- Written and Directed by the Wachowskis
- May 7, 2003 (Mann Village Theatre) / May 15, 2003
Neo, Trinity and Morpheus continue to fight against the Machine Army as the Machines unleash a devastating plan against the human settlement of Zion.
The big debate in The Matrix Reloaded is of destiny and choice and whether or not either exists. Not too often do blockbuster science-fiction films get philosophical but with The Matrix films, well, that’s part of what makes ithem special. The characters during the course of this film do a great job of debating fate versus choice and destiny and so forth.
They also touch on our dependence on machines to live. The very thing humans need to break free from in this fictional universe is also the thing that makes life possible. Neo (Keanu Reeves) is made keenly aware of this in a scene early in the film with Councillor Hamann (Anthony Zerbe), one of the leaders of Zion, as they discuss how their survival is dependent upon the machines that make Zion habitable deep in the Earth.
The story starts off with a heavy tone and never lets up. From the opening moments you get the feeling things are worse than they were in the first film. And you would be right. We learn in short order the machines are mounting an assault on Zion with a giant drill machine and will reach the last bastion of human civilization within a short period.
The film’s tension then begins to rely on the ticking clock plot device. It is a race to get answers and to stop the drill before it is too late. Keeping the amount of events believable in a ticking clock plot can be difficult. Too little time and too much happening before the resolution weakens the ending. Too little and you do not feel like there was a need to rush. The Wachowskis managed to strike a proper balance between all the elements to make the events feel properly important.
In short order we also learned that Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) has somehow survived his destructive encounter with Neo from the first film and is much different because of it. Gifted with new abilities he is populating the world of The Matrix with copies of himself. He has grand designs and the ability to achieve them now.
There are several elements here of The Animatrix either alluded to in dialogue or presented in this film but unlike extraneous material today you don’t need to have seen The Animatrix to understand what is going on in order to fully enjoy the film. When this movie first came out I do not think I had seen The Animatrix yet but regardless when used they do not impact the narrative if you do not know where it came from. For the ignorant it will seem as if the characters are simply making remarks about offscreen events.
Sequels, for good or bad, often try to change the game. I understand the need to give the audiences something new rather than a pale copy of the first film. I think The Matrix Reloaded managed to effectively to that while avoiding the mistake of feeling as if the new information did not fit with anything that came before.
Where the movie truly failed was in the use of special effects. I remember back then being taken out of the story at points because some of the stuff they did was clearly a special effect and did not blend well with the live action. Specifically the first time Neo encounters the multiple Smiths. There are a couple of points where it’s obvious what they wanted to do could not be done in real life so they decided to use CGI and that CGI at that time was not up to the job. It could probably be done today though more realistically but none the less it would still stand out.
There are plenty of events that occur that leave you asking what does this mean for everything? The game is changing and they do good work of setting up a final confrontation of some type. Neo and Smith are being driven to a winner take all confrontation. They are not going to fight just because but rather it will be because events compel them.
For obvious reasons The Matrix Reloaded ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. Normally I hate that but it was guaranteed whether or not The Matrix Reloaded succeeded we would be getting another film. It was already in the can and being finished up when this came out.
Is The Matrix Reloaded as good as the original? No. The first one was something new and different and it’s tough to follow something like that up but they do a good job of crafting a great story with interesting characters as well as deep themes and great action.
The Matrix Reloaded is a great sequel that expands upon and continues the story of The Matrix. This is a great bit of science fiction action with heavy philosophy tossed in. This is a must see!