The Matrix was a big hit in 1999, and because of how much of a following it got — not to mention the money that it made — it got two sequels shot back-to-back. The first is The Matrix Reloaded, an unnecessary, yet still highly entertaining sequel that expands the universe and does pretty much everything that it needs to in order to follow up its predecessor, even if it isn’t quite as entertaining or thought-provoking.
We open up with a dream in which Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) is shot while fighting with an agent. Neo (Keanu Reeves), our protagonist from the first film who is in love with her, wakes up in a cold sweat. Did he just see the future? Why would he dream of her death? You’ll get these questions answered. The captain of the ship, Morpheus (Laurence Fishbourne) is told that some machines are tunneling toward the human centre called Zion, and if they reach it, humankind as we know it could be completely wiped out.
Inside the Matrix (a sort of virtual reality for those of you who don’t know or can’t remember), things are pretty crazy as well. Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), who I believe to be the most interesting character in the series, has managed to be reborn and is no longer an actual agent. He can also duplicate himself by sticking his hand inside of a human being, which is both creepy but also allows for some odd situations involving multiple Smiths. The main plot of the film involves rescuing a man/program called the Keymaker (Randall Duk Kim) and finding out how to stop the machines from attacking Zion.
Along the way, there are a bunch of fight scenes. If you’ve seen The Matrix, you know how action-packed it was, while still managing to get in a bunch of philosophy and interesting technologies. The fight scenes are longer this time, and there might even be more of them. This isn’t a problem on paper, but they also get somewhat repetitive, and the length becomes a problem when they begin to get boring.
There are at least two action scenes that go on for way too long and are too repetitive to be completely engaging. The first involves Neo fighting dozens of Smiths. This could have been cut by maybe five minutes, and it would have helped the pacing out. The second is a long car chase involving multiple parties and it lasts around 20 minutes. It’s about 10 minutes too long in my eyes, and once again, the pacing could have been improved had it been cut.
There’s one scene that should have been cut entirely, serves very little purpose, and doesn’t fit with the mood of the rest of the film. It involves a massive rave that leads into a sex scene between Neo and Trinity. It felt like it was included just to pad the runtime, and it had no real reason to be included. That’s the main theme of the entire film: Padding in order to fit a one-movie story into two films.
Like the first Matrix, the special effects are still top-notch. Apart from the aforementioned Smith vs. Neo fight scene, the effects are integrated organically and don’t stand out unless you’re specifically looking for them. If you aren’t, and I see no reason for you to try that, you will be in awe at what was done, all the while believing that it could happen thanks to the world that has been created for you.
From what has been shown to us in the first two Matrix films, this is an interesting place that is being lived in by the humans. This is expanded upon in this movie, and if you enjoyed learning about the Matrix in the first film, you’ll enjoy it even more this time around. You’ll get to understand why Neo has these powers, you’ll meet the person who created the Matrix, and you’ll have a pretty good time doing these things.
However, if you’re expecting to get deeper characters, you’ll be disappointed. All of the character development was done in the first Matrix, and while the characters are already fairly well-developed, they stagnate in this one. The depth is there, but they’re the same people we saw before, and since there isn’t any change in regard to their character, it’s difficult to care about them. And since the enemy in this film isn’t really seen all that often, instead, we just get a bunch of meaningless fight scenes, it’s hard to remain anything but indifferent to everything happening.
The main topic to come out of this film is choice, and what it means to really make one. Is our future predetermined, have all of our choices already been made? You know, things like that. Is a clear-cut answer given? Not really, although maybe the third film in the trilogy will answer this for us. Or maybe it’ll be better to just leave the question wide open and let the audience think about it after the film ends.
The Matrix Reloaded is a fun science fiction action film, although it’s not as good as its predecessor. Some of the action goes on for too long, and having a better editor to cut out around 30 minutes of total footage would have been incredibly beneficial. It still has a lot of fun action and special effects though, and if that’s all you want, you won’t be disappointed. The choice is yours, although this film might want you to believe you’ve already made that choice. Think about it.