Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) is falling out of a building in bullet time, glass shattering around her, with an agent hot on her heels blasting her with what looks like a Desert Eagle. One connects, and Neo (Keanu Reeves) wakes up. This is the start of one of the most hyped movies in years, the sequel to the insanely popular The Matrix of 1999. The original Matrix had an interesting blend of bad acting, cool (and revolutionary) special effects sequences, and even some philosophy thrown in.
After the (BAM!) opener, we are on the Morpheus’s (a robot-like Laurence Fishburne) hovercraft, the Nebuchadnezzar, and are introduced to Harold Perrineau, Jr., (the weelchair-bound guy in HBO’s Oz) who is the new “operator,” replacing Tank, whose character died between the movies or something. Eventually we get to see Zion, and it is nice, detailed and everything–what you would expect from an underground city. The entire Zion sequence seriously hinders the pacing of this film. Since everyone knows what’s going on, this sequence really should have been expedited for the sake of a more solid movie. We are subjected to a “rousing” speech by Morpheus and ensuing rave/sex sequence that eventually culminates in a distressing ass-shot of Neo, and a bunch of parliamentary shit like in the recent Star Wars films.
The actual plot of the movie is pretty simplistic, but it seems the Wachowski Brothers (The writers and directors of this film) wanted to do the same thing that Brian Singer did in X2 and add as many new characters and things as possible to set up for the next movie. Now, granted, the sequel (Revolutions)was shot at the same time as Reloaded, but all of the bad guys get kind of confusing. There are Agents, Agent Smith (he went whacko), Sentinels, some crazy ass French Guy, his wife, French Guy’s henchmen, the Ghost Twins, time, military guys who don’t care for Morpheus’s spiritual shit, and the Matrix itself. It’s a lot for a guy looking for an ass-kicking time at the movies to handle. While the plot of Reloaded is slightly more centralized overall than that of X2, it nonetheless suffers from the same disjointed feel.
Now, we here are fans of Plato, and not just in the sense of colored, nontoxic clay, and using the reverse-allegory of the cave in the first film was interesting. But now, Keanu Reeves, who is one of the worst actors in the history of the world (he was Ted in a movie called Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, “Woah”), is trying to find out about himself, the Matrix, how to stop an ungodly number of sentinels from destroying Zion, and whatever other cool shit he can do because he is ‘the One.’ Basically, Keanu just meets people and fights them–there any interesting social commentaries at all–just a lame explanation for ghosts.
The fighting is where the movie is really cool, and there is a whole lot of it; Kung fu out the wazoo. Of particular interest is a scene titled “Neo vs. 100 Agent Smiths.” In this particular scene, Neo fights 100 Agent Smiths (did the title give it away?) It’s pretty cool to watch, and it took 2 years to make the CGI work. Also, Neo does one of those cool grab-shit-off-the-wall-and-fight-with-it moves found in many Kung fu movies. The fight choreography is incredible (sometimes to the point that you wonder whether you’re still watching a fight or a swan ballet). There is also one notably sweet 14-minute chase sequence making this movie a fairly solid action flick.
However, the acting is just bad. Sure, everyone worked out a lot, and there were a million stunts, etc.. but the only decent characters were new-comers: these ghost-twin dudes, eloquently named Twin 1 and Twin 2, who don’t show up until the middle and have razor blades and no lines; and Perrineau as Link, the wisecracking operator. Even with a stupid back story to give his character depth, Perrineau is still a step above the last guy–he actually knows what is going on in the Matrix instead of just shouting, “WHAT’S GOING ON?” like Tank did.
The writing is decent, the plot is entertaining enough, and the philosophy (taken straight out of an entry-level philosophy course — “the key, Neo, find the key to the door“) fits well enough. There are, however, stupid one-liners; the inexplicable rave in Zion; and a really weird sex scene between Neo and Trinity, who are realllllllllly hot for each other. Trinity and Neo basically want to have sex whenever possible–but they are soul mates too, or something along those lines, so hold up Jerry Falwell, I’m sure they are going to get married.
In the end, Matrix Reloaded will please fans of both shitty philosophy and awesome action sequences once they get over the emotionless brick that is Keanu Reeves, and it is guaranteed to make a lot of money with all of the tie-ins, video games, DVD’s and the next film release, Revolutions in September. Unfortunately, the movie simply could not live up to the hype surrounding it. It’s a decent ride, and worth the theater experience. If philosophy isn’t you cup of tea, then get the DVD this summer and skip to the action scenes.