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Movies: Matrix Reloaded

Matrix Reloaded is so-so. As "middle chapters" go it's sure no Empire Strikes Back, and it ain't no Two Towers either. And that's understandable, I guess. But what's really disappointing is that, when you get right down to it, Reloaded isn't even on par with The Matrix itself.

What The Matrix did so well was to reveal just enough of its secrets to be interesting, but not so much as to give everything away. It's clear, for example, that Keanu Reeves can act about as well as I can kickbox, but they disguised this by giving him almost no dialog whatsoever. Furthermore, the philosophical mumbo-jumbo that permeates the script doesn't hold up to any intellectual scrutiny, but every time you thought "hey wait a minute, that doesn't make any ..." they would cut to an action scene and leave you admiring the gunplay. And then, just when it dawned on you that the fight scene doesn't make any sense either, they switched back to the Buddhist hoohaw.

Matrix Reloaded, unfortunately, blithely exposes what The Matrix so craftily concealed. Reeves is given entirely too much to say. The philosophical monologues go on well past the point where your bullshit detector has kicked into overdrive. The fight scenes go on and on and on until you become so bored that you start thinking about the them (never a good thing), and you realize that there is no logical reason for the combat to be occurring in the first place.

Worst of all, Reloaded cavalierly reveals the biggest secret of all, the thing that the Wachowski Brothers worked so hard to obscure in the script to the first movie. It's the answer to question at the very heart of the series. It's the question that drives us. It's the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did: "What is the Matrix?"

What is the Matrix? Ladies and Gentlemen, the Matrix is Tron.

This didn't even occur to me in the first movie, but here it is painfully obvious. Characters walk around describing themselves as "programs" that fear "deletion." Agent Smith might as well be named Agent Sark. Neo seeks out the heart of the computer world in an attempt to take down the Master Control Program (or whatever it's called here). And the CEO of ENCOM shows up under the pseudonym "The Architect". It got to the point where I kept expecting a "bit" to show up.

Okay, so I'm joking around a little bit, here, but surely you see my point. The Matrix seemed startlingly original at the time, but much of that was smoke and mirrors: the "life in a computer" thing had been done (Tron), the "war between machines and man" thing had been done (Terminator), the "wire-fu" had been done (Iron Monkey), the whole "he's The One" thing had been done before (Bible, New Testament), and so on. But a tight script and crafty direction kept things moving at such a fast pace that you never really caught wise to this fact. Reloaded, unfortunately, lacks such subtly. In fact, everything about this movie seems half-again too much: the fight scenes are half again too long, the speeches are half again too lengthy ... indeed, the whole movie could have been trimmed by a third.

This excess not only makes for a movie that's slightly dull, but also a chapter in the Matrix Trilogy that feels like a stall for time. Despite all the sound and fury in Reloaded, not a whole lot has really happened by the time the end credits roll (and much of what does happen takes place in the last 30 minutes). Like the kind of video game this movie emulates, much of the story revolves around the characters receiving and completing self-contained Quests ("Now you must locate ... The Keymaker!") which don't really get them any closer to their objective. Matrix Reloaded fulfills its primary duty (i.e., gets us from part 1 to part 3) but doesn't do a whole lot else.

By the way, The Queen wins Quote Of The Week with this comment about the Zion scene: "Apparently life in the future is going to be one endless rave. No wonder the machines want us dead."

End Of Line.

The comments of this review are not spoiler-free, so caveat emptor.

Posted on June 11, 2003 to Movies


I agree completely.

Posted by: ama on June 11, 2003 6:17 PM


Read this.

Posted by: HiFire on June 11, 2003 8:48 PM

I agree with your review. Matrix Reloaded left me yawning a bit. There's some good analysis in the above link which made me think a bit more about the philosophy but the movie itself could have raised those same questions in a tighter, faster paced way. I also noticed the length of some of the combat segments and how they drew a few unintentional laughs due to how ridiculously over-the-top everything was getting.

Posted by: Mike on June 11, 2003 9:33 PM

you might think you know what the matrix is, but i've got the inside track on the third episode. they're getting away from tron/terminator and leaning more towards alice in wonderland for the final clinch. there is no matrix. just one big acid trip. and you thought you had it all figured out...

Posted by: clark on June 11, 2003 9:40 PM

Reloaded was such a bore. The fight scenes were nicely choreographed...but really, who gave a rip? Neo is so invincible now that none of his fight scenes had any urgency. What's the point of a fight if no one has any chance of getting hurt? The best fights were the ones with the vulnerable characters...like the freeway chase scene. But I just watched the Animatrix and loved it. So give that a look if you haven't already.

Posted by: suzanne on June 11, 2003 11:07 PM

I came out of the movie thinking, You know what these people could really use? Hands-free cell phones!

Posted by: donut on June 12, 2003 6:07 AM

I watched Reloaded twice... the first time was great, the second time I wanted to gouge my eyes out in the plot scenes... The Animatrix, on the other hand, I could watch a million times. :)

Posted by: Ryan Waddell on June 12, 2003 6:38 AM

Thanks for saving me two hours that I will never get back.

Posted by: Laurie on June 12, 2003 8:01 AM

After Neo's fight with the four thousand Agent Smiths, all I wondered was "If he could fly away anytime he wanted, why did they fight at all?"

Sadly, nothing in the rest of the movie distracted me from continuing to wonder about this.

Posted by: Stacey on June 12, 2003 8:24 AM

I liked it.

Posted by: Chris on June 12, 2003 9:44 AM

Possible Spoilers below.

I'm reserving my opinion until the final chapter...and the reason is simple...I needed the second movie to give me enough answers from the first, and more questions for the final...because the last film told us what The Matrix was...so I knew what to expect going into Reloaded.

I liked that it told me what the Oracle was, but made me wonder is the Oracle really friend or foe?

Also...at the end when Neo is able to feel the machines and stops them...my first thought was...is this future of man just a Matrix within another Matrix? In the first film Agent Smith tells us that we needed a bunch of crap and shit in our lives to keep us happy. So...is the future world just another load of shit to keep the restless ones entertained? Are we fighting programs in The Matrix...and outside fighting a much better Matrix? Are the machines also "virtual?"

If the machines have destroyed us before...six times or whatever, how come we never found any "actual" evidence from that. Don't you think there would be shit loads of hovercraft and other gear lying about?

For all the talk of religious undertones and themes...and is Neo really The One, what if his new found "God Like" abilities are just more of his ability to manipulate another "Matrix?"

So for me, I've got more questions going thought my mind that bug me from time to time...which is more powerful than whether or not the film held up to the first...that is all I expected...and when I look back...I've got plenty of questions to keep me busy for the next few months.

Posted by: agraham on June 12, 2003 9:50 AM

BTW...The Empress (wife), hated it...she won't go to another one of my movies.

Posted by: agraham on June 12, 2003 9:51 AM

You forgot to mention the SCIENCE behind the Matrix was BS too...those human batteries, feed the remains of other humans, are a diminishing resource...you need food to power those batteries which means growing plants.

If the computers have the means to grow plants it's either the sun or artifical light powered other than by the humans...it would be more efficient to just use direct solar or whatever powers the lights than the stupid human batteries (plus, they could shut off the power to the Matrix itself).

Posted by: Herb on June 12, 2003 10:05 AM

also, the credits were at least half-again too long, weren't they? they took like...20 minutes or something. at least if /felt/ that way. and what was with the overly-obvious cg-ing of neo and the smiths in that fight scene? *pthbbt*.

Posted by: discourageo on June 12, 2003 11:24 AM

i've still not seen the matrix, let alone reloaded...

*runs back to cave*

Posted by: Professeur Fou on June 12, 2003 11:28 AM

Buddhist hoohaw?

Posted by: Zorg on June 12, 2003 12:25 PM

i read that the reason Keanu is used is that he can't speak properly so he slurs all his words like a surfer whereas Morpheus is the exact opposite. This is because Neo is the anomaly and is made up of all the flaws in the system, and hence is a bit thick (perfect casting don't ya think?).

Posted by: Paul on June 12, 2003 12:43 PM

The only reason that they cast Keanu Reeves was they needed someone with that "What the hell is happening to me?" look and that dumbfounded look is his trademark.

I expect the end of the 3rd movie to be like Bob Newhart Show and Dallas - with NEO taking off a virtual reality helmet and saying "Whoa death and Ted, what a rad game". Death of course replies, "best 2 out of 3 Bill?"

Posted by: Brian on June 12, 2003 12:45 PM

i really wanted to like this movie alot, but it's so hard. the philosophy was making me think a bit, and then they'd put in a fight scene that didn't seem necessary, and since i was still thinking, my brain was like 'heyyyy..thats not right'

but all in all, reloaded gave me what i wanted from it. some cool fights, some cool effects, and keanu's sweet sweet ass. o yea, and a frenchman, he was cool.

Posted by: cat on June 12, 2003 2:45 PM

Warning, spoilers for this movie and potential spoilers for the next movie.

Well, I may be in the minority (at least in this forum) but I liked the movie, a lot. (I saw it twice within a week.)

My only real complaint was that some of the fight scenes were kind of pointless. As previously stated by others, if Neo could fly away at any time why didn't he? If he was staying to "win the fight" then he should've been doing killing blows to whomever. As it was, he seemed to be fighting for the sake of fighting (and now that I think of it maybe he was).

One defense to this is that "The Matrix" was essentially a comic book turned into a movie. Open nearly any comic book and there is tons of gratuitous and pointless violence. So this movie follows that format. Fine by me. Plus, it looked great, so I got over it.

As for the buddhist hoohaw, it may not have made complete sense, but then did you really expect it to? Further, it doesn't need to make sense because the "real world" is just another Matrix. The computer just needs to spout enough crap to keep the "freed" people happy and fighting and not thinking.

You can dump into this the fact that the science makes no sense. It also doesn't need to. The ultimate controller of the matrix made up some crap and the people have bought into it. Thus, they are able to continue on to whatever end they are striving for.

When the third movie comes out, hopefully the final explanation will be sufficient and we'll all go, "ah, I see". I fully do not expect the ultimate "real world" to be anything like the one they think is the "real world". Further, given the discussion between Neo and the councelman guy about 'man needing machines' and 'machines needing man', I wouldn't be surprised to find that the real world contains both men and machines perpetuating the matrix (and not necessarily for energy reasons).

I will be less thrilled (and very disappointed) if the third movie ends with the realization that "real world" is just another Matrix and/or that they are just stuck in a spiralling loop of Matrixes and we never get to see "reality".

As for it just being "Tron" because there are computer programs running around as people. Why was that a bad thing? If the Matrix is running a virtual reality of the scope described, you would expect it to have sub-routines and sub-programs that were there to error correct and moniter. Why shouldn't these come in the form of humans? What better way is there? Granted they could be "invisible" but perhaps their are logistical reasons this wasn't practicle. Who knows. This bothers me not.

For those of you who wish to hear them, here are a few reasons why I know that the "real world" is just another Matrix:

- Neo's ability to stop the machines from attacking

- Agent Smith's ability to jump into the head of the guy in the "real world" when he left the Matrix

- Again, the conversation between the councilman and Neo about machines and people.

- "What is the Matrix?"

- The architects line of BS. If anything, it screams "I am covering something up!" He starts out with his whole there are two possibilities line. I forget the direct quote and the two possibilities he listed, but as soon as he said them, my response was, "and the third possibility is that I'm completely full of it."

- There are a few more, but I'm having trouble remembering them at the moment.

Another problem I have with people's criticism of this movie is the whole, "where's the magic" line and that the first movie was full of mystery and we didn't "see the wires" (metaphorically speaking). Did you honestly think that would continue?

The nature of a first movie is that everything is fresh and new. The first movie was magical because we didn't know anything. We were just stunned and amazed right from the start because Trinity was bad ass and could do stuff she shouldn't be able to do.

The nature of a second movie is that we start to see behind the curtain. There is still magic, but we've already seen the trick. Now the writer shows us a bit of what's going on behind scenes.

I fully expected to go to this movie and be disappointed and let down. It was a middle movie in a trilogy. I expected a LOT of explanation and set up for the third movie. Somewhere in there I would get a little excitment and fighting. I congratulate the Wachowski brothers on making a movie stuffed to the gills with excitment and fighting and still finding time to explain things (even if those explanations later turn out to just be more smoke and mirrors). They even managed to throw in a few more new tricks and elicit a few 'oohs' and 'aahs'.

Hopefully the third movie will manage to reveal all and at the same time show us that we were saps all along. We sat and watched what the director/writer wanted us to watch, while we should've been watching his other hand.


Posted by: 5cott on June 12, 2003 2:49 PM

you know, that kind of video-game plotting is exactly what bugged me about "spirited away." i mean, the girl has to visit the furnace-man and ask for a job, with no apparent explanation. or has to pull all of the garbage out of the river spirit. or has to take the seal to the witch's twin sister. why? i don't know.

Posted by: dave on June 12, 2003 3:04 PM

Spoilers ahead...

Don't get me wrong, I'm probably just as annoyed as you when apologists make up B.S. explanations for errors in their favorite films. But I keep hearing two complaints about this film that I think are unfounded for reasons contained within the film, so I don't think I'm "making up" these rationales:

First, people complain that the "burly brawl" is unnecessary because Neo can fly away at any time. I read this complaint again and again. Isn't it clear from the several times Neo takes off during the film that he has to "warp" the Matrix around him to escape gravity? This effect takes several seconds. Neo needed to create an opening in the brawl to get away; indeed, we see him quickly look around to make sure he's clear before he finally takes off. Am I the only person that noticed? This misunderstanding could have been easily corrected with a mid-battle shot of Neo starting to take off, only to be tackled by a Smith to let the fight continue.

The other complaint, which makes even less sense, is that the agents are weaker this time; everyone beats them up. Excuse me? Trinity got killed both times. Morpheus was about to be killed, and survived only by Niobe's intervention. In fact, the only reason Morpheus won that battle is because he got in a surprise attack on the distracted agent. The only one I see having an easy time whooping agents is Neo, and that's to be expected.

I normally don't go on like this on other peoples' sites, but it really gets me when people find plainly erroneous reasons to dislike a film that I really appreciated. Go ahead and complain about the endless exposition and the video-game plotting, though; I halfway agree with you. :-)

Posted by: Scott Hardie on June 12, 2003 4:08 PM

thanks for the long useless 'but i thought the matrix was good' posts. that movie sucked ass. if you liked it you probably didn't get 'the emperor's new clothes'. please.

Posted by: johnny ransome on June 12, 2003 5:18 PM

I don't know if anyone has mentioned it, but if you sit through the nearly endless credits you'll be rewarded with a pretty cool trailer for matrix 3. The thing that irritated me most about Reloaded was Neo doing the Superman thing. Flying over the cities. One arm out, opposite leg cocked. Turning back time to rescue his loved one. Didn't Christopher Reeve do that like 25 years ago?

Posted by: mcduck on June 12, 2003 5:33 PM

As with the most popular opinions here, I agree. It pretty much sucked. I loved the Matrix, until the last three seconds when we discover Neo can fly. Right there things just didn't bode well for reloaded.

I have a few personal gripes with the film.
First, I could have sworn that they pulled out all those little black plugs, except for the one to the brain, in the first movie.
Second, movie one showed the "we are on a dying planet and these are the only clothes left" type of fashion and Reloaded had the Zionist people dressing like they just landed from star wars.
Third, the computer graphics that were supposed to look "so real"? I'm thinking not.

All in all, if the third is more of the same drivel, I'll have to go see it just to make fun of it loudly in the theater.

PS. I like where hornbell says its going. . . that would piss off a lot of people :)

Posted by: Meghan on June 12, 2003 7:49 PM

BTW...what the heck was up with that WAY TOO LONG rave scene in Zion. Ok, I get it...they're celebrating life. But did we really need 10 minutes of it?

Posted by: suzanne on June 12, 2003 9:19 PM

word on the street is, keanu's going to be playing john constantine in the upcoming hellblazer movie. from the sound of it, this movie's working up to be a piece of crap that'll be only loosely based on the original story. (shaking head) i only pray keanu won't try to fake a british accent.

Posted by: amy on June 13, 2003 8:10 AM

A friend of mine drew a nice analogy explaining the reason behind the "pointless fight" between Neo and Agent Smith. Here it goes, people: have you ever tried to get rid of a virus on your PC by manually deleting certain files, registry keys, system.ini entries etc. only to find out a couple of hours later that clean reinstallation of Windows is actually the best way out?

So, if that fight was the only thing that bothered you in Reloaded, rejoice!

Posted by: Muhr on June 13, 2003 9:27 AM

"I only pray Keanu won't try to fake a British accent"

See him in "Much Ado About Nothing".

Posted by: albert on June 13, 2003 11:23 AM

If it is a matrix within a matrix, then to my mind it's been done a lot better in Cronenberg's Existenz. The best "illusion within an illusion" film has to be Total Recall, even to the point of pointing to the escapism of Hollywood films.

Posted by: Simstim on June 13, 2003 1:04 PM

eXistenZ is awesome, and I hope The Matrix doesn't end up trying to copy its structure. But for another surprisingly good VR movie, check out Virtual Nightmare:


I only saw it during a VR day on SciFi, just after eXistenZ, and the double-whammy skewed my perception for the rest of the day.

Posted by: Monthenor on June 13, 2003 2:52 PM

I have an explanation for the the "WAY TOO LONG rave scene" in Zion. See, that was intercut with the Neo and Trinity getting-it-on scene. Neo's the One, right? Well the love scene HAS to last ten minutes cause you can't have "The One" be a premature ejaculator.

Insert "Superman is faster than a speeding bullet" joke here.

Posted by: Pickle on June 13, 2003 7:12 PM

About the" getting-it-on" scene... if you really pay attention, you'll realize that things never really did finish for Neo that time. And later in the movie, agent Smith points out loudly and clearly that Neo "isn't using the only muscle that really matters" or something like that. I think we may well assume that The Matrix is actually a movie about a man trying to cope with his inability to keep an erection...

Posted by: Victor on June 16, 2003 1:49 PM

Guess he should have taken the blue pill.

Posted by: LoraT on June 16, 2003 2:47 PM

this website is stupid

Posted by: logic on June 25, 2003 5:58 AM

this website is stupid

Posted by: logic on June 25, 2003 5:58 AM

this website is stupid

Posted by: logic on June 25, 2003 5:58 AM

this website is stupid

Posted by: logic on June 25, 2003 5:58 AM

Watch the multiple Agent Smith scene, but put the music as "I Gotcha" from the musical Fosse. It's kind of funny.

Posted by: Acebaka on July 16, 2003 9:20 PM

I found this weblog interesting to read, now that the third Matrix movie has been released.

And I have a few (belated) comments:

Reading the posting by 5cott on June 12, 2003 02:49 PM, I have to say I'm really impressed with the eschatological role given to the 3rd movie in this explanation. This person really had FAITH that the 3rd movie will explain all, make sense of everything, justify all the time we spent watching the 2nd movie. Yes, all our hopes will be fulfilled by the 3rd movie! All our suffering will be shown to be worthwile, to make sense, to be necessary! God has- I mean: the Wachowski brothers have a plan for us all. If we just put our faith in them, we will be rewarded. It will all happen as foretold in Revelation- I mean: Revolutions. Just you wait and see; the 2nd- I mean: 3rd coming is immanent!

(I sure hope Scott wasn't too disappointed by the 3rd movie.)

Also, reading the explanation for why Neo doesn't fly away by posted by Scott Hardie on June 12, 2003 04:08 PM: "Neo needed to create an opening in the brawl to get away; indeed, we see him quickly look around to make sure he's clear before he finally takes off. Am I the only person that noticed? This misunderstanding could have been easily corrected with a mid-battle shot of Neo starting to take off, only to be tackled by a Smith to let the fight continue."

Wow, that really would have made the fight scene so much better! He's so right - something like that would have easily corrected the scene and given it the element of tension and suspense that I felt was lacking. I wish the Wachowskis had done that. Too bad they didn't. Too bad it looks like Neo might just be realizing after 10 minutes of fighting that there's no point to continuing this scene. (He's a little slower than the audience, but he does eventually figure things out.)

Posted by: Mr.Dave on December 6, 2003 1:27 PM