The Matrix Reloaded Review
By Shawn McKenzie 05/15/2003
There are certain action movies that lay a benchmark for many that follow. In 1988, Die Hard set a standard for witty action heroes, and it was ripped off several times. In 1994, Pulp Fiction set a standard for heavy dialogue about pop culture topics intertwined with lots of gunplay. It was also ripped off several times. In 1999, The Matrix added many innovative sci-fi special effects to the action film, including the slow-motion “bullet time” shot and the 360-degree revolving shot. It’s hard to think of an action movie in the last four years that hasn’t ripped of either The Matrix or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, so The Matrix Reloaded had a lot to live up to upon its arrival. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it explored any new ground.
The movie picks up a few years after the first one ended. The world is still an existence where machines obtain their power from unconscious human slaves who live in a fictitious reality that seems normal to them, otherwise known as the Matrix. A few of the leaders of the freed slaves, including Councillor Hamman (Anthony Zerbe) and Commander Lock (Harry Lennix), are hoping to bring down their former machine-based oppressors. The machine world has put a kink in their plan by sending a quarter of a million robotic sentinels to find the escapees and annihilate them and their world that is known as Zion, the only human city left. Lock is upset that the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar has been swaying from the plan to overthrow the machines by doing things their own way, which includes visiting the Matrix. That crew consists of leader Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Neo (Keanu Reeves) a.k.a. “The One,” Neo’s now-girlfriend Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), and the newest member of the crew, pilot and operator Link (Harold Perrineau Jr.) There’s also a kid (Clayton Watson) who follows Neo all around and credits Neo with saving his life, so he wants to join the crew to help Neo as much as possible. Part of Lock’s problem with the crew might be that leader Morpheus was a former lover of his now-girlfriend Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith), who is also the captain of the Logos, the smallest and fastest hovercraft in the rebel fleet. Link’s girlfriend, Zee (Nona Gaye), is also upset with their methods, because her two brothers were killed aboard the ship in the last movie. While everyone is getting ready for battle with the machines, Neo tries to investigate the meaning of a disturbing reoccurring dream he keeps having in which Trinity is killed. After getting past her bodyguard, Seraph (Collin Chou), Neo visits the Oracle (the late Gloria Foster), who tells him that he and his crew need to find the Key Maker (Randall Duk Kim) if they want to succeed in their mission. He is currently being held captive by a Matrix power broker named Merovingian (Lambert Wilson) and his weird, ghost-like bodyguards known as the Twins (Neil and Adrian Rayment.) Before Neo can set out to retrieve the Key Maker, he has to deal with Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), the anthropomorphic physical representation of the machine world who has escaped the Matrix and wants his revenge on Neo. Somehow, now that he is out of the Matrix, Smith has figured out how to duplicate himself many times over, and he tries this strategy while fighting with Neo. After escaping the attack of a hundred Agent Smiths, Neo and the rest of the crew set out to rescue the Key Maker. They receive some help from Niobe, her first mate Ghost (Anthony Wong), and Merovingian’s wife, Persephone (Monica Bellucci), who backstabs her husband for fun. Their hope is that the Key Maker will literally have the key to stop the machines and save humanity.
From my opening paragraph, you probably think I hated the movie. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. The action and effects in the story are very cool, if not especially innovative. Is it okay that the movie that invented this kind of action has not evolved past it? I suppose, if the story is interesting. The problem I had was that the story is so complicated that it reminded me of the slow parts of Episode 1 and 2 of Star Wars. Either you have to be a hardcore Matrix geek to understand what is going on, or you just forget trying and enjoy the action alone, of which there is plenty. That is why I think I enjoyed the second X-Men movie more than this sequel, because, though it helps to be a comic book geek, the mutant story wasn’t too complicated for a non-comic book civilian.
Another thing that slightly disappointed me was the music. One of the cool things about the first Matrix was that all the action scenes were scored with some hyperactive techno music. I know the techno craze has come and gone, but going back to the old orchestral score, done this time by Don Davis, seems old hat. Oh well.
With all the moaning and whining I have just done, would I recommend seeing The Matrix Reloaded? Oh yeah. As I said, the action scenes are awesome, even if they don’t break any new ground. If they ever do make another Superman movie, it will rule, based on Neo’s ultra-cool flying scenes in this movie alone. It is visually a fun time at the multiplex, but you might want to dust off that old Matrix DVD and re-watch it, and it would help to check out the Animatrix shorts online, because otherwise you might get a little lost on the story. Even doing those two things, might not completely help. Believe me…I tried it myself. Let’s hope that the writers/directors, brothers Andy and Larry Wachowski, have a way for everything to make sense in the next one, The Matrix Revolutions, due out on November 3rd of this year.
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