Directors: The Wachowskis
Writers: The Wachowskis
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Jada Pinkett Smith, Gloria Foster
The second film entry to the Matrix series is an overly ambitious and very messy follow-up to the near perfect original. It takes the original film and expands on it in every way, bigger scale, flashier effects, and deeper lore. It doesn’t have the same heart of the original, but it’s impossible to not admire what The Wachowskis were trying to do with it. This isn’t a safe sequel at all.
Picking up a few months after the original, Neo (Keanu Reeves), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) are still fighting as part of the resistance. They are being called back to Zion out of fear of an impending attack, while in the Matrix, Neo also meets the Oracle again to try and discover the secrets of the Matrix and its origins.
The original Matrix film didn’t really need a sequel. It’s a perfectly self-contained story that works on its own. Regardless a few years later there was not one but two sequels, that had been shot back-to-back and were released six months apart. The Wachowskis went all out in creating the sequels, with new technology being created for the visual effects and the world being expanded upon as much as possible. In some ways it works but it just doesn’t recapture the same magic as the first one.
The film is incredibly uneven, and it just hasn’t aged as well as the first one. The first hour or so is very slow and meandering without much purpose other than to set up the better second half, where things really get going. By the end though, this feels like little more than a steppingstone to the final part of the trilogy. There are loads of really cool moments and thrilling action sequences, but beyond that it’s really lacking in what made the first one so special. It doesn’t have the same connection with the characters and the incredibly detailed lore is there scattered throughout, but it’s not really until we get to The Architect almost two hours in, that it really pays off.
Even if the pacing is off, there are still a lot of things to love about it. The action scenes and fight choreography are all excellent. It’s a visual marvel and still stands up with impressive CGI and incredible moments that are simply pure adrenaline. Neo gets so many great moments, where it’s just awe inspiring to watch. It’s the same with the music, that hard industrial score is on a par with the original.
It’s stylish and sleek and looks great from start to finish. It feels like a bigger and more polished version of the original, just without the mind-blowing plot that the first one had. There are good moments in The Matrix Reloaded but it feels very shallow, especially when compared to what came before. It takes way too long to get going, and while the action and visuals are incredible, there’s not much else there.
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