The Matrix Reloaded

Directed By: Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Harold Perrineau, Randall Duk Kim, and Jada Pinkett Smith

After the massive success of The Matrix, the Wachowskis certainly had the unenviable task of writing the next chapter of this storied sci-fi franchise.  It took them four years, but they came out with The Matrix Reloaded in 2003 (followed by The Matrix Revolutions later that same year).  Like the original, the Wachowskis are once again trying to layer this sequel with a deeper meaning and commentary about a larger theme.  If The Matrix is all about control, then Reloaded is all about causality and purpose.

After the events of The Matrix, things began to change for the better.  In the past six months, more minds have been freed from the matrix than in the prior six years.  Neo (Keanu Reeves) has fully realized his abilities within the matrix, but larger questions loom.  He does not know the reason for which he was given these abilities or his purpose.  What he does know is that he needs to find the Oracle (Gloria Foster) because she's the only one who can point him in the right direction.  As of late, he's also been dreaming of Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) dying in a shootout with agents.

Meanwhile, the machines are digging in an effort to large a massive assault on Zion, the last human city.  Commander Lock (Harry Lennix) has ordered all ships to return to the city to prepare for battle.  Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and a few other captains with a proclivity for disobeying orders disagree.  They believe that victory depends on more than how many ships are on the battlefield.  It depends on Neo and what he can do to save them.  Given this, one ship remains connected to the matrix against Lock's orders in the hope that the Oracle makes contact and provides Neo further direction in what he must do to save Zion and all of mankind.

The Matrix Reloaded is a great follow-up to the Wachowskis' fabled original film.  Now that Neo has fully realized his powers within the matrix, he can do his "Superman thing" and beat the holy hell out of anyone who comes his way.  The storyline continues to progress in a natural way as Neo just tries to figure out what he's supposed to do and his arch-nemesis is re-established.  Finally, the film addresses larger themes such as causality and purpose.  Reloaded is all about Neo understanding the reason for which he has his unique abilities and his purpose as the One.

The Matrix Reloaded is one of the most ambitious action films of its time.  You'll get plenty of ass-kicking, lots of mind-bending slow motion, and some mostly decent special effects.  The fight choreography is incredible, especially the showdown over the Key-Maker (Randall Duk Kim) as well as the clash between Neo and Seraph.  While the choreography is impressive, the special effects aren't so great.  At times, the film looks more like a videogame than a live action film.  Just check out the big fight between Neo and fifty million Smiths (Hugo Weaving) or the big explosion on the freeway.  Those scenes just don't look real, and I have to call the Wachowskis out on it.

The plot developments in this installment of the sci-fi franchise really progress naturally from The Matrix.  One development in particular is pretty ironic given the first film.  This concept of multiple Smiths is fitting for so many reasons.  Throughout the original, Hugo Weaving's Agent Smith describes mankind as a virus plaguing the planet.  With this new storyline involving the ex-agent multiplying himself throughout the matrix, Smith has really become the virus.  He's the corrupt program propagating himself throughout the system like wildfire.  He's the uncontrollable force plaguing the system that needs to be tamed.  In this sense, the Wachowskis couldn't have developed a more perfect storyline around his character.

While The Matrix is all about control, Reloaded is all about destiny.  As the Wachowskis fill the film with dialogue explaining the nature of cause and effect and as Neo searches for his purpose, it becomes more and more evident that the discourse throughout the film on causality and purpose is about something much more.  It's about fate.   It's about realizing that the choices you think you're making now were actually made long ago.  To see past these choices and to see your purpose and destiny in life, you simply need to understand why you made them.  Understanding the why is the real source of vision and power, and the Wachowskis make this clear throughout the film.  It’s a really bold concept.

The Matrix Reloaded is an awesome follow-up to the original Matrix.  While there are a few mistakes made in terms of the special effects, Reloaded stands as a fitting successor to the first movie.  It's action-packed, well written, and once again intellectually stimulating.   The Matrix Reloaded gets a strong 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.