Posted: 05/15/2003

 

The Matrix Reloaded

(2003)

by Del Harvey



Neo, Morpheus, Trinity, and even the spoon return in the second Matrix film, just in time to clobber the summer into submission with deeper meaning behind the best special effects you’ll see all summer.


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The hero’s journey is fraught with danger, disillusion, and doubt. To become a warrior often means the loss of a dear friend, the loss of a prized belief, and always the loss of innocence. Neo (Keanu Reeves) is ” the one,” the hope and salvation of the future of mankind. He was awakened by the prophet Morpheus (Larry Fishburne), a bridge between the dark now and the hoped for bright future. One of his disciples is Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), who falls in love with Neo. This nucleus is preserved intact from the first film, and follows all the right steps as The Matrix Reloaded propels us at supersonic speed towards the soon-to-be highly anticipated final chapter, Matrix Revolutions, coming later this year.

The machines have discovered the last human city, Zion, which is also the center of human resistance, and an army of those robot squids is sent to destroy it. While Neo, Morpheus and Trinity race through The Matrix to fulfill the prophecy, the citizens of Zion prepare for battle that pits the last remaining unplugged humans against the machines. Along the way, Neo battles Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) and his several hundred clones, a new agent (the upgrade) and a set of evil twins, among many enemies. Do not be surprised as Reloaded ends in a cliffhanger, setting up the trilogy’s finale, Matrix Revolutions.

The Matrix was conceived as a comic book by Wachowski brothers Larry and Andy, but it wound up on the big screen first. The comic that exists is nothing like the film and, in truth, the film far exceeds the comic. The brothers achieved film history with the first Matrix, topping all special effects which came before, and breaking box office records in the process. Being a fan of the first film, I will answer those important questions for the fans among you:

1. Yes, the sequel is as good and possibly better than the first.

2. I found the opening slow, but after about 20 minutes the real story kicked in and everything shifted subtly into high gear and before I knew it, the film was over and I was wanting more, more, more…

3. It ends in a cliffhanger, but you don’t have long to wait for the final installment, and it really is a satisfying ending, even if a cliffhanger.

The effects are absolutely astounding. Numerous scenes come to mind…Neo battling a hundred Agent Smiths in a playground. Morpheus battling the new agent atop a semi traveling at high speed down the freeway. Trinity racing down the same freeway on a motorcycle at impossible speeds, going the wrong way. And the space-bending special effects when Neo takes to the sky to “do his Superman thing,” as one supporting cast member says, is truly incredible.

But there is much, much more to the film. The development of Neo as a near-God is very much a part of the whole theme, and the progression his character goes through is very well handled and quite logical. And we are shown Morpheus in a different light as we see the prophet talking to his people and their reactions; something unseen in the first film. And the relationship between Trinity and Neo is shown as a fully developed thing in the sequel, which just supports the underlying movement and the logic of the story.

I have read a few reviews which proclaim Reloaded as inferior to the first film. I can only disagree. This is an entirely different story, as it should be. Neo’s character has grown, and needs to continue to grow. It is inevitable that the hero, on his journey, would emerge from the shadows and darkness as destiny takes hold. This is absolutely the case with The Matrix Reloaded. And when all of the story is reflected upon, the truths stand alone and support the story’s progression and the hero’s evolution.

The Matrix Reloaded is an outstanding cinematic accomplishment. It is a very powerful film and every bit as good as the first. And it makes you hungry for the final chapter, as any good story should. Get in line and see it today.

Free your mind.

Del Harvey is a writer and the founder of Film Monthly. He is a devout Chicago Bears fan, loves Grant Park in any season, and recently taught screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago.



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