The Matrix Reloaded (2003)

Action, Sci-Fi
Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving
Neo and the rebel leaders estimate that they have 72 hours until 250,000 probes discover Zion and destroy it and its inhabitants. During this, Neo must decide how he can save Trinity from a dark fate in his dreams.
A worthy sequel even if it is a little heady and less satifying than the first Matrix.
  • Warner Bros. Pictures Company:
  • R Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 15 May 2003 Released:
  • 14 Oct 2003 DVD Release:
  • $281.5M Box office:

All subtitles:

Trailer:

Good but the heavy plot and Shakespearean tone makes it more difficult for itself5/10

News reaches Zion of an army of sentinels amassing on the surface many miles above the city, clearly preparing for an invasion. While the city prepares for a counter attack on the sentinels, Morpheus pins his hopes on Neo and obeys orders to stay with broadcast range to allow Neo to meet with the Oracle. Neo meanwhile is plagued with dreams of Trinty's death in the matrix. When the Oracle does contact Neo, she tells him of The KeyMaker – the man who can get him access to the very source of the matrix. A rescue mission is mounted which is complicated by not only the agents, but rogue programmes and the return of a `freed' Agent Smith.

Many reviews (here and in the press) have tended to go one way or the other. Some have lavished praise on this film claiming it as a milestone and even better than the original, others have hated it and laid into it heavily. I'm not wanting to sit on the fence but I do feel that both camps have valid points and that the answer is somewhere in the middle. The main reason I found it hard to get into this film was the heavy tone it has now developed. Seemingly the same bug that the Star Wars movies have caught (taking themselves too seriously) the matrix appears in danger of getting in a bad way. The plot here is quite straightforward and not as twisty as the original – however it is delivered as if every line of dialogue was profound. This really sucks the life out of the film as it is not profound but rather borders on the pretentious at times due to it's delivery.

I suspect that this was spotted and so the film is unnecessarily cluttered with minor characters that detract from the central tale. And so screen time is given to Link and his wife as well as a seemingly pointless speech from Merovingian. This makes it feel baggy and also slightly unsatisfactory when these strands appear to go nowhere but only fill time. Also the plot is a little too complex (all this rogue programme stuff) and isn't delivered in a user friendly way – it is not always clear what the significance of certain things are until later in the film and even then it is uneven. However both these criticisms will be countered if, in Revolutions, these strands are brought together and minor characters in Reloaded are shown to have a bigger input.

On the plus side the action is very good. I must admit that it wasn't as exciting as the original mainly because the plot wasn't as involving to me – I need a good story generally to get into the action side. However in honesty the action still looks great and is a real leap forward from the Matrix – a great blend of wire work and visual effects. Occasionally the special effects are slightly wanting (in Neo's fight with Agent Smiths it is clear when it is a visual effect rather than the real thing) but these are minor quibbles compared to some sterling work. The car chase on the freeway may be a very easy way to get an action scene but it still works very well and is exciting. The only downside to it is that I felt that an action scene should have been part of the end of the film – instead the `big' scene occurs a good 20 minutes before the end of the film. The actual cliff-hanger itself doesn't really work and it could have done better with a general downbeat ending like Empire Strikes back had – did it think I needed a reason to watch part 3? I'm already there!

The acting suffers from the same problems as the plot – it is all too heavy. The clearest way this is seen is in Fishburne. In part 1 he was very good, especially when he exposed Neo to the matrix with a mix of playful wit and serious touches when they were needed. Here in part 2 he seems to be mistaken that he is playing Othello again. Watch him speaking to the crowds at Zion, he really plays it like he is playing Moses or something. In fact all through the film he is very heavy – even compare his big fight with his previous face-off with Smith in part 1, there he was human and vulnerable here he is more like a rock and less fun for it. Moss is also serious but she was in part 1 too so it's not so noticeable. Reeves is good and at least adds some humour but he plays it very serious again. The additions add colour but are mostly distractions. The support cast in part 1 were merely there, here the film feels it has to develop them to make a rich tapestry but the end result is it feeling too stretched. It's hard not to watch Pinkett-Smith and feel that her character is more to do with the video game than the film itself. Happily Hugo Weaving is fun and is back with his old sneer, while the twins are good value despite having minimal plot impact.

Overall it was always going to be hard to follow up the first film. There the plot was gripping and it is difficult to make the growth of Neo's powers as interesting as his discovery of them was. I enjoyed the film but just felt that the almost biblical significance that it tries to give itself was it's undoing – luckily the action and style was it's salvation. Hopefully I will watch Revolutions and see how Reloaded works better in hindsight. Without that knowledge, many of the plot strands appear to be left loose. If I watched this as a film by itself then it would be irritating – if the conclusion to the trilogy can get back to the enjoyment and tone and spectacle of the matrix at it's best then this will be a much better film in company of it's brothers. Far from perfect but I don't see how anyone can totally write this film off.
Trying to see the bigger picture8/10
*** This comment contains spoilers ***

It's a pity Reloaded looks and feels so much like a bad sequel, to so many. Even to me to begin with even if I kind of enjoyed parts of the ride, a lot. But to me it helps looking at it as a bridge between beginning and end. As a part of a whole. The concept is so promising. I haven't had the chance to see the Animatrix yet, but surely I will. I guess I will spend hours with the game too. In Matrix I just love how interwoven and in balance the storyline is with the way its told. It reached out and grabbed almost everyone. This time around it seems as if there was too much to tell and too many dollars to play with in too short a time. Less balance. Still.. I'm thrilled.

Spoilers ahead. (You might need them) Matrix is so wonderfully mythological. Instead of being ethnocentric it puts the light on eternal religious questions in such a universal way. At the same time it formulates the original reason, philosophical questions. It is about knowledge and faith, belief. Controll through both sense and sensibility. The conflict between gnosticism and Judae-Christianity if we look in the rear mirror.

At the same time it is so biblical to a westerner like me. I won't bore you with all the name symbolism but with Neo himself. His actual name is Tomas Anderson and he is caught in the system (like everyone else in the years leading up to Y2K). In the bible Tomas is the disbeliever, and Tomas also means twin. Anders means man, as in Andros- (android). He is the doubtful son of man who is like the rest of us, who becomes Neo, the new one. At the same time it mirrors the first of Christianity and how it focused on the individual. There is no need for priests or churches (system) for the individual to reach the transcendent, for man to reach God. (And our heroes are individuals in small groups that fight the system, like viruses in a computer. (I just love that Nebukadnessar looks like a bug.)

In the first film we see the creation of (the believing) man. In Reloaded the religious theme takes a step back. Instead it is Free will vs. Determinism which is the main conflict. Thereby the existential perspectives which were planted in the first film can be developed. Here it is amusing to relate to the first existentialists that focused so much on free will and choice, Friedrich Nietsche and Soren Kirkegaard (one atheist and one Christian. The first captain to enroll freely in the final battle is called Soren).

Knowledge and faith remains as a conflict in Reloaded here represented by Lock and Morpheus. John Locke is called the father of The age of enlightenment which is the time of reason in our history. To me it looks like as if the Wachowski brothers are writing a mythological history of ideas for our time. Finally they might embrace even time after the postmodern.

There is a hint of a cycle here. Matrix is about birth, Reloaded about life and Revolutions about death (rebirth). Matrix is the becoming of man. Reloaded is man as a builder of theories and civilizations. Power and control is formed and developed. The Merovingian (400-600) are called the first kings of Europe and are known for their writing and the characters in their written language. (I am sure that you can find parallels to this "code" in the Matrix-code.) Anyway Merovingian is the one who has the 'key master' (the key to power and control?) The middle ages with its mystery and ghosts (lack of reason and empirical method) follows and can be seen in the set design, armor and weapons.

The middle ages were followed by The renaissance with all its use of Greek mythology The wife of Merovingian is Persephone who actually emphasizes on the rebirth theme because she gives our heroes a second chance to get to the 'key master', and as a goddess she is symbolized by a grain that can sprout.

Then comes The age of enlightenment with reason and empirical method which created the necessary conditions for a new conception of the world and industrialism. The living-conditions thereby changed radically for people which resulted in the revolutions of the 19th century and ideologically in the first existentialists, Soren and Friedrich. (Existentialism had a new upsurge when God had left us all alone once again and the world fell apart, during and after WW1 and WW2 during last century. ) The myth can be said to have survived by fleeing into the music and later into film via melodrama. Which leads us to were we and Matrix are right now.

I guess I just had too high expectations when I saw Reloaded the first time. It got better when I saw it a second time and right now it is one of my favorite friends, or bedtime stories. Too bad Reloaded is made in such a way that most people seem to (eventually) enjoy and point out the cinematography at its best. The saga deserves more.

Anyway The Matrix concept is already a classic piece of art, the latest transcription of the bible, a new history of mankind, the steepest roller-coaster and much, much, more.
Sometimes ridiculous, sometimes awesome, but ALWAYSspectacular!5/10

Last night I was fortunate enough to stumble across some tix to the "Reloaded" premiere. Since the original "Matrix" came out a few years ago everyone has imitated its' kenetic action style, which led me to think there's no way they can recapture that fresh and exciting edge again. But they did. The Wachowskis have way out done the new "Star Wars" films and without a doubt have far surpassed the "X-Men films." At times the dialogue is clunky and the Zion scenes are a little too Star Trek and Buck Rogers, but the action is always astonishing, and the humor is always in the right place...if not too much in the right place...For example Neo uses one of the many Agent Smiths to take down other Agent Smiths sending them all crashing with the sound of falling bowling pins. A little goofy but fun. The action though, I can't say enough about. The center chase scene is awesome and the opening cycle scene is.... Okay, no more words, "The Matrix: Reloaded" will not disappoint and by the time you reach the cliffhanger ending you're more than ready for a break from this double talking, mind bending adventure.
Perhaps overloaded, but definitely groundbreaking9/10

Watching The Matrix Reloaded, one is absolutely entitled to say that it is overloaded, too lengthy action sequences for instance, and indeed, a way too lengthy dancing scene in Zion. But next to that, it is obvious that this sequal to The Matrix (1999)takes the story to a whole new dimension. Different characters define the working of the matrix, and the meaning of life itself, in different ways, depending on their onthological background. A conclusion is not (yet) given, which adds to the movie a kind of postmodern quality. For as far as the action sequences are concerned: Groundbreaking. You'll see stuff that you've never seen before. Sometimes the scenes are a little lengthy, which harmes the narrative, but that is compensated easily by the visual spectacle. And yes, the Architect at the end is difficult to understand, but when you watch the film more than once, you'll find out that it does make sense what he says. All together this movie may not be as fantastic as 'The Matrix', but it is definitely a good movie that will keep you thinking for a while.
The only thing this film lacks is the element of surprise!9/10
The Matrix Reloaded has everything you could possibly want from a summer blockbuster but it like its predecessor has a heck of a lot more and while Reloaded is not as good as the first Matrix film it sure is close to the standard of the original. I don't understand the seeming reluctance to accept this film a suitable continuation of the original film. I'll be the first one to admit that Reloaded has a few slow points and that the story line has a tendency towards the pretentious but the film is also highly intelligent and entertaining but most importantly the film gets the story from A to B with adequate and in some cases remarkable character development.

Acting wise the film is in the same kind of league as the first film of the series with a few mediocre performances, a few decent performances and one or two excellent performances. Keanu Reeves plays Neo pretty much like he did in the first movie and that is not bad. His monotone voice is canceled out by his clear and well defined body language. His overall performance is very fitting for the character which, lets face it, is somewhat square and Keanu's acting fits that kind of character very well. Carrie-Anne Moss has taken a small step down. I don't blame her as much as I blame the writing. Her character, while still ass-kicking, is too dependent on Neo. I know they love each other but come on. Laurence Fishbourne shines as Morpheus. His performance is slightly more stylized than in the first film but he steals almost every scene he is in. Other semi-known actors make glorified cameos. Actors like Jada Pinkett Smith, Monica Bellucci and Lambert Wilson are great examples. Gloria Foster returns as the Oracle in her (sadly) last performance as she died during the filming. Her one brief scene is both highly interesting and well acted. As it was with the first film Hugo Weaving provides the best acting by far. Although his screen time is somewhat limited he manages to leave a lasting impression and becomes one of my favorite screen baddies of all time. His performance is for lack of a better word fantastic.

Effect wise Reloaded is a feast. There is literally something to look at in every scene. The "real" world has been given a face lift to make it more interesting. The real effects, however, take place inside the matrix and just like in the first film the effects are absolutely ground breaking. Rivaling the likes of Star Wars and LotR and that is saying something. The people who think the story is pretentious and the dialog stubby will undoubtedly get their adrenaline fix in the action scenes. Some scenes had me holding my breath and gasping at how beautiful and overwhelming it all was and as much as I love the philosophical aspects of the film I can watch it for the effects themselves as well. Without spoiling anything I can say that lovers of cool fight scenes and fx are in for a hell of a treat with this one.

In terms of costumes the film has really grown into its own. Especially Neo's costume in The Matrix is very cool and is a great improvement over the previous film. Morpheus' and Trinity's costumes are the same with minor changes and they still look cool. Agent Smith's costume has changed slightly in the color scheme. His suit has become a bit darker as if to signify that he is no longer an Agent of the system but a rogue agent now. Also his sunglasses have changed so that they look more rounded so they look more like Neo's sunglasses which of course implicates their connection. Many of the secondary characters have their own costumes as well mirroring their own personalities.

Were the film separated itself from other action packed films is of course in the underlying philosophical and religious aspects. Once the film has been watched a few times for the effects you can begin to see some of the elements. I don't think its possible to fully translate and analyze every element of the film. Mainly because every element can be analyzed in a bunch of different ways. Without spoiling too much I can say that if you look hard enough you will be able to find Plato, Baudrillard, Gnosticism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christian elements and some more. The people who tell matrix lovers to get a life for searching the Matrix for a deeper meaning ought to open their eyes and watch the film one more time. With that I'm not saying that you can't be intelligent if you don't like the Matrix I am simply asking you to give it another chance. You really won't regret it.

The Matrix Reloaded is an excellent film and it deserves a lot more respect than it is getting and it is definitely underrated. I don't expect people to agree but I do expect people to respect those who love the Matrix sequels like me. I for one think that its hard to go wrong with Reloaded as it is funny, moving, awe-inspiring and very intelligent. I highly recommend this film to anyone.

9/10