RogerBW's Blog

The Matrix Reloaded (2003) 03 August 2023

2003 SF, dir. Wachowskis, Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne; IMDb / allmovie. OK, so you're God. Now what?

Alas the answer turns out to be "more of the same, only bigger". In particular, all we saw of the Resistance in the original film was this one ship, with these few people – it was economical, it worked. Now it turns out that that's just one of many ships, in a city so busy they need people with a higher workload than modern air traffic controllers to manage it all, and this guy who was the charismatic leader is just one guy whom the others don't even like very much.

But my real problem is that this is an action film. I mean, it's not a bad action film, though it's a little too proud of its effects (the fight with lots and lots of the same Agent Smith could have been done better with lots of extras and good-quality makeup rather than CGI trickery); but its being an action film betrays the premise of the original. Everyone, both enlightened humans and programs working for whatever the ultimate power is, treats the internals of the Matrix as though it were a real place: to get from A to B you have to travel through the intervening space, and you fight people by applying kinetic energy to them. But they should be transcending the tyranny of physical space completely; they should be able to teleport to wherever they want to be, or if there's a barrier in the way it would be transcended by hacking rather than merely by driving along a road. You can do anything you like, and all you can think of is "I can fly when I remember to", "I can possess someone else's body" and "I don't need to reload"? Pah.

There are big moments, like Morpheus's rabble-rousing speech or the two huge fight scenes, but they never have enough emotional build-up to make me care about them. It's just pretty graphics. Oh look, Neo has to fight a bunch of people we've never seen before and will never see again. Do we think he will win? Is there any tension to this at all?

There are some good bits when the actors are allowed to act. Trinity largely exists to be put in danger to motivate Neo, but Moss does a decent job with it, Fishburne is always great, and Reeves is now a reasonably competent actor even if we're still subconsciously waiting for the "whoa". But the philosophy is gone, people increasingly have titles instead of names (something I find a sure sign of a lazy scriptwriter trying to build up mystery), and… I just don't find it compelling.

I didn't watch this when it came out, because of general bad press among people who'd liked the first one (as I did). On watching it in 2023, I found no reason to disagree with those opinions. There was no artistic or creative need for a sequel, just an economic one.

I talk about this film further on Ribbon of Memes.

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  1. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 09:41am on 03 August 2023

    Here I tend to agree with you.

    Patrick Willems did a rather good take on the problems:

  2. Posted by DaveD at 02:52pm on 03 August 2023

    Yeah, this is where we run into my usual line of "Y'know, I really enjoyed The Matrix. Shame they never got around to making the sequels..."

    There are some high points: I love the Merovingian, more thanks to Lambert Wilson's gloriously shameless scenery-chewing than the actual part and the first view of Zion is cool, but they're not enough for me. Hugo Weaving, too, continues to be good value and seems to relish the silliness of things. But altogether? No.

    Y'know, I really enjoyed The Matrix. Shame they never got around to making the sequels.

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