The Matrix Reloaded

Review No. 586

“Reloaded”. Bastardized. Misfired.



Directors — the Wachowski brothers
Producer — Joel Silver
Screenplay — the Wachowski brothers

Keanu Reeves — Neo
Laurence Fishburne — Morpheus
Carrie-Anne Moss — Trinity
Hugo Weaving — Smith
Harold Perrineau — Link
Randall Duk Kim — The Keymaker
Jada Pinkett Smith — Niobe

Distributor — Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date — May 15, 2003
Language — English & French
Country — USA & Australia
Running Time — 2 hours, 18 minutes
MPAA Rating — R
MPAA Description — sci-fi violence and some sexuality


Go back seven more decades.  I know this one’s ten years old, but if it’s at all worth celebrating, it’s because the octogenarian King Kong has now been disproved.  It was beast killed the beauty.  Maybe if Robert Armstrong had some sort of crystal ball, he could have foreseen Y2k, the ultimate way to ruin The Matrix.  The computers may not have shut down, but some human computers certainly did.  Riddle me this: if I was supposed to wait four years after The Matrix before watching The Matrix Reloaded (à la those who viewed both in theaters), and then view The Matrix Revolutions (part three) six months later (à la those who finished off the trilogy in theaters), then what was the point of making The Matrix such an entertaining movie?  That’s what I wonder after The Matrix Reloaded.  The Wachowskis obviously hadn’t planned on a trilogy, because they didn’t exactly plan on making a classic sci-fi movie.  It’s a “trilogy crime,” like the one committed thirteen years earlier, when we endured The Godfather Part III (intended as an epilogue, but very close to a third of the trilogy’s length).

Rationally speaking, it’s not a trilogy.  The Matrix featured Neo going out of his hacker life and pursuing a nightmare that was disguised as a dream.  He was programmed the basically save the world, but he was also being used.  Yet The Matrix Reloaded tries to completely follow up and reinvent the genesis, even ending on a title card (not to mention a sudden and unusual shot) that confirms The Matrix Revolutions entirely.  I’m not saying that he who reinvents and follows up is he himself a heretic.  James Cameron did it by convincing us that T-800 was alive–not to mention, that he was a hero not a villain in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.  But he did it right.  He didn’t create a love life between his two previous heroes.  I certainly don’t remember Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne-Moss in anything more than a business partnership in The Matrix.  It may have happened, but I highly doubt it would be so fleeting to evade my memory, which is photographic for memorable movies like that which became the first in the trilogy.

May the Force be–“yeah, buddy, let’s throw away that one next!” NO.

Even more money was made by this sequel.  How can I call it a sequel?  It has The Matrix in the title.  Let’s go to extremes: Troll has “troll” in the title, and so does Troll 2, but while Troll is an American movie about trolls, Troll 2 is an Italian movie about goblins.  Look at it this way…they’re still human, I think.  These characters aren’t the same as they were the first time around!  By name, and by actor, sure, but not by personality.  (I don’t even think the stunt guys were the same.  Keanu’s double seemed pretty hopeless.)  This is more like Star Trek, except you can only pray that it ends after forty-five minutes, and I think Laurence Fishburne was in a more Star Wars mentality.  He dresses like Luke Skywalker, and it’s a well-chosen costume since we’re supposed to sympathize him.  Yet we sympathized with Keanu Reeves for over the two hours that preceded this.  For those who missed my prior mention, this isn’t of much apparent relation to The Matrix, and perhaps it’s not by the same directors.  Maybe it’s an extreme comparison, but just as Charles Manson was the same person before he heard The White Album, the Wachowskis were of a completely different mentality before they saw a movie of theirs make money.  Somewhere between 1999 (The Matrix in March) and 2003 (Reloaded in May, followed by Revolutions in November), there must’ve been the Great Epiphany: This is over $463.5 million.  And to think that we’d lose money from this movie!  How about we do it again.  Just once more  No, no, no…twice more!  Up the budget a bit, $65 million sounds like “B-movie” with this many fans, let’s go at least $125 million.  And we’ll release them six months apart.  Keepin’ the audience on a ledge for six months, that’s right!

Exactly how you turn two geniuses into two skilled robbers, ladies and gentlemen.  I certainly wasn’t left hanging.  I’ve seen worse movies, which makes me appreciate some of what made The Matrix Reloaded watchable, even enjoyable once or twice.  For those who know of the icon that is Tom Cruise in Risky Business, or Jimmy Dean in Rebel without a Cause, take the Ray-Ban Wayfarer shades (though I doubt the exact brand was used here) and the leather jacket.  Keanu Reeves wears it well, and it seems to be the master of his acting.  Carrie Anne-Moss is always at the top of her game, especially during action sequences.  In fact, every cast member, save for the anemically performed Laurence Fishburne, delivers well enough.  But they’re just animated puppets under a puppet master who doesn’t care.  Or, as Alfred Hitchcock may or may not have agreed to, they’re cattle being deported accidentally to a slaughterhouse instead of another stable.

No film has made me wonder if a remote control would actually assist with the experience.  I’d like to think there’s a purpose for these talky scenes, but y’know, there’s so much dialogue.  When it cuts into the action that was so much fun in ’99, the least you can ask for is a more interesting attempt.  And a more interested attempt from the Wachowskis.  It’s a game of please the audience.  I’m very pleased by the special effects.  They’re mind-blowing, but then again, the story is mind-numbing so I guess that evens it out.  Best of all is the title.  How true that the classic in a paper shredder is a hokey script known as The Matrix Reloaded, because The Matrix was indeed “reloaded.”  Why there was such desire to misfire, I’m not exactly sure.

POSTSCRIPT: Who noticed that this review is an acrostic?  If I actually did honor what the movie was trying to say with its annoyingly sharp cinematography, I would have unplugged my computer so that…well, just look at the first letter of each paragraph.  A little way of cheering myself up after watching a classic get torn by its own directors.


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