Science Fiction Thriller / Martial Arts Thriller
Keanu Reeves, Carrie Anne-Moss, Laurence
Fishburne, Hugo Weaving, Anthony Zerbe, Gloria Foster, Jada
Pinkett Smith, Monica Bellucci, Harold Perrineau, and Lambert
DIRECTORS / WRITERS:
Andy and Larry Wachowski
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The Matrix Reloaded
By Tom Snyder with Lisa Rice
HOLLYWOOD, CA (Assist
News Service) -- The Matrix Reloaded is a disappointing, derivative
sequel, not only on an aesthetic level, but also on a moral, philosophical,
and spiritual level as well. Despite high production values and some admittedly
wow sequences, someone should have taken a closer look at the script
and the technological capabilities of computer-generated images (CGI), which
clearly do not yet match the extravagant vision of the filmmakers.
In The Matrix Reloaded, Neo and the rebel leaders estimate that they
have 72 hours until 250,000 probes discover Zion and destroy it and its inhabitants.
As the clock ticks down, Neo must decide how he can save Trinity from a dark
fate in his dreams.
The sequel opens with a dream sequence, where Neo, the hero played by Keanu
Reeves, is haunted by the apparent death of his lover, Trinity, played by
Carrie Anne-Moss. After she calms his fears, reiterating their love for one
another, Neo, Trinity, and Morpheus, the commander of Nebuchednezzer, return
to Zion, the last underground city of humanity.
Zion is battling an evil group of computerized machines, which have enslaved
the rest of humanity, who are being used to generate the power needed by the
machines to survive. All is not safe for Zion, however. The machines have
sent 250,000 seeker destroyers, one for every man, woman and child in Zion.
Morpheus urges the Council of Zion to send Neo, Trinity and he back into
the Matrix, a virtual reality created for humans by the evil machines,
to find the key to the mainframe computer generating the Matrix. Morpheus
is one of the few in Zion who believe that Neo is the promised Messiah, the
promised One who can help them defeat the evil machines, and end the 100-year
war that has been raging.
Neo re-visits the Oracle, the black female prophet from the first movie,
who turns out to be a rogue computer program scheduled for deletion by the
machines. She tells Neo where to find the Keymaker who can unlock
the door leading to the mainframe computer.
and his friends have a couple major obstacles, however. The Keymaker is owned
by a malevolent Frenchman, who controls two very mean rogue programs called
the Twins. The Twins can dematerialize in the Matrix at will, making them
very hard to destroy. Neo also discovers that Agent Smith, the machines
henchman in the first movie, has become a rogue program himself. Making matters
much worse is the fact that Smith has found a way to duplicate himself many
times over, which leads to a very long fight scene between Neo and 100 Agent
The Matrix has been one of the most influential movies of the last
five years. It has become a major pop culture icon in America and around the
world. The Matrix Reloaded will undoubtedly continue that influence
in some respects, but it is much too derivative a movie. Furthermore, its
special effects, though they are many, are not as impressive as the media
hype would have people believe.
First, The Matrix Reloaded is a bit of a rehash of the first movie,
just bigger. The movie is not only derivative of Hong Kong action movies,
it also has a chase sequence on a freeway that seems ripped off from the chase
sequences in 1991s Terminator 2: Judgment Day, even down to similar
sounding music! Finally, near the end of the movie, Neo meets an older bearded
man in a white suit who calls himself the Architect of the Matrix.
The man looks like a replica of the White Guardian of Time in
an old British sci-fi series called Doctor Who which used to run on
many PBS stations in the United States. The White Guardian first appeared
in a six-part series of Doctor Who episodes called The Key of
Time, starring Tom Baker, who played Rasputin in Nicholas and Alexandria
about the last Russian Tsar and his wife. In fact, in another episode of Doctor
Who starring Tom Baker, Doctor Who is plugged into a virtual reality matrix
where he does battle with one of Doctors Whos many villains. The
question arises, therefore, is all this just homage, mere coincidence, or
Of course, The Matrix Reloaded pulls out all the martial arts, special
effects stops, and the movie certainly contains several awe inspiring moments
that dont compare to anything else. Even so, however, the martial arts
fighting becomes repetitive after a while. Also, some of the special effects
during the fight scenes and in the big freeway chase scene look like a cartoon
computer game rather than a live-action movie. This artificial, fake quality
may destroy many discerning viewers enjoyment of these sequences. The
CGI effects of the Gollum character in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
have nothing to fear from The Matrix movies.
The storyline plays on the concept of choice and the ramifications of choice,
i.e. since we, as humans, are imperfect, we make imperfect decisions.
This is confirmed when we meet the maker of the Matrix. He allows Neo to choose
between two doors, and the maker is sad that he makes an imperfect choice:
love over ending the war between the Matrix and Zion. The maker also makes
it clear that this is the sixth time that Neo has been in front of him. So,
a subtle message of reincarnation is slightly evident along with the fact
that even if Neo chooses the "love" door, he might be back to try
The Oracle is also important to this storyline. There is a line where they
say, The prophecy cannot be fulfilled unless we meet with the Oracle
first." Later, the importance of the Oracle is emphasized when it is
said, "The Oracle can do anything." So, this message of an allegorical
God continues in the second as it did in the first.
However, the most telling worldview scene is short, but to the point. Upon
visiting Zion, all these people (at least a hundred, or so) are waiting for
Neo in a long line. They initially appear to be of eastern descent, but upon
looking longer, they appear to be from many different Middle East countries.
They are coming to Neo as people would come to Christ in Jesus' day. One says,
I have a son... can you watch over him?" Neo says "sure."
Another has a similar "prayer-like" request, and Neo also agrees.
They are all holding artifacts which are given to Neo as gifts or used as
"points of connection" to the ones for whom they are praying. Knowing
that Neo is "the one" shows him briefly as some sort of savior to
these people in Zion.
The acting in The Matrix Reloaded is professional, but sometimes hampered
by uninspired dialogue. Character actor Anthony Zerbe, who some readers may
remember from many television programs in the 1960s and 1970s, plays one of
the councilmembers in Zion and provides a spark of humanity in the movie,
as does the late Gloria Foster as the Oracle. The villains, however, get most
of the funny lines, which makes them seem almost more real than the heroes
Most disappointing of all, however, is the movies failure to create
a convincing portrayal of Zion, the last human city. There is no depth or
character, much less variety, to this one-dimensional citys culture,
which leaves one to ask the question: Why is this city worth saving? Also,
in the big sequence that occurs in the city, Morpheus gives a speech to all
the Zion multitudes gathered in a huge cavern. One of the other characters
calls his speech a prayer, but there is no prayer whatsoever in
the speech. Its just a hopeful political speech about Morpheuss
belief that Zion will be victorious over the evil machines. This is
Zion, he shouts, and we are not afraid! Whoop-tee-do.
After his pep talk, which does not further the plot, there is a lengthy sex
scene between Neo and Trinity, who are both nude. As Neo and Trinity become
more passionate, the movie intercuts images of their nude bodies with images
of the crowd in the cavern dancing wildly and somewhat suggestively. Its
almost as if the dancing is a prelude to an orgy that, thankfully, does not
occur on screen.
There is no reason whatsoever to include this silly, offensive sex scene.
The scene does not further the plot one iota. In fact, it makes the inhabitants
of Zion look like mindless animals, which again raises the question, Why is
this city, and its inhabitants, worth saving? The scene also makes Neo and
Trinity seem less heroic and their relationship more sleazy, which is nearly
a fatal blow to these characters and their heroic, redemptive actions in the
rest of the story.
Another scene that involves explicit sex is a mix of a "real" view
and "green character" matrix view. A few times before this scene,
the audience "sees" the matrix the way Neo did, with the green letters
flowing around shapes of items or people in the room. Well, they meet up with
this "new" bad guy, and he tells a tale about cause and effect.
He says he "wrote" the slice of pie a girl was about to eat. The
audience is "shown" the pie as "matrix code," and then
they show her take a bite of it in "real" mode. As she finishes
the bite, the bad guy describes what she is feeling. She gets flush, gets
excited and gives into her feelings. At the point of "giving in to here
feelings", the camera zooms in to what would be a shot of her genitals,
but the audience is looking at the girl from the waist down through the "green
character" matrix mode. A small explosion of yellow and white characters
comes from between her legs as he describes her "giving in." She
quickly excuses her self from the table, slightly embarrassed by what has
Another strange scene involves a nice looking lady, named Percifious, with
large breasts, which are largely exposed, making a pass at Neo. She is married
to a new "bad guy," and she wants to help Neo out. However, she
has one request, made in front of Neo, Morpheus and Trinity (and this is after
the major sex scene). The request is an "indecent proposal"-like
request to have Neo kiss her like he kisses Trinity. Percifious says that
she could tell Neo and Trinity were in love, and Percifiouss husband
just didn't make her feel that way any more. So, if he kissed her correctly,
she would help them out. He agrees, and after the kiss (in front of Trinity),
Percifious helps them out.
There is only one brief drug scene where Morpheus is in the ship and gives
Trinity a shot in one of her "matrix connectors" of something that
was to "keep her from giving up" while she is in a battle "in
As to violence, this sequel has a little more gore than the first, including
three instances of bloodshed, including a direct gunshot to the forehead at
point blank range with the blood appearing on the wall behind. Another scene
has a person falling from the top of a banister where a close up of a bloody
shirt and a saber in the chest is shown. In a third instance, a guy is cutting
two lines in his hand, and blood is coming from his self-inflicted cuts.
There are many more fight scenes in this one over the first. The first fight
scene is with Trinity against about eight guards. This is fairly graphic as
heads are flopping over after being hit. There is a minute and a half basic
Matrix Kung Fu fight scene with Neo. The longer Kung Fu scene is with Neo
and the multiple copies of Mr. Smith. This is a longer scene (around 5.5 minutes)
with Neo fighting most of the time with a pole from the ground. Not something
for the children to watch, that's for sure.
Another scene is when Neo has to take on 3 "more trained" folks
from within the Matrix. One of these is a woman who is "speared"
to the wall for a short time. This is the first time Neo has fought with a
female, and its somewhat disturbing as audiences might assume he would
always fight men. So, when he kills all three foes, it seems strange.
The last major section of violence is a "freeway" scene. It has
awesome special effects but the amount of gunfire, fighting and car crashes
is quite intense. It's easy to get wrapped up in the moment since the effects
are so cool, but it's a long scene where the fighting just continues. Two
of the characters get blown "sky high" when the vehicle they are
in explodes. This hyper-realistic freeway scene will certainly give moviegoers
a healthy fear of trucks on the way home!
Despite talk about good versus evil, some redemptive elements and a mention
by Morpheus of Providence, The Matrix Reloaded contains
cryptic philosophical discussions about choice, fate, control, and purpose.
No answers are really reached, but the movie seems to be leaning toward a
humanistic view of such matters, although viewers will have to wait to find
out when the third part of the trilogy, The Matrix Revolutions, opens
later this year on Nov. 7.
The character of the Architect that Neo encounters has some God-like qualities,
but he seems to be malevolent, rather than inherently good. Neos discussion
with the Architect also leaves one with the impression that Zion itself may
be some kind of illusion. If so, the third movie may ultimately lead to the
monistic notion that all of reality is an illusion, which is an abhorrent
Eastern philosophy rejected by Christianity. Its hard to tell from this
movie, however, which direction the trilogy is headed.
Thus, viewers will have to wait until the third movie to see what kind of
religion and philosophy the filmmakers want us to consider or believe. Until
then, parents who want their children and teenagers to have healthy minds
and spirits probably should keep their children from venturing into this Matrix,
which, to reiterate, contains gratuitous sex, nudity, strong foul language,
and many violent images. The worst of these elements could easily have been
eliminated, without sacrificing any of the required thrills that moviegoers
demand of such blockbuster summer movies. X2: X-Men United remains
the best, most enjoyable, most redemptive action flick of the summer in 2003
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