The Matrix: Reloaded
Starring:
Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Jada Pinkett Smith
Directed By:
Andy Wachowski, Larry Wachowski
Grade
B+

Picking up some months after where the original movie left off, Matrix Reloaded is the first part of two sequels to the highly successful The Matrix, in which computer hacker Neo discovers the world around him is a simulation in which the human race is trapped. In the real world, people are harvested as batteries for the machines, which have taking over the earth. Inside the matrix, Neo discovers that he is "the One", a super-powered messiah that has the ability to warp the laws governing the matrix to his will. In The Matrix: Reloaded, events unravel as Neo is directed to find the Keymaker, who will give him access to the Source. In the real world, it is revealed that the machines are digging their way toward Zion and the human forces gather to try and devise a way to defeat them. The main underlying theme behind the story is a conflict between the ability to make choices and the ideal that all events and choices are already predetermined.

As with the original movie, the sequel packs in tons of amazing fighting sequences, spectacular effects and lots of cool style to make an obvious statement that helps set the tone. There are a number of action scenes that one-up the effects used from the first film. Throw in some exceptional set-work and topnotch choreography of the stunts and Reloaded turns out to be one finely crafted action ride. In fact, there are specifically three or four sequences that are so amazingly well done that you're sure to talk about them after the movie is through.

Unlike the first film, a lot more time is given to the real world, especially with a lengthy visit to Zion, the stone and steel underground city of human refugees. With a larger focus on Zion, you get more of a sense of community and how things work in this post-apocalyptic world. But, the divulgence of how things work is not just for the humans alone. In conversations with characters in the matrix, Neo and company discover the nature of the matrix and gain explanations on how certain things work.

Reloaded benefits from a really great cast that works well within the confines of the story being told. Keanu Reeves, much maligned as an actor, is perfect in his role as Neo. In fact, the role seems to be tailored for him, as it gives him enough time to develop the somber character while allowing him plenty of action time throughout the rest of the film. Fishburne's Morpheus is less of an icon in Reloaded, as you see more of his human character in his constant belief that the war is soon to be over. Moss' Trinity and her relationship with Neo gets a good bit of development in the film and goes a long way toward giving emphasis to the resolution of the story. Hugo Weaving as Agent Smith is still the best nemesis this film has got going for it. The twins and Merovingian don't really seem quite as impressive or even remotely as developed as the rogue agent who still refers to Neo by his former name in such a chilling manner.

I would have to commend the Wachowskis a lot of credit for taking the original concept of The Matrix and pushing it even further. They've gone and taken a world that many have grown to understand and pushed the boundaries even further, throwing in a few solid curve balls for good measure. Ultimately, though, the movie suffers from some excess. Fight sequences tend to last a little longer than what feels necessary and you'll have to sit through some lengthy exposition as new elements to the story are spewed out like Shakespearean monologues. Even the rave in Zion and love sequence between Neo and Trinity seems to last way too long for their own good.

Reloaded is, first and foremost, a sequel that relies on having seen the first movie to really get what's going on from the start. It also becomes apparent that the movie is merely part of a 5 hour movie that was cut in half so it could be better digested. If you can look past the excessive dialogue intended to explain the what is happening within the matrix, you'll find an excellently crafted action movie that serves as a nice follow up to the original. While it lacks the mystique that the first film managed to create, it does work in bridging the gap between the first film and the upcoming finale.

- - Kinderfeld

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