138 – The Matrix: Reloaded

If you’ve seen The Matrix (1999), then you’ll appreciate this movie. If you haven’t, you’re going to be lost. There’s a lot in here that depends on the plot of the original. So please, go see the original before seeing this sequel.

The Matrix itself is basically everything you see – the entire planet, the movie says, is controlled by machines. Only a select few know this, and their mission in life is to free the minds of others who are enslaved by the Matrix, leading them to the city of Zion, located about the Earth’s core.

One of the chief rebels is Morpheus, played by Lawrence Fishburne. Morpheus, in the original movie, thinks he’s stumbled upon The One, the person who can save Zion and the rest of humanity from the Matrix. That would be Neo, played by Keanu Reeves.

As the second movie opens, the machines have discovered Zion and are tunnelling to it. It’s only a matter of time before they tunnel through and kill all those inside. But rather than fortify the defenses of the city, Morpheus believes in the prophecy of The One. He defies the orders of the city’s elders and brings Neo back to the surface (that is, the Matrix) so that he can meet with the wise Oracle.

Are you confused yet? There are many themes here, some of which are philosophical and metaphysical in nature. One can view this movie on two fronts: as a gritty action movie or as a thought-provoking drama.

Reloaded is replete with some eye-opening special effects, many of which were computer generated. In one scene, Neo combats the evil Agent Smith. Oh, but not just one Agent Smith – 100 of them at once. It’s not like those cheesy kung fu movies where the villains take turns beating up on Bruce Lee; in this one, they attack simultaneously. Another scene features a fight atop a tractor-trailer on a crowded freeway.

It’s tough to convey all of the complexities of the plot. In fact, this is a movie that people – like the original – will need to watch multiple times just to catch all of the plot twists. What does it all mean? And even more important, what’s it all leading to? This is the second movie of the series, with the third one coming out in November this year.

Rather than delve into the intricacies of the storyline, let me give you some pros and cons. If you’re a fan of the series, you’re going to go no matter what I say, and if you thought the first one was a waste or not for you anyway, you won’t be going to this one.

Let’s look at the acting. It’s wooden. Keanu Reeves was born to play this role, as it requires little to no emoting. Plus, he looks cool in shades and a trenchcoat. I’ll admit it, he looks very good, and in the non-computer-generated fight scenes, he looks somewhat plausible.

His love interest, the mysterious Trinity, is played by Carrie-Anne Moss. Another one who simply cannot act, so she fits right in. Now, this may be a simple matter of personal tastes, but she’s astoundingly unattractive. She’s Neo’s love interest, and yet the two of them have absolutely no chemistry. It’s like watching a totem pole and a mop mate.

Eew.Even Fishburne didn’t come off perfectly. Some of his lines sound like they came off a cereal box top. Sure, that’s no fault of Larry, but his delivery had the resonance of a funeral dirge. He’s a very
commanding figure, though, and he does deliver a solid performance as Morpheus.

Okay, so maybe the acting isn’t wonderful. Who cares, right? You don’t watch these movies for the emoting. Let’s see some tail being kicked!

The action sequences are very good, although not quite as overwhelming as those in the original. There are some additions – Agent Smith can replicate, and Neo can now fly. The flying thing is key, but quite frankly he just looks like Superman with a different color cape. Even so, the sequences themselves are good. The problem is that sometimes they seemed to be thrown into the movie for no real reason other than to have an action scene. Another problem is that these scenes seemed to come right from a Nintendo game. You know, the type where you hit something like up and right and the B button to do a freaky Street Fighter move on someone? Plus several times in each scene, the action is paused so that the audience can get the full effect, since everyone’s moving so quickly.

Another big difference between this movie and the original is that although the original was pretty philosophical itself, it expressed philosophical themes with tangible objects, such as the pills and the spoon. You see? We normal folk can grasp those concepts when the themes are expressed in that manner. But the second film relies more on abstract concepts, and that might lose people who don’t have doctorates in Jungian theories.

The ending is a little bit of a downer, but since we know it’s leading up to the third film, we shouldn’t feel particularly let down. Yes, it’s “to be continued,” but this movie more than stands on its own. Think of it more as an episode.

The Matrix: Reloaded: ***

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