Having previously stepped into The Matrix, I was delighted that the Sci-Fi Chronicles would give me a chance to revisit the two sequels from 2003. Once again written by the Wachowski’s the first sequel, The Matrix Reloaded, was set 6 months after the events of the first film, and Neo (Keanu Reeves) is settling nicely into his role of Chosen One, and the savior of the last bastion of humanity, Zion, an underground base, where free humans strike back at the machines for control of the planet, but now, the machines know where they are, and an attack is imminent, and only Neo, Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and those willing to fight stand in their way.
My favorite part of the film is Monica Bellucci. Always.
But the rest of the film remains pretty solid, though not all of the effects and computer work has aged as well as one would like. Having said that, it’s cool to come back to this one, and realize it really is a solid action film, though it’s angsty dime-store philosophy can seem a little trite at a times. The whole sequence with The Architect (Helmut Bakaitis) feels over-inflated and self-indulgent… shoe-horning discussions of life better left for having over a pint into the middle of the film, almost causing it to grind to a stop.
But maybe it’s there to catch your breath before Neo dives into another fight with his nemesis, the now rogue, and incredibly enhanced program, Smith (Hugo Weaving – so bad ass in these films!) or discussions and violence with the power-hungry Merovingian (Lambert Wilson) with his paranormal-inspired bodyguards, and the lovely Persephone (Bellucci) at his side.
Add to this is the nightmares that Neo is having about Trinity’s death, and the fact that he may not be able to do anything about it.
There are a couple of standout sequences (that don’t have Bellucci sadly (did I mention she’s my favorite part?)) the burly brawl, featuring the fight between Neo, and an almost countless number of Agent Smiths, and the highway chase/fight sequence.
This film is bigger and bolder than the first film, which seems almost small and intimate by comparison. This one expands the world, reveals the stakes in a better way, and also introduces a wider cast of characters, each with their own role to play in the preservation or destruction of Zion.
Reloaded races to a cliffhanger climax as Neo is left incapacitated after somehow being able to activate some kind of mental Bluetooth or wifi in his head allowing him to interact with the machines, and as we learn in the next film, the matrix itself, without jacking in, while Agent Smith, is able to download himself into the real world, where he plans to take care of Neo once and for all.
Except for the huge pause to talk with the Architect, most of this film still engages and entertains, though some of the dialogue is more than a little cheesy (‘You do not truly know someone until you fight them…’ – ugh). The combination of the wire work, kung-fu and action beats still makes this one a really enjoyable film, but may have gotten a little lost over the years because we became so super-saturated with it, and its philosophy.
Though the concept of being plugged into a computer certainly would explain a lot about some moments in our lives…