Director: The Wachowski Brothers
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Carrie Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving
Series: The Matrix
MPAA Rating: R
Length: 138 Minutes
The Matrix Reloaded
(Spoilers for The Matrix are below)
The Matrix Reloaded looked to capitalize off the success of its predecessor The Matrix and continue Neo’s story as he leads humanity in the war against the machines. In a sequel that really needed to focus on expanding the story about the war effort against the machines, the film instead resorts to more of the same old formulas and tricks that made the first Matrix film great – lots of guns and kung fu fighting scenes.
Unfortunately this doesn’t work as The Matrix Reloaded seems to believe it can win over audiences by upgrading certain aspects of the fighting scenes from the previous film. Instead of Neo fighting hand to hand combat against enemies, he now fights enemies with SWORDS! Instead of Morpheus and Trinity fighting enemies in buildings they now fight them in MOVING VEHICLES!
The Matrix Reloaded is like the patch upgrade you download on your computer to improve your software: The Matrix is version 8.0 and The Matrix Reloaded is 8.01…. so little has been improved upon in this sequel you hardly even notice, and instead begin to question was this film even worth it? I’m sure Hollywood bank accounts would say yes, but the average film fan would definitely say no.
Beginning six months after the conclusion of The Matrix – Neo, Morpehus, and Trinity have been helping to free people from the matrix. The crew of the Nebuchadnezzar along with the people of Zion discover the machines are planning an invasion of the city and have begun digging towards them and will reach the city within 72 hours.
Neo seeks out the Oracle in order to figure out how to save Zion, she in turn instructs Neo to find the keymaker who can lead Neo to the source of the matrix and the salvation of humanity.
Hunting Neo and the rest of Morpheus’s crew is Agent Smith who has returned as a rogue program that is capable of duplicating itself via killing other humans and agents.
The Matrix Reloaded truly suffers through the first two thirds of the film. It feels like the Wachowski brothers are looking for any way possible to kill time in order to build up to Neo’s meeting with the keymaker. At one point with in the first twenty minutes of the film Neo remarks to Trinity, “I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing,” and that statement right there pretty much sums up all of the problems with Neo’s character in earliest portion. There is nothing for him to do.
So what do the filmmakers do, they find any excuse possible to put Neo in a fight scene. This unfortunately makes these scenes feel pointless, time that could be spent developing the war situation with the robots is instead wasted on pointless fights. Compare the fights from the first Matrix film which had points most of the time to the fights in the first half of this film.
In The Matrix Neo fights Morpheus in order to learn that certain rules within the Matrix can be broken, Morpheus fights Agent Smith in order to save Neo, Neo and Trinity fight the police officers in the giant corporate building in order to free Morpheus, Neo fights Agent Smith in the train station in order to determine whether or not he is the One. The point being these fights have meaning to the viewer because their is actual meaning behind the fights.
In The Matrix Reloaded fight scenes only seem to be added to reveal new information to the viewer, and often times there isn’t any emotional meaning behind them. In the sequel, Neo fights more agents and discovers they have been upgraded (he easily dispatches them anyways), Neo fights Seraph because Seraph believes fighting is the only way he can tell if Neo is the One, and Neo fights hundreds of Agent Smiths who basically show up to let Neo know he/they are now a rogue computer program and that he/they are more powerful. These fights scenes are time killers – sure the action scenes are still stylish – but they have no deeper meaning or consequences, making them feel pointless.
Illogical plot devices are highly distracting and their are plenty of those in this film. Consider this sequence of events that occur early in the story: Morpheus and his crew learn that robots are digging to Zion – Morpheus then tells what looks like millions of gathered citizens of Zion that the robots are coming to destroy them – Immediately after Morpheus delivers this message, drums start playing and the citizens of Zion begin dancing to what could only be considered crappy club music, which turns into an excuse for lots of wet moisturized bodies, men with ripped muscles, and women with see through shirts to begin grinding up against one another while Trinity and Neo have sex. How does news of the end of the world to a crowd of people turn into an orgy and not a riot? This doesn’t make sense, its distracting, and its insulting to everyone’s intelligence.
Morpheus’s speech warning the citizens of Zion is one of the most horribly acted moments of this entire series. This is not Laurence Fishburne’s fault, as his character is misused to deliver this announcement which resembles a “motivate the troops,” type of speech commonly found in military themed movies. Morpheus is a mentor, a wise guide to the people; he speaks quietly and is listened to. Forcing him to give a loud military speech goes against the developed attributes of his character, and promises to be a disaster in practice since Morpheus is a character that is not best suited to giving loud motivational speeches, but rather distributing quiet doses of wisdom.
Even George Lucas at his worst, and by worse I mean his involvement in making the Star Wars prequels knows better than to give the quiet wise figure a loud motivational military speech. Master Yoda, which for functional purposes is the mentor equivalent of Morpheus in Star Wars, never gives a long winded motivational speech to the troops (despite plenty of opportunities to do so) because he would be the worst character to convincingly pull this type of speech off. It’s poor thoughtless decisions like this that dominate The Matrix Reloaded and unfortunately make the film near unbearable at times.
The final third of this film is acceptable; it sets up the final third of the movie, expands into the unknown more, and it raises the stakes. The action sequences have more meaning to them, but the best part of this sequel never comes close to living up to its predecessor. The film ends on a cliffhanger for people to cling on to should they wish to see the final installment in this series, but in truth it’s not that great of a cliffhanger.
Making an analogy to a quote from one of its new characters, The Merovingian, who states following, can best sum up The Matrix Reloaded:
“I love French wine, like I love the French language. I have sampled every language, French is my favorite. Fantastic language. Especially to curse with…. It’s like wiping your ass with silk.”Ignoring the fact that Merovingian is delivering this speech in English instead of French, watching The Matrix Reloaded isn’t like wiping your ass with silk, it’s like wiping your ass with sandpaper. It leaves you feeling uncomfortable, pained, and questioning the point of making such a horrible decision.