“We can never see past a choice we don’t understand”.
And Morpheus old buddy, there’s no way we can see past a plot point we don’t understand either. In fact, the first of two sequels to the smash film The Matrix is littered with so much gobbledygook, and an abundance of confusing plot subterfuge – that I dare anyone to decode it within one viewing.
“The Matrix Reloaded” – not unlike its predecessor – might be hard to swallow, but it’s so delicious you just can’t help but want more. Not unlike one of those gobstoppers you can find in any candy store – Hard to chew, nice to endure, if you will.
In 1999, the Wachowski brothers re-invented action cinema with a film that pushed the boundaries, not only through storytelling, but through modern-day special effects. When they first approached producer Joel Silver about their idea for the inconceivable yarn, the director brothers said they envisioned a live-action kung-fu romp akin to anime films like “Akira” and “Ghost in the Shell”. And boy did their vision make for stellar entertainment. The Matrix was the story of a zero computer hacker who comes to the comprehension that the world he lives in – the world we live in – is fake and that outside is the real deal. By film’s end, he would ultimately become somewhat of a superhero among his new clique.
Not short of ideas for a sequel, the boy’s return, this time with not one but two sequels, both to be released within months of each other.
“The Matrix Reloaded” picks up where the first film left off with Neo [Keanu Reeves] continuing to explore the world outside of the one we know as ours. Having made the decision to believe in himself and accept his role as “The One”, he’s starting to assume greater command of his powers, but with this new power comes responsibility like fulfilling what Morpheus [Laurence Fishburne] believes to be Neo’s destiny – to end the war with the machines –and also living up to the expectations of those lives who depend on the choices Neo makes.
The Machine Army begins to compress Zion. The Rebels brace themselves. And Neo strives ahead in search of a further quest for the truth. All the while, kicking, punching and skimming his way out of harms way.
A spectacle for the ears and eyes, “The Matrix Reloaded” is the sequel fans of the first one have been craving. The action sequences are bigger and better, the effects are eye-popping, and the story – apart from being mind-boggling – stays one step ahead of its audience at all times. But it’s that story that also deters enjoyment in a couple of spots. There’s a little too much partisan speeches and drawn out mockery and while there’s nothing wrong with exposition scenes, unfortunately some of these moments deter from the action sequences, which are significantly more entertaining than the plot. On first viewing, the plot seems to be all over the place. Large helpings of waffle sprinkled throughout the film. Those who’ve seen the first film a few dozen times might find it a bit easier to understand than those who haven’t – but all in all there’s a little “too much” here. Maybe it makes sense, maybe it doesn’t – that’ll have to be decided upon repeated viewings.
But as an action extravaganza, The Wachowski’s have matched the spectacle of – if not bettered – that of the original. A lengthy battle-scene taking place on a tiring freeway is one of the film’s grand highlights and scenes where Neo is soaring through the skies like the Man of Steel are awe-inspiring (If Warner can re-create something like this for “Superman”, maybe the remake will be worth the wait.)
Some will have a problem with it, some just won’t understand it, but for most, the only disappointment will be the all too annoying “To be Concluded” tag, that’s stamped on the final frame.