Director: Andy and Larry Wachowski
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving
138 mins, Cert 15
In 1999 The Wachowski brothers brought us The Matrix, a film that fought the Star Wars franchise head on. The Matrix was leaner, meaner and more revolutionary than The Phantom Menace and was seen by many as the much cooler movie of the two. Now the brothers follow up their own movie with that difficult sequel. Great sequels are possible just look at Godfather II, Terminator II, Aliens and The Empire Strikes Back. However The Matrix Reloaded is a stinker of a movie that should be avoided at all costs.
The plot, such as it is, runs something like this; the Matrix computer has located the human city of Zion and will destroy it within 24 hours. To prevent this our heroes must locate the man who holds the key to the core of the Matrix so the messianic Neo (Keanu Reeves) can enter the core of the Matrix and stop the destruction of the human race. It’s straightforward enough, right?
It’s as if there is a plot under there but it has been covered by so many pointless fight sequences it’s impossible to tell where the movie is going or what the point is. There are numerous kung fu fights that serve no purpose at all, slow down the plot and are actually boring. The fight choreography features none of the beauty and fluidity that made Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon such an amazing film. They feel stilted and repetitive and because they often get in the way of the plot progressing they actually make the movie less exciting. There’s never any dramatic tension, no real sense anyone can get hurt, the video game is more involving than this movie.
The highway chase sequence is the highlight of The Matrix Reloaded. This is great stuff, with explosions, effects and thrills aplenty. Trinity’s dramatic motorcycle ride against oncoming traffic is stunning. It’s about the only time The Matrix Reloaded feels pacey or interesting. The rest of the time it is pedestrian and wallowing in its own self importance. The change in Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) is interesting, but the character isn’t given enough screen time to explore these issues. Instead we have to suffer more slow dialogue with a false sense of importance and more stilted fight sequences.
The effects are superb. The use of digital actors is not flawless but pretty damn close. When Neo fights 100 Agent Smith’s it’s a visual tour-de-force, if not exactly pertinent to the story. And that scene sums up The Matrix Reloaded. It looks amazing and should be exciting, but it’s overlong and boring. Fans will have you believe that it’s a philosophical masterpiece, but the ideas within – essentially trying to define reality and illusion, have been explored before. For all the focus on the special effects, there’s little new here.
It’s a shame that there is so much slow motion in The Matrix Reloaded, because at normal speed this dull and ponderous film would have been over a lot sooner. It’s better than Star Trek: Nemesis, but there are few experiences in life that aren’t. Go see X-Men 2 instead.