The Matrix: Reloaded
Grade: A-
Year: 2003
Director: Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski
Writer: Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski
Genre: Sci-fi/Action
Rated: R
By Editor

Editor's Note: The premium review of this movie is now available. At 1130+ words, the premium review features in-depth analysis of the movie including:

  • MPAA Breakdown- what earned the film an R-rating, including explanations of Neo and Trinity's sex scene.
  • Wachowski Perversions-analysis of the risqué scenes
  • Mixed reactions- reasons why critics and fans alike had mixed reactions to the film.

    “But you said that way is suicide,” says Trinity.

    “Then let’s hope I am wrong,” says Morpheus.

    Hearing Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) wish for a flaw in his own logic is never a comforting thought. But in “Matrix Reloaded,” the much-improved sequel to the first film, Morpheus has fewer answers and fewer explanations. Everything is hope; everything is premonition. It’s all gut-instinct, and the reason is always, “because that is the way it has to be.”

    Morpheus is back, and along side him is Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss). They’re on a desperate mission to save Zion, the last city home to free humans. The machines are approaching, and in 72 hours, Zion will fall. Morpheus has a plan, but he faces strong resistance from his superior officer, Commander Lock (Harry Lennix). While Morpheus believes the transport ships should be used find the source (a part of the plot I won’t reveal), Lock believes every ship should remain docked at Zion in order to fend off the incoming machines.

    The operator and programmer of Morpheus' ship is the loyal, Link (Harold Perrineau). His wife, Zee (Nona Gaye), is growing agitated that her husband is active while the other crews remain with their ships in Zion. One of those ships is controlled by the fierce, Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith). She used to see Morpheus until that relationship ended, and now she is dating Commander Lock. Sigh, another awkward love-triangle. But fortunately, that sub-plot doesn’t interfere with the main story.

    And not all of the love is awkward. I highly enjoyed the scene when everyone is back home in Zion, including Morpheus and his crew. This gives Neo and Trinity the opportunity to have a steamy, yet surprisingly effective sex scene. While the city of Zion dances to a rave-paced techno track, see-thru shirts and all, Neo and Trinity make love to each other under the covers. Already the sexuality in “Reloaded” surpasses the first film, and it’s still not finished; there’s plenty more to come. But rest assure, it’s all done in style.

    Returning is Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), the once feared program who is out to destroy Neo. But the real bad guy in this story is a pair of two bright soldiers known only as the Twins (Neil and Adrian Rayment). The have the ability to vanish and reappear at will, and can regenerate damaged flesh wounds. We’re talking the powers of Wolverine and Nightcrawler, combined. Their amazing abilities are showcased in an outstanding fight against Morpheus.

    We also meet the beautiful Persephone (Monica Bellucci) and her acquaintance, the snobby Merovingian (Lambert Wilson). Persephone will introduce us to a very important character I will not reveal, but not before requiring Neo to kiss her, and in front of Trinity. I enjoyed this scene because I was reminded of the classic fantasy epics where the hero must answer three questions before crossing the bridge. Here, Neo must satisfy Persephone with his kiss before proceeding.

    The Wachowski brothers prove they are consistent when it comes to dazzling never-been-done-before special effects and directing techniques. They know what they’re doing, and all of it is proved in the many action scenes that will have ‘wow’ running through your mind over and over again.

    “Reloaded” delivers on the issue I am always complaining about regarding martial arts films, and that is the necessity for us to see what is actually taking place. Movies like “Bulletproof Monk” boast innovative fighting scenes, yet the camera is always too slow for the action. “Daredevil” suffers greatly from this problem. Our hero jumps from building to building at speeds too fast for the camera. I finally have a movie to reference, for the next time I complain about slow camera angles.

    And this has nothing to do with a $300 million budget or limit-less special effects capabilities. “Reloaded” simply offers great hand-to-hand combat that uses no special effects or computer gimmickry. No, my friends; “Reloaded’s” best weapon is its choreography at the command of the great Woo-ping Yuen, whose resume includes “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” The hands make contact and the bodies hit the ground; all in the same shot. We see everything, something we don’t see in most movies.

    Despite its brilliance, “Reloaded” is far from perfect. It breaks (as do most movies) the law of human vitality and follows the “last words” formula. Characters who take multiple machine gun bullets to the chest should not be able to say any last words after collapsing to the ground in his/her own pool of blood. But in order to fulfill the prophecy, the dying character must reveal his/her crucial secret before finally croaking in front of our surviving heroes.

    There is also too much dialogue to chew on, and it occurs in segments. Had the narration of events happened in sequence, it wouldn’t have been so bad. But here, we watch several scenes of pure action, only to be sucked into a scene of total dialogue that attempts to explain about the Matrix whatever was left out in the first film. Take the scene where Neo meets the Architect. Here, we are literally lectured on never-ending material that covers most of the who’s, how’s and what’s. The Wachowski brothers should have realized our jaws would still be on the floor from the previous fight scene, and it wouldn’t be the smartest idea to overload us with story theories and hypotheses.

    Even with all the evasive dialogue, the script is solid and I enjoyed most of the conversational dialogue. What I don’t appreciate is how the Wachowski brothers feel the need to break the 4th wall by trying to relate the real word with The Matrix. In the first film, Morpheus explains to Neo that every time a person experiences an episode of deja vu, a glitch has occurred in The Matrix. This is an obvious attempt to get the audience thinking about our own deja vu experiences. Does The Matrix really exist? I don’t mind that in the story, deja vu is a glitch, but it is told out of place. In “Reloaded,” The Wachowskis pull the same stunt. Here, Morpheus explains that every time a person recalls a fictional story, such as Dracula or vampires, he is actually recalling a program that was made by a hacker or someone doing something he wasn’t supposed to do with the system. Yeah, right. Again, these should have been written in more smoothly, and not made for the purpose of giving Morpheus one more thing to say that Neo doesn’t know.

    More facts become known. Neo is much more powerful this time around. He can fly, at speeds that would make Superman sweat. He can also stop machine gun bullets by simply holding up his hand. His great abilities do, however, make us question the basic logic of the film. Why does he only sometimes take advantage of his abilities? In one of the movie’s greatest scenes, Neo engages hundreds of Agent Smiths. We wonder why he doesn’t just lift his hand up to keep them at a distance. We wonder why he doesn’t just fly away. Ah, but then there would be no great scene. It is reasonable to question whether Neo was made too powerful, and that he simply decides to allow the inferior Smiths a fighting chance. As shown in the trailer, a simple arm-flap is enough to propel his attackers into the air off of his body. He is truly untouchable, at least when he wants to be.

    This is the only time when I agree with other critics that “The Matrix” resembles a comic-book. Here, characters don’t use their full potential because they have the obligation of providing entertainment. In the first film, we feared Agent Smith because we knew little about him. We get a lot more of him in “Reloaded,” but he and his hundreds of clones never become a real threat to the all-powerful Neo. They are all merely sparring practice.

    I’ve already mentioned The Twins; two hard-core agents who are more worthy than Agent Smith at taking on Neo. But they too don’t make very wise decisions. They take part in an exhilarating 14-minute highway chase scene near the end of the film, but it would have been a lot shorter had they just aimed for the tires. Neo would have saved himself some trouble, had he just flown away when the many Smiths entered the arena. But these are just minor elements to pick at, and we rather watch the fights anyway, even if they aren’t necessary.

    Stay for the “Matrix: Revolutions” trailer at the end if you want to; it’s not great, but how can you not want a sneak-peek after “To Be Concluded” paints the last frame of the movie? If you instead opt to beat the traffic instead of enduring the lengthy credits for the “Revolutions” trailer, I promise you won’t be missing much.

    “Matrix Reloaded” is in fact reloaded in complete revamped fashion. Breath-taking special effects with even better martial arts choreography will surely entertain Matrix fans and even those who were displeased by the first film. There are a few things to quibble over, but for the most part, “Reloaded” is a first-rate action movie that runs faster than any 138-minute movie this year. You’ve waited four years for this; it’s time once again…to free your mind.

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