Science fiction and fantasy                                            

The Matrix Reloaded

directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski

The Matrix Reloaded poster  
A strong candidate for the most hyped film of 2003, The Matrix Reloaded sees the Wachowski brothers pick up where they left off in The Matrix, and pile on the style. From the trailers you might expect this to be a flashy spectacle of non-stop action. It is nothing so crude.

Zion is in danger. Machines are burrowing down towards it, preparing for an assault on the last settlement of free humans. Within the matrix, Neo's powers are astounding. He is seemingly invincible. But outside of it he is just another ordinary man, and as the machines burrow down to try to destroy Zion, there doesn't seem to be much he can do about it.

On top of all this, Neo is having bad dreams. He has what seem to be prophetic visions of Trinity being killed. As well as having prophetic dreams, he is the subject of his own prophecy, although what this is doesn't get a lot more specific than "He is the one".

So whilst most of the fleet of Zionese ships set about defending Zion, Neo and a few others plug back into the matrix and attempt to bring it down from within. Neo talks with the Oracle once more, who he sees in a different light since their last meeting. Agent Smith is back, this time with the ability to replicate himself resulting in one of the film's more memorable fight scenes.

We are introduced to the Merovingian (the Merovingians were a dynasty of French kings during the dark ages), a somewhat slippery Frenchman. Sophisticated and urbane, he is guarded and gives little away behind a smokescreen of small talk, and there's something repellent about the way he behaves. He orders someone a special cake, in an obvious tribute to a certain film starring Meg Ryan. His name suggests great age, and indeed his henchmen are all manner of supernatural beings, as well as having Persephone as his wife. In myth, she is the wife of Hades and queen of the underworld.

The plot is complex, and hard to follow if you don't pay close attention. There are details laced with symbolic meaning, such as the many names with religious and mythological overtones. Not for nothing does Neo look more than a little priestly in his long black clothes. I predict a lot of those will be sold this year. The names are only clues though, this is no re-telling of the Bible, or any other discernable myth.

Via yet more stylish but bloodless violence, a car chase, and the pursuit of The Twins, Neo arrives in the office of the Architect. "The problem is choice," says Neo, and we are back in the realm of the philosophical once more. This is a film about free will, predetermination, and so much more. The Architect gives Neo yet another choice which leads to the conclusion of this film.

Like The Matrix, this one ends very much on a "To be continued ..." note. Fortunately the next installment is due out in November, so fans won't have long to wait. It doesn't stand alone, and can only really be judged in the context of the other movies. That is not to say that the ending of The Matrix Reloaded is unsatisfactory, far from it.

There is only the lightest touch of humour, yet the film is very engaging. It taps into a common, deep-seated fear of machines taking over that has been explioted in a lot of recent science fiction movies such as Existenz, The Net, and the Terminator films. It involves the audience on many levels, both as an action movie and an exploration of what it means to be free. The 15-certificate may have been awarded because of the levels of sex and violence, but it is also a story that is likely to go over the head of most children. It will stand up to repeated viewings, and in fact demands to be watched several times in order to fully appreciate it. The Wachowski brothers have outdone themselves, again.

Film Details

Year: 2003

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 15

If you like this, try:

Source Code cover    

Source Code by Duncan Jones
A man is forced to relive eight minutes on a train that will blow up again and again, until he can solve the crime.

Inception cover    

Inception by Christopher Nolan
An idea can change everything in this thriller about dream infiltrators.

Johnny Mnemonic cover    

Johnny Mnemonic by Robert Longo
A data courier is left with a head full of dangerous information in this adaptation of a short story by William Gibson.

5 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson