Review: The Matrix: Reloaded

Legions of fans have been salivating for The Matrix Reloaded for four years since its 1999 debut in movie theaters and now in 2003 we will be given not one, not two, not three, but four new entries into the series in the forms of video games, movies, and animated shorts. Unfortunately those looking to recapture the amazement and magic of the first film won’t find it in this second installment of the series, but we can still hold out hope for the third.

The Matrix Reloaded is not a bad film, far from it in fact, but it certainly isn’t the best film it could have been with the imagination of it’s directors, Andy and Larry Wachowski. The whole movie comes off as a full notch below the original Matrix with amazing fight sequences interspersed between excruciatingly slow story progression and a total disregard for some of the events in the first movie. The MTV Spring Break Rave held in Zion and the “love triangle” only slow down the movie further. In fact the entire first half of the movie doesn’t even need to exist aside from the computer assisted fight sequences and appearance of the uber-cool Agent Smith.

With the addition of new characters and a convoluted storyline, which has more “Huh?” moments than an episode of Star Trek on a techno-babble high, the movie just never catches on with the audience and, instead, throws enough eye candy on the screen to make even the most jaded critic or patron drool on themselves in sheer awe at the physics of these sequences. But it still doesn’t make up for the fact that if you remove the fight and chase sequences from the movie you are left with a mediocre sci-fi film that could pass off as a straight to video release.

Reloaded picks up at an undetermined amount of time after the first movie. After Neo (Keanu Reeves) begins to have disturbing dreams about Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) he awaits word from the Oracle on his next step to save humanity. Just before this, as seen in Final Flight of the Osiris, the machines are drilling from the surface straight down to Zion in order to destroy the last human city. Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and the gang are employed with the task of finding the “Keymaker” in order to gain access to the matrix’s mainframe and learn the truth about the program once and for all. Without giving too much away, that is basically how the plot breaks down. Sure there are a few twists here and there, but nothing unexpected, and surely nothing overly dramatic that strays from the tried and true methods of sci-fi fare.

As stated the movie isn’t bad at all, and the aforementioned fight sequences are nothing short of spectacular in technical know-how and visuals. Neo’s fight with over 100 replicas of Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) is nothing short of awesome but after the battle is over it feels like it never needed to occur, as with all of the battles in the movie. At the end of The Matrix Neo tears Smith apart, literally shattering his “code,” but through Reloaded his plods in battle after battle as though he is just very good at Kung Fu. Except for his tendency to fly around Neo hasn’t changed very much even though he is “the one.”

The car chase scene, obviously sponsored by GM, is the highlight of the movie as Trinity, Morpheus, and the “Keymaker” escape in a Cadillac CTS on a busy freeway all while being shot and chased by Agents and The Twins who were so hyped and so underutilized you wonder why the parts were even written. As with everything else in the movie these new characters, including the lovely Persephone, bring the film to the least common multiple rather than raising it up to the intellectual superiority of the first film.

Reloaded never really comes into its own for the entire length of the movie. You feel as though you are being stringed along with more and more eye candy to a climatic ending but it never happens because that “climax” will supposedly happen in the third film, thereby taking even more money from the public who went into the movie with such high expectations.

Without the drool-drenched special effects the film stumbles on it’s own two feet as the story becomes so clouded from that of the first film. Maybe a desire to cater to a new audience, or a new found sense of freedom after the success of the first film caused the Wachowski brothers to craft this entry in a different light. Maybe Reloaded is simply a bridge to a much bigger, and better, story that we will see see in Revolutions this fall. Let’s just hope the last chapter in the series is able to rekindle the fire of the first.

Written by Erich Becker
Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!