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The Matrix Reloaded

The Matrix Reloaded

What He said:


I could be wrong, but I don’t think I’ve seen this movie since it came out on DVD around a decade ago. I remember seeing it once in the theater and maybe one more time after that. I never felt the need to revisit it. I remember how psyched I was to see it. This sequel was a big deal.  People were really pumped to see this movie and I was one of them. This was one of the most anticipated sequels in years. There really hadn’t been many successful sci fi series in theaters since Star Wars, so I think the idea that people could immerse themselves in a new universe excited them. Then when I saw it I was kind of “meh” about the whole experience. Having recently watched the original (review here), I decided to give this movie another viewing, because I really wanted to watch the entire trilogy from start-to-finish.

Sometimes sequels feel like they are made up after the fact. The end of the original movie has closure and doesn’t lend itself to telling any more stories. Say what you will about The Matrix sequels, but that argument can’t be made here. The Wachowskis were definitely thinking ahead. The end of The Matrix revealed Neo (Keanu Reeves) as the One, and he defeated Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), but there were still millions of humans enslaved inside the Matrix. The machines were still trying to kill the humans no longer trapped inside the Matrix. In other words, the bad guys were still winning.

The Matrix Reloaded

The Matrix Reloaded opens up with Trinity (Carrie Ann Moss) being chased by an Agent. Things aren’t looking so good for her. She’s beat up pretty badly, but that’s the least of her worries, as she is currently falling from a building. Well it turns out this is all a dream. It’s Neo’s dream actually. Apparently his powers have grown. He now has the ability to see future events. But the problem with those kinds of powers, you never get to see the whole story, you only get snippets. That’s always the way it goes isn’t it?  Being the messiah of the last human city isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Speaking of that, Neo is still trying to get used to the idea of being the One. He seems at home fighting the bad guys inside of the Matrix, but back in Zion (the last human city), he is uncomfortable with all of the attention. People are in awe of him. They give him things, come to him for advice, and pretty much worship the ground he walks on. One of them is “the Kid”. The Kid (Clayton Watson) says that Neo saved him, literally. He thinks Neo is responsible for rescuing him from the Matrix, and follows  him around, pledging to help him with anything. He’s like a loyal dog – he’s very eager to please Neo.

Also related to the city of Zion, we find out that Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) isn’t even in a leadership position, at least not officially. In the original, you get the impression he’s the leader or at least one of the leaders of the human resistance. In this one, we find out that he’s just a commander of a ship. I will say though that even though he has no official leadership role, his faith in Neo is a huge motivational factor for many within Zion. People put a lot of stock in what he says. This drives commander Lock (Harry Lennix) nuts. Lock is in charge of the military and Morpheus is constantly disobeying orders, which infuriates Lock, because he needs every last ship to protect Zion. Even more irritating to Lock is that the council (a bunch of old folks in charge) often lets Morpheus do what he pleases, because they have faith in Neo. There is a lot of faith vs. fact stuff going on here. Morpheus has faith that Neo can save humanity, but Lock doesn’t care. He’s concerned about the machines, who have discovered the location of Zion and are digging their way down to it. The council tells Lock he can have all but two ships to defend the city. The other two go to the surface above so they can hack into the Matrix and Neo can meet with the Oracle.

The Matrix Reloaded

I have to pause for a second here to point out one of my biggest gripes with the movie. Yes, I’m talking about the orgy scene at Zion. Ok, I get it. The humans just found out the machines are digging their way down to Zion and they could die any day now. They are letting their hair down and celebrating like there’s no tomorrow. I don’t fail to comprehend this. That doesn’t mean I want to see it, but I get it. Plus, the execution is just so…uncomfortable. The Wachowski’s are obviously into some very “different” things. Whatever, that’s fine. I don’t care. But their need to shove into your face more and more each movie got obnoxious, if not disturbing. I didn’t mind the leather (an obvious nod to a bondage fetish) in the original. I didn’t mind the people in cages and other similar stuff they were hinting at in the original movie. This one just beats you over the head with it though. I remember countless teens giggling in the theater when I saw this and I felt a similar reaction. How couldn’t you? Do you find yourself really wanting to watch that scene? I don’t. Keep that shit in the house. Plus, it looks like Neo and Trinity are doing it in one of those brick ovens they make pizza in and that makes me laugh even more.

Ok, so Morpheus, Neo, and Trinity decided they have to go meet the Oracle (Gloria Foster) again. She’s been on the run since the first movie, but after being given her location by one of her associates – a soften spoken ass-kicker named Seraph – Neo is finally able to sit down with her and figure out what the humans next move is. She tells him a few different things, but most importantly that they have to go meet some fella named the Merovingian. The Merovingian (Lambert Wilson) is actually a program who lives inside the Matrix. He’s not on the machines side, but definitely not on humanity’s side either. He’s kind of like Jabba the Hutt. He is his own man with his own agenda. He has something that the humans can use to end the conflict with machines. He’s not giving it up though and sends his goons on Neo and the gang. This leads to what I think is the best fight scene in the movie. I know the “Burly Brawl” is supposed to be, but I think that scene got dumber the longer it went on. I found the fight at the Merovingian’s house to be quite entertaining.

The Matrix Reloaded

I want to touch on a few of the performances. I have to say I simply loved Gloria Foster as the Oracle. I find her to be immensely entertaining. She’s this old lady who has the power to see into the future, often delivers Neo some bad news, but is always offering him candy or cookies, like a grandmother or kind neighbor. Most mystical wise old men (or women in this case) are usually a little odd. Take Morpheus for example. I love Fishburne’s performance as Morpheus, but we don’t need another character like that. Plus, it’s just funny that she’s as powerful as she is and still takes the time to offer you a tasty treat. I also really enjoy Lambert Wilson’s performance as the Merovingian. He is a thorn in the main characters sides, but pretty damn funny while doing it. He’s an asshole, makes no apologies for being one, and relishes in it I also really enjoy the philosophical aspect about the character. If you can get past the digital orgasm without laughing and listen to what he says in this scene, it’s very thought-provoking. I enjoy watching this character and wish there was more of him. He also has an insanely hot wife and I love that she thinks he’s full of shit (watch her reaction to his philosophizing). The dynamic between the two of them reminds me of something you’d seen amongst the Greek Gods. There is a lot of petty fighting, vindictive behavior, and heated sexual tension.

The Matrix Reloaded

Oh yeah and Neo’s buddy Agent Smith is back. Smith (Hugo Weaving) was destroyed in the first movie, but has somehow managed to return. And there is more than one of him too! He’s also no longer an Agent, but rather a program that is “free” of the system. He has his own thoughts and agenda now. Weaving was made to play this role. He owns Smith and his performance strengthens this evolving character. In the first movie he’s an Agent of the system, a software program. He does what he does because he’s programmed to. But watching this “person” who is not used to having freedom evolve into what he is now is fascinating.

After watching this for the first time in years, I realized I liked it a lot more than I used to. I still have problems with it. As I mentioned above, I think the Burly Brawl sucks. It’s just ridiculous. The “party” at Zion was also quite silly. I remember people audibly laughing at it in the theater. I’m also mildly annoyed at how much better the humans fare against some of the programs (people) inside the Matrix. In the first one, Morpheus says every human who has ever faced an agent has died. Hell, he gets his ass kicked by Smith In the original. But in this one he fares a lot better in several different encounters against a few different programs, who are supposed to be upgrades over ones from the first movie. While these are entertaining action sequences, you start to think back to the first movie and finding yourself asking, “Hey, wait a minute…” I also really enjoyed the philosophical aspect of this movie. The first one had these themes and this one expanded on that. What does it mean to be free, who is in control of your life, and a bunch of other stuff I could talk about over a beer for hours. There are things I did not and still do not like about this movie, but the good outweighs the bad, and I’m glad I watched it. I’m really enjoying revisiting this series.

Rating: Thumbs half up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on April 18, 2013.