U.S. Release Date: May 15, 2003
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Director: Lilly & Lana Wachowski
Writer: Lilly & Lana Wachowski
Producer: Joel Silver
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Hugo Weaving, Monica Bellucci
Running Time: 2 hours and 18 minutes
MPAA Rating: R (sci-fi violence and some sexuality)

Reloaded but Unfinished
by C.A. Wolski

Fans of The Matrix will probably find its sequel, The Matrix Reloaded, a satisfying, enjoyable prelude to this November's final chapter The Matrix Revolutions. Those joining the queues to find out what all the hype is about will probably leave the theatre scratching their heads or downright angry.

Reloaded finds the heroes of the first installment waiting to make a last ditch fight against the Matrix's evil real world robot sentinels for the salvation of the human enclave of Zion. Complicating matters are double agents; a love triangle involving the John-the-Baptist-like Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Locke, commander of Zion's defense forces; and the Matrix's ontology and the real nature of Neo's Christ-like prophetic role in freeing the human race.

The sequel offers all the same cyber noir touches of the first movie. The world of the Matrix rendered with such a stunning coolness, that the grimy real world scenes—though a necessary juxtaposition—are even more jarring this time. The fight scenes, though a bit on the longish side in some cases, are just as spectacular, if not more so. There are even wry flashes of humor as when Neo (Keanu Reeves, who brings all of his wooden acting skills to the forefront here) stops several hundred automatic weapon bullets by force of will. The big set piece battle which finds Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus on a Matrix version of L.A.'s 101 Freeway is flawlessly executed and could set a new standard in how a set piece fight is staged.

But for all of its virtues, The Matrix Reloaded is flawed because it is essentially two and half hours of prologue for the final installment. Not that this isn't a bad thing per se, but the movie almost has too much going on, and several subplots, notably involving the literally duplicitous Agent Smith, aren't fully developed enough to really warrant our attention—yet.

The best element, though, has to do with the theme, which is clearly defined as free will versus predestination (or fate if you will), and is explored throughout, setting up the climax in which Neo learns the nature of the Matrix and himself. It's the metaphysics of the Matrix that hooks the hardcore fans as much as the action, which is refreshing in and of itself.

The Matrix Reloaded may be one of the oddest sequels in history in that, though a separate movie, it truly needs its follow-up to be complete.

A note to parents, though the action in The Matrix Reloaded is fairly bloodless by today's standards, it is pretty intense. There is one scene of artful love making, and some flashes of nudity and sexual grinding in a dance scene in Zion. And a note to those who didn't see The Matrix the first time around, rent it on DVD or video before you see the Reloaded or you'll be completely lost.

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