Sunday, May 19, 2013

Review: "The Matrix Reloaded" a Bold Vision

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 74 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
Running time: 138 minutes (2 hours, 18 minutes)
MPAA – R for sci-fi violence and some sexuality
WRITERS/DIRECTORS: Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski
PRODUCER: Joel Silver
EDITOR: Zach Staenberg


Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Harold Perrineau, Jr., Adrian Rayment, Neil Rayment, Gloria Foster, Roy Jones, Jr., Randall Duk Kim, Monica Bellucci, Nona M. Gaye, Helmut Bakaitis, Sing Ngai, Harry Lennix and Anthony Zerbe

The subject of this movie review is The Matrix Reloaded, a 2003 American and Australian science fiction action film from The Wachowski Brothers. It is the sequel to the Oscar-winning, The Matrix (1999). In the film, Neo and the rebel leaders race to stop an army of Sentinels from destroying the human sanctuary, Zion, while Neo’s dreams suggest that Trinity will suffer a dark fate.

I liked The Matrix Reloaded so much that I’d like to bow down at the feet of Andy and Larry Wachowski, the creators/writers/directors behind this brilliant science fiction/action cum philosophical film. This must be the most thoughtful, inventive, and entertaining science fiction film since 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s amazing what the brothers did when their studios gave them a bigger budget, and when technology gave them the ability to add even greater mind-bending effects than what they had in the first film, The Matrix. Every time George Lucas got more money and improved technology, he only managed to either make a mediocre film or to actually take away from the wonder of the original Star Wars.

Neo (Keanu Reeves) and his compatriots: mentor Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), lover Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and new crew mate Link (Harold Perrineau, Jr.) have 72 hours to save the day before 250,000 sentinel probes that are digging through the earth to reach Zion. Neo is also trouble Trinity of whom he’s been having bad dreams. The heroes must find The Keymaker (Randall Duk Kim) who knows the way to the Mainframe of the Matrix, the place where Neo might be able to save mankind.

At one point while I was watching this film, I could appreciate the creativity and the urge of the filmmakers to push the boundaries of visual effects, but I found The Matrix Reloaded to be a drag. It seemed to lack the freshness and surprise of the original. I was finding The Matrix Reloaded fresh in its throw-everything-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks way. The film seemed to have an awkward rhythm: talk, philosophy, talk, speech, fight, talk, fight, action scene, more talk, etc. This was a story about humans fighting machines, and the entire movie reeked of being artificial, more the result of computer effort than human effort.

I was wrong: human ingenuity and spirit make this film, with the computer as the left hand that helps the human right hand. Suddenly, it all clicked for me, and the film made so much sense. The rest of the way was a breathtaking experience for me. I had to struggle to keep up with the film’s rapid-fire pace. The action is quite intense, and the story is packed with human pathos, intrigue, and mystery. The Wachowski’s really dig into the idea that the Matrix is an artificial intelligence, but an intelligence nonetheless, and it has personalities – multiple personalities with individual agendas.

Great directing, great effects, excellent rhythm, inspired acting – what more do I need to say? This is good. Morpheus is even more mystical and even more frightening. Neo is super cool and super bad, a superman who can unleash his special abilities at the drop of a hat. Trinity is still hot, but she has a purpose; she’s more than just a babe/appendage. She’s the shoulder upon which Neo leans. I was also really surprised by how much the film delves into ideas of and philosophy about freedom, control, and choice.

No kidding, this is great stuff. It does have some weak points. It drags at times before it really gets rolling. Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) is now as much comic relief as he is a cool villain, whereas he was an all-dangerous and lethal adversary in the first film. And the Twins (Adrian and Neil Rayment), with their blond dreadlocks are good, but they ain’t all that.

There have many good sci-fi films, and there have been some very good sci-fi films, including The Matrix. I don’t know how I’ll feel a year later about this sequel, but right now, I think The Matrix Reloaded is one of the truly great sci-fi films, and probably the best action movie ever made. Although The Matrix Reloaded ends in a cliffhanger, it stands on its own, just whetting your appetite for more. There are enough new revelations about the characters and about the Matrix to keep your head spinning until the next chapter.

9 of 10

2004 Black Reel Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Supporting Actress” (Gloria Foster)

2004 Razzie Awards: 1 nomination: “Worst Director” (Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski – also for The Matrix Revolutions-2003)

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