The sequel to The Matrix
The Matrix Reloaded comes four years after the stellar first installment that has launched generations of inspired films of its nature. “The Matrix” really brought movies into the 2000 age with impressive special effects, a dazzling story full of twists, and at it's core it's a masterful and intellectual action film, so with such a high mark set, does the second movie of this matrix trilogy hold pace?
It's obviously not as good of a film as the first “Matrix”, it doesn't have the same magical effect being transported to this cyber world by landline. While the original film took it's time to tell its narrative, “Reloaded” goes right into the action, which is to its benefit. This isn't a rehashed version of the first film; it definitely builds the worlds, both cyber and real. However, this is where we really see the Wachowskis start to struggle with narrative. It tries too hard to be as intelligent and thought provoking as the first film, when really this is a straight forward sci fi action movie (albeit better than a lot of others of it's genre). It's just not the mind bending spectacle one would expect after such an explosive first installment.
We follow two stories, first we follow Neo (Keanu Reeves, “John Wick”) as he continues to search for the truth about himself while fighting endless amounts of enemies to reach his ultimate objective; retrieving a man called the Keymaker (Randall Due Kim, “John Wick: Chapter 3- Parabellum”) in order to save their real life City of Zion. Meanwhile back at Zion, the city prepares for a defensive battle against the ultimate machine enemy: the sentinels and there's over a quarter million of them. So the stakes are set and they're high, and with those high stakes comes some impressive action sequences, primarily the highway chase scene between Neo and the gang and the two twin things as Link (Harold Perrineau) calls them. It’s a high caliber set piece, and besides some dated special effects it's done very well. Although the same cannot be said about the fight scene between Neo and the million agent Smith's, the whole thing looks like an early Xbox video game cutscene, it's really an eye soar and left me with a headache.
I don't believe the Wachowskis made a bad sequel, they may have bit off a bit more than they could chew, but it doesn't overly exceed their ambitions. The world building is very fun if a bit muddled, it's nice to see the booming city of Zion and all of its strange inhabitants, it feels fully realized in an artistic sense, but the city lacks narrative, even the leader of the city cant explain how things work, some parts feel as if the Wachowskis just thought something seemed cool and threw it in without any sort of logical explanation, but that being said it's still really nothing like I've seen before. It's massive in scale and it does look pretty darn cool. As stated before with the city comes it's inhabitants, which we really only see the citizens in one strange dance scene, which also acts double as a sex scene between Neo and Trinity (Carrie Anne-Moss, “Chocolat”) and it's really all just filler. But we are introduced to a plethora of hero characters who are mainly ship captains and protectors of Zion.
I wish there was a more human element to this movie, there's a void of emotion between the characters except for Neo and Trinity. There should have been more drama in the city, they do touch on a sort of love triangle between Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne, “The Mule”), Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith, “Collateral”) and the lead commander Lock (Harry Lennix, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”), but it's never fully realized and the action usually gets in the way. And while the first film definitely had some cheese, this one takes it to a whole new level. Instead of Trinity bringing Neo back to life, this time Neo brings Trinity back to life by reaching his hand into Trinity's chest and jumpstarting her heart, I don't care what world I'm in; that's just stupid and lazy writing. Then at the end we're introduced to the "creator of the matrix", The Architect (Helmut Bakaitis, “Hacksaw Ridge”) who spills incoherent bullcrap to Neo explaining how this isn't the first time Zion has been destroyed, that Neo has been in this same place multiple times and gives Neo choice between two doors much similar to the pills from the first film, this is confusing both him and audience when it all actuality everything that happens in this scene is virtually useless and meaningless, it feels like the Wachowskis needed to add some sort of sci Fi flare, some complexity to the thin narrative but when it's just slapped together to get our hero moving in the right direction it really doesn't work and it's very noticeable that this idea wasn't fully fleshed out.
The Matrix Reloaded is an underwhelming sequel but it still has plenty moments of strength, really showcasing the action talents of the Wachowskis but also exposing they're weakness in narrative. For what this lacks in compelling story it makes up for with bombastic action, and there's a lot of it, it never hits the dazzling heights of its predecessor but with some strong world building and set pieces The Matrix Reloaded is still an enjoyable time with these characters and this world, just ignore the cheese and turn your brain off and you should be in for a solid action filled time.
I give The Matrix Reloaded 3.5 stars out of 5.
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