Matrix Reloaded makes the best of its mega-budget
The Matrix Reloaded is a techno-action fantasy intent on blowing every part of a viewer’s mind. Wild with ambition to dazzle the head and eyes, it’s the way a studio should spend $150 million on a summer sequel.
The Wachowski brothers, who wrote and directed the original 1999 tale about machines using computer reality to enslave the human race, return here in a bid to meld the greatest gunfight-kung fu action set-pieces ever filmed with a sprawling examination of human philosophy while flirting to explain, dare it be said, the meaning of life.
It delivers on the former and stumbles on the latter.
Reloaded returns us to Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishburne as a new threat faces the few humans not dominated by the machines: a 250,000 robot army marching (or drilling) on the humans’ last hold-out, the subterranean city of Zion.
On paper, Reloaded reads like 100 other genre pieces. On the eyes and ears, especially the much-touted 15-minute car chase, it reaches artistry unseen in the genre before. Only the most fuddy-duddy of viewers won’t be thrilled. It hits some snags as the action stops for philosophical monologues. Not as subtle or tightly woven as the original, when Reloaded halts Reeves to listen to a friend or enemy wax on this or that theory of life, it is like lead. Sometimes beautiful, always extravagantly sculpted lead, but lead. It’s a juxtaposition hard to take but for the avid fans.
Like all great movies, Reloaded uses the conventions of its genre to get at a larger story. As The Godfather used gangsters to talk about American power and family or Chinatown stole the detective film to muse on corruption, Reloaded takes kung fu to tease through the questions every human mind faces. It doesn’t fully succeed, but it gets close enough.