Predictably, it’s time to review the second film in “The Matrix” trilogy. Let’s reload before the revolutions begin…
It’s funny how “The Matrix” series and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series mirror each other. You get the sleeper hit of the first one, which becomes ridiculously popular on Video/DVD. Then some odious film fucks decide that they don’t have enough mountains of Coke at their parties so they commission sequels to be filmed back-to-back. The second one is ridiculously complicated and sours hopes for the third one. The third one is released and somehow manages to fall below even the lowest expectations of the World-weary audience. What’s that? A plot summary? Good luck. The film is way too convoluted. Basically, Neo (Keanu Reeves) is the One and can shape everything in the Matrix (i.e. the World we live in) to his will. He can defeat Agents, fly, but somehow still can’t act. Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) is also still inexplicably in love with him. Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) is somehow back and can now replicate himself. Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) is also in the mix somewhere.
I think the key word to describe “Reloaded” is “overambitious”. There are some truly great ideas here, but they are dealt with in a sloppy way. A prime example of this was the much hyped “Burly Brawl” in which Neo takes on hundreds of Agent Smiths. It’s a fantastic concept, but there were limits to the technology and the fight goes from an ingenious scrap between 10 Smiths and Neo, to a video game cutscene featuring a block of pixels vaguely resembling Keanu Reeves. Six years on, I’m still sure that it couldn’t be pulled off convincingly with today’s technology. It’s a case of big idea, limited means.
One of the biggest mistakes “Reloaded” makes is that we spend too much time in “the real World”, i.e. a scummy, muddy cave city called Zion where they have sweaty slow-motion raves to shitty music. It’s really boring. When we were in the real World in “The Matrix”, it was passable because the characters were interesting enough to make us want to know more about them. Thing is, they pretty much killed all the interesting characters in the first one, so that sucks balls. Speaking of which- a Trinity/Neo sex scene? Who’s bright idea was that? It would be O.K. if it wasn’t so embarrassingly done. I know the scene is there to prove to us that Trinity and Neo are a loving couple- and that’s fine. However, the way it’s done comes across as one of those foreign “art” films where they all get naked and shag in low-level lighting to odd music. (Sigh)
A lot that the scenes I like in “Reloaded” are often the lower-key ones. I liked seeing the Oracle (Gloria Foster) again, eventhough her lines are nowhere near as good as they were in the first one. I also liked the one-on-one fight between Neo and Seraph (Collin Chou). In fact, the thing I liked most about the huge freeway sequence was the Morpheus/Agent fight on top of a truck. It’s very well done. Clearly a lot of work (and money) went into the freeway sequence. It’s huge in scale. However, it says a lot that my favourite bit wasn’t any of the car flipping or the bike racing, but some good old fashioned fisticuffs on top of a truck. Maybe they should have concentrated on that rather than all this superfluous stuff. Talking of superfluous, the Twins- why were they in it? Completely wasted potential as I liked their unique gimmick of becoming all transparent and ghost-like at will. They were British though, so they reminded me Hollywood can go fuck itself.
I can’t review this film without talking about the infamous “Architect” scene. What the fuck is Colonel Sanders on about? I’m not stupid but I found myself getting lost in the sea of elongated words and mini T.V. Neos. Much like the rest of the film it’s abstruse (see what happens when you use words that people don’t generally know? You’re taken right out of it…)
“Reloaded” was never going to live up to being a worthy successor to “The Matrix”. It just couldn’t have the impact that the first film had. It sacrifices the human element for action and then expects you to pay attention when it’s talking about all its religious/mythological bullshit parallels. I therefore give it an average 3 stars. Ergo! Vis-a-vis! Concordantly!