Matrix Reloaded dir Wachowski Bros
25 May 2003


Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. What have they done this time? Nothing good that they didn't do last time; a lot bad that was certainly not done last time, and shouldn't have been done this time either. This is not cult-movie material. It's not even smash-hit material. It probably will be a smash hit, at least in terms of the box office, but that is merely the effect of public expectation. Just as well the first-week gross was so huge. They won't make much money for much longer once word gets out about the travesty that The Matrix has become in this sequel.

It's messy. That's my major issue with it. The Matrix was lean and clean, fast and hard, loaded with symbolism and satisfyingly brief but beautiful action sequences. You may have realised that I appreciate symmetry, especially symmetry of the symbol; The Matrix was full of that. That's why it became what it did to its most devoted audiences, and that's why my enjoyment lasted and was still going strong after 15 or 20 viewings. That's what Reloaded lacks.

Don't get me wrong here - I didn't dislike it. But it certainly wasn't what the first Matrix had prepared me for. There were Jackie Chan moments, James Bond moments, Jet Li moments. Even the odd J-Lo moment. But the first Matrix had nothing but Matrix moments. Have I spent the last four years nudging friends in cinemas and whispering "Matrix ripoff!" only to find myself thinking "Star Trek ripoff"? Apparently the Wachowski Bros were trying to create something uncopyable. Man, have they failed.

It's a mess of pottage. It's ordinary, mainstream, it has sex scenes and true love, underground dance scenes, politics and unexplained plot developments which shouldn't be left to a third film. It reduces Morpheus (above) to a waffling evangelist and Zion to a machine-age relic. Trinity comes alive, and Neo through her, but I'm not sure that chemistry is what's needed to save this film, somehow. Something tells me it needs shorter fight scenes, much less car chasing, less meaninglessly clever philosophising and less haste. And taking up all that space? Visual hints rather than clunky detail; a minimum of real words to convey the maximum information; rhythm; elegance; a severe cut-down in the special effects department. And symbolism, for crying out loud. Did no one tell them why the first film was so good? Neo = One = new, the Second Coming theme, the death and resurrection of Tank and Neo and punishment of Cipher are the symbols that come to mind. There's death and resurrection here all right, but it's totally meaningless. Symmetry shows its pretty face in places, but is immediately squashed under another lurid fight scene. And oh, the areas of unexplored potential! The Twins, the Keymaker, all the Smiths - in conversation, not in fighting - shall I go on?

I need to see it again - just once more. Then will I return to the original and try to forget that a sequel ever happened. And I'll see Revolutions in November, for I haven't lost my fan loyalty. But I await Revolutions with a heavy heart.


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