The Matrix Reloaded

The Matrix Reloaded

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Things are still pretty complicated down there. Keanu Reeves is Neo the One. "I wish I knew what I am supposed to do," he says. After more than two hours, he isn't much the wiser.

The Wachowski Brothers sci-fi fantasy extravaganza that became known as The Matrix had a look and a style and a coolness that has been talked about ever since. The fight sequences became legendary, with their slo-mo and martial arts wire-flying. The story of Zion, a subterranean civilisation, existing in underground caves, at war with The Machines and an army of alien squids, was gobblede and, if one is honest, gook.

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Neo died and was resurrected. The mysterious agent Mr Smith (Hugo Weaving), who looks like a member of MIB, has learnt to clone himself instantaneously. He's after Neo, but why? Who is he working for? Neo fights a roomful of Mr Smiths and survives. The WOW factor loses its capital letter status when credibility morphs with silliness.

The second in the trilogy is less innovative and more windy in the speechifying department. Neo keeps his trap shut and his girlfriend Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) stays trim for serious motor bike stunts.

"They need you," she says.

"I need you," he says.

"There's time," she says.

He can't sleep, because when he does, he dreams of her falling from the window of an office block and being shot dead by a man diving after her.

Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), the captain of their (space)craft, has become pompous and put on weight. "Some things never change," he says. "And some things do." The dialogue has that effect. It makes no sense, but in an important way.

The Machines are trying to wipe out Zion. Neo seeks an audience with The Oracle (Gloria Foster), who will tell him what he is supposed to do, only doesn't. There is talk of causality and choice and how they don't exist, illusion being everything. Or nothing. They go looking for The Keymaker (Randall Duk Kim), who will open the door to... it doesn't matter, because, by this time, all logic and understanding has entered the realm of Wachowski, where The Prophecy dictates and no-one knows what it is.

Plot aside, the effects have a beauty of their own. Fighting has never been more graceful. There is a danger of repetition, however, as Neo takes on multiple opponents time after time. The chase sequences are better, although the opposition's main men are ghosts, who cannot be shot. No point in shouting "Foul!" The ref's on a sickie.

Somewhere in the tangled wires of this computer game-come-real is the kernel of a saga that sees itself as seminal. The one person who behaves normally, with humour and emotion, is Link (Harold Perrineau Jr), the on-board hacker. Neo does what Link calls "his Superman thing" and would not look out of place in the X-Men house. Trinity wears skin tight leathers and performs gymnastic twirls, capable of an Olympic gold. Morpheus is Capt Picard in another skin.

Reloaded is a love story. The rest can go hang off a building.

Reviewed on: 22 May 2003
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The Matrix Reloaded packshot
Neo must save the underworld city of Zion from destruction by the machines.
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The Matrix Revolutions