that had grated me somewhat in the first installment as well, that being the overabundance of philosophy mumbo-jumbo to the point of major boredom and frustration. Characters spend minutes on end going back and forth with questions alone. Neo will ask someone a question about his “purpose” or something, and the other person will respond with yet another question. Listen man, people take philosophy courses in college for a reason and that’s because anyone with an IQ over 20 and a joint over their left ear can philosophize about “nothingness” until they’re blue in the face even though most of it generally doesn’t mean squat! Dry, dry, dry. Spice it up a bit, guys…drop the Philosophy 101 remarks about “causality” and “being” and give us a little more oomph between the awesome action scenes. Another problem is that even if they wanted to include all of that mumbo-jumbo, how about not having every other character reiterate the same things (Okay, I get it…we’re all here for a reason…move on already!). I know that the Wachowski brothers likely wanted to provide their film with that greater “meaning”, but did they have to make great stretches of it boring as well?

The newer additions to the cast also failed to stand out with Jada Pinkett given very little to do or say, the Keymaker simply holding on for dear life, The Twins participating mostly in one main scene and Monica Bellucci looking as hot as ever, but also not given much to do (although I would wrap my right arm in an old newspaper and sell it on the streets if I thought it might get me a date with her) Perrineau Jr. was the only one who actually impressed with a little humor and a smidgen of a home life. But the film’s primal aura remains, it still looks very slick and dark and green, and all of the characters that we got to know in the first round are back with a little more development here (although they might’ve thought to give Morpheus a little more background). But enough about the “story” and the “characters”…how was the action? Admittedly, I was looking very forward to seeing what the brothers would come up with this time around and thankfully for my popcorn ass— it was a damn good time! Yes, the highway sequence in this movie is going to blow your mind!! The entire sequence was badass (it actually starts as a fight between Neo and some baddies, leads to an underground garage tete-a-tete with The Twins and ultimately, the highway sequence) and that’s not just in terms of the thrills of the chase, but also the camera moves, the slow-motion, the car crashes and the close-to-flawless CGI melding among the real-life stunts. A friggin’ blast! Trinity hopping on a motorcycle to zigzag through traffic was even cooler, especially the way the camera moves us right alongside her. The only other major “action” sequence that took me aback was the colossal battle between Neo and the gaggle of Agent Smiths. This fight might not have been as revolutionary as some of the stuff from the original, but it was still a tour de force and lasted quite a while (I also loved the “bowling pins” sound effect…nice touch). The one issue that I did have with this sequence was that much of the more “stunt-oriented” parts of it looked like an actual video game rather than a movie.

I also loved how Neo would fly around a la Superman (please tell me that there’s gonna be a “sky fight” in the next film!), as well as the entire look and grungy feel of the Zion underworld. An early “party” scene is also quite groovy and provides the film with a much-needed fun tone (although I’m not sure how many people would really party before the biggest war of their lives is about to take place– but maybe that’s just me). The film’s conclusion also underwhelmed me. Yes, everyone knows that it’s going to end on a “cliffhanger” of sorts, but I wasn’t particularly involved or thrilled by the time it came around, especially when a major new character came in to reveal much of what was happening. His speech might certainly have been enlightening in terms of the storyline, but his delivery was too dry, his wording was just “too busy” and by that point in the film, that was the last thing that I wanted to see or hear! Another small disappointment was the opening sequence which I expected to top the very awesome opening of THE MATRIX, but alas, t’was not to be. As for the cast, Fishburne certainly stood out a little further in this round, while Reeves, taking part in more fights than anyone, continued his solid work as Neo. Carrie Anne-Moss looked hot in black leather, but not as hot as Bellucci did in white leather (call me…the arm’s all wrapped up!) I know that my review may sound a lot more negative than was my actual impression of the film, but you have to understand that my expectations were very high for this puppy (especially after the great time that I had with X2) and it’s also the kind of flick that is sure to go “down easier” upon second viewing. In the end, I can say that I was entertained, had a blast with its major action sequences and appreciated some of its narrative’s complexities, but following up on one of the most revolutionary movies of the past decade is not an easy task, so remember that as you set your own expectations to this film as well. Great move on ending it all on yet another RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE tune though.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian