The Matrix Reloaded
3 out of 5 stars
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The Matrix Reloaded Support Shadows: Buy a Poster
Four years of waiting left the world rabid for the rest of the Matrix saga, and this second chapter is indeed more of the same: highly pretentious and overly serious yet a feast for the eyes with groundbreaking effects and action sequences. The story pics up soon after the first one ends, with Neo (Reeves) trying to figure out what his new-found skills and status mean, especially in the eyes of his adoring "fans" in Zion, a vast underground hive that serves as the last human outpost. Soon though he and his colleagues Trinity (Moss), Morpheus (Fishburne) and Link (Perrineau) are in a countdown to save Zion from attacking machines, while the evil Agent Smith (Weaving) has upgraded himself into an even more malevolent virus-like version of himself, not interested in protecting the matrix now, but rather in getting revenge against Neo.

Fortunately, the whole universe here is much more fully fledged, making this film more interesting than the original (which had an essentially simple plot, after all). There's much more depth of character--not terribly complicated, but at least more interesting as there are all manner of shadings on good and bad guys, from Lennix's nasty hero to Bellucci's helpful villain. There's also, fortunately, a nice dose of subtle comic relief, something the Wachowski brothers forgot to include in the first film. The able and very fit cast does its best with the terrible expository dialog, while the bizarre plot blends philosophy and religion in such a muddle that logic goes out the window (don't try to analyse it!). What we're here for, after all, are the action and effects, and the Wachowski's deliver on both fronts, with outrageously gripping fight choreography, spectacular combat sequences (the 15-minute freeway battle is astonishing) and head-spinning special effects (although they seem a little too enamoured with slo-mo--get over it!). This film works because it dares to deepen and broaden the original story without defining anything; it raises lots and lots of questions that go unanswered and actually, briefly, make us think. Although strangely, even with the semi-cliffhanger ending, I'm not that bothered about Part 3.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sex 16.May.03

dir Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
with Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Harold Perrineau, Jada Pinkett Smith, Monica Bellucci, Lambert Wilson, Harry Lennix, Randall Duk Kim, Anthony Zerbe, Gloria Foster, Nona Gaye
release US 15.May.03; UK 21.May.03
03/US 2h18

Above: Link, Neo, Trinity and Morpheus (Perrineau, Reeves, Moss, Fishburne) guide the Nebucadnezzar into battle. Below: Neo goes for a spin...

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See also: THE MATRIX (1999)
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... neo "I got in line with a bunch of other Matrix junkies late last Wednesday evening for an unadvertised (yet sold out) viewing of the movie. Before it even started, I was entertained by a stray comment heard from behind: 'Well, I know we won't be hearing "Neo, I am your Father..."'. The movie itself was a mixture of satisfaction, glee, confusion and disappointment. The action was every bit as remarkable and watchable as the first. I loved being reunited with Neo, Morpheus, Trinity and Smith, and I enjoyed some of the new characters, and even enjoyed the fact that some of the answers I thought I had at the end of the first film were now questions, but the dang thing was so confusing, and the philosophical speeches just left me tired. I liked that the shades of good and bad were blurred, but found that the inclusion of Zion and its inhabitants did not add much to the film for me. It will certainly be interesting to see the conclusion!" --IndigoJen, Los Angeles 21.May.03

"It was the biggest hype-machine since Phantom Menace with similar results. There were so many set pieces I got bored after a while. I couldn't figure out why it dropped something like 60% in ticket sales in the US when Bruce Almighty opened; maybe word's gotten round that it's not so hot." --Rick Jacobs, London 7.Jun.03

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back to the top THE MATRIX
the matrix
dir-scr Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
with Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Joe Pantoliano, Gloria Foster, Marcus Chong, Matt Doran, Belinda McClory, Julian Arahanga, Anthony Ray Parker, Paul Goddard
release US 31.Mar.99; UK 11.Jun.99
Warners 99/US 3 out of 5 stars
Revisiting 1999's monster hit before watching the first sequel, I had pretty much the same reaction as the first time around: What a pretentious, self-important pile of nonsense! Sure, it looks very, very cool. The Wachowski brothers use their cast perfectly, coaxing interesting performances and dressing them almost too stylishly. This is some of Keanu's best work, which isn't saying too much admittedly, but his Neo is a character we can really identify with. And while Fishburne does nice little things with his guru-like character Morpheus, it's Moss who has the most interesting character and does the most with it. Plus both Weaving and Pantoliano are great in more shaded roles. This is a real science fiction film, dealing with solid ideas for a change rather than just an excuse for action. And the effects and stunt work are astonishing; even though they've been over-imitated over the past four years they still stand up. What doesn't really stand up is the deeply derivative story, which mixes in every narrative known to man without going anywhere new with it (besides visually of course). It's neither as complicated, serious or as important as the Wachowskis obviously think it is. But it looks so good we'll let them get away with it. And we'll look forward to the sequels too. [15 themes, violence, language] 13.May.03
2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall