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The Matrix Reloaded

"Now consider the alternative. What if I am right? What if the prophecy is true? What if tomorrow the war could be over? Isn't that worth fighting for? Isn't that worth dying for?"

I hadn't seen either of the Matrix sequels since they first came out in 2003. While I watch the original whenever I get the chance, I've effectively stayed clear of Reloaded and Revolutions for the last 16 years. But when it was announced that a new film would start shooting next year, with Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss returning as Neo and Trinity and Lana Wachowski writing and directing, I suddenly found myself interested in the world of The Matrix again. Not only that, but I was curious to actually watch the sequels again and see if thirtysomething me feels differently about them than twentysomething me did.

While a definite step down from the first film, Reloaded is still a perfectly watchable action flick. It has some big flaws, but I don't think any of them ever completely derail the film. Okay, there is the Architect scene, which is an info dump so badly overwritten that it pretty much derailed the entire franchise. But everything we get before all of that really ain't half bad.

The action scenes are, for the most part, rather good. I absolutely fucking love the fight in the Chateau between Neo and the Merovingian's goons. I'm gonna be completely honest and say it is my favourite fight scene of the entire trilogy. The big freeway chase is pretty exciting, if longer than it needs to be with some iffy FXs in places. The rest are either too brief or come across more like they belong in those annoying Matrix knock-offs we were bombarded with back then.

Like a lot of films from this time, Reloaded massively overestimated just what CGI could do. Or, to be more precise, it massively overestimated what CGI could do convincingly. The best (or should that be worst) example of this is the Neo/Smith(s) fight in the park. What starts out as a pretty nifty action scene is quickly drowned in a swam of poorly rendered CGI stuntmen.

I don't really have a massive problem with the Wachowskis deciding to bring Smith back as the main bad guy. He's still the best villain in the entire franchise and none of the ones introduced in this film are up to scratch. In fact, the Merovingian and the Twins are probably the worst characters in the entire trilogy. Forget what I said earlier about the Architect scene being the worst, the Merovingian's monologue about his orgasm cake is the real low point of the series.

The issue I have with Smith being brought back is that the film does a poor job of reintroducing him. The whole thing is just so clumsy and rushed. He just shows up right at the beginning of the film, suddenly alive and able to duplicate himself. What's even more infuriating is that he has almost nothing to do in either of these films except show up for fight scenes. He's supposed to be the trilogy's main villain and yet he has barely any screentime.

Notes and Quotes

--The role of Seraph was originally offered to Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li, but both turned it down.

--Sean Connery was also the first choice to play The Architect, but turned it down because he couldn't understand the concept of the movie. I wish he hadn't because lines like "Your life is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the matrix. You are the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite my sincerest efforts I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision. While it remains a burden assiduously avoided, it is not unexpected" would've been a lot more entertaining via Connery's Edinburgh twang.

--The Zion rave is silly, but not nearly as bad as it is made out to be.

--Two actors sadly passed away during the making of these films. Gloria Foster (The Oracle) died after filming her scenes for this film, but before she could film any scenes for Revolutions. Aaliyah had managed to film a few scenes as Zee before she died. These were eventually all reshot with Nona Gaye.

--The Wachowskis had it in their contracts for these films that they wouldn't have to do any media interviews.

Trinity: "You always told me to stay off the freeway."
Morpheus: "Yes, that's true."
Trinity: "You said it was suicide."
Morpheus: "Then let us hope that I was wrong."

Trinity: "Touch me and that hand will never touch anything again."

Agent Smith: "I killed you, Mr. Anderson. I watched you die... with a certain satisfaction, I might add."

Agent Smith: "Still using all the muscles except the one that matters?"

Two and a half out of four orgasm cakes.

Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig


  1. I remember liking this movie when I saw it in the theater, but later realizing that it wasn't satisfying. Maybe the movie's biggest problem is how it compares to the original. Maybe we were expecting too much.

  2. They definitely suffered from a severe case of Phantom Menace syndrome.

  3. I haven't seen this movie in years but I remember thinking that in a way this is the most re-watchable of the Matrix movies. The fight scenes are excellent (especially the chateau fight and the highway chase) and you don't get distracted by knowing the plot, because there basically is no plot. Pure form over substance.

  4. While some of the CGI hasn't aged well -- the animated Smiths during the Burly Brawl don't look much better than the graphics on Matrix PS2 games at the time -- it really just needs a makeover here and there; and to be fair, the original's big CGI shots haven't all aged great either. The Burly Brawl is one of my favorite sequences.

    I didn't understand The Merovingian and his little circle for the longest time, but in hindsight I find them all much more fascinating, and honestly that whole subplot is worth it just for Monica Bellucci as Persephone, the ridiculously sexy cyber-vampire.

    And yeah, even though I love the whole atmosphere of the Architect scene, that monologue is too long, too droll and too hard to follow, but again worth it just for Neo ultimately ignoring him and flying across the city to save Trinity; anyone ever wonder how many blue pills he killed in the process of getting to her?

    I think the sequels are good and have their place, in a way few sequels to movies as good as The Matrix do. The first movie is like the original Halloween, much better if seen as a single film because no sequel, no matter how entertaining, was probably going to recapture that magic. But unlike the Halloween series, the other Matrix films are all awesome in their own ways, even if they don't measure up. Reloaded does a fine job of expanding on what we saw in the first movie. Revolutions is all about the epic war to save Zion from Smith and the Machines. And The Animatrix is one of the best anthology films out there.

    Really, I'm kind of glad The Wachowskis made these movies, especially the sequels, when they did. I get the feeling that if these had come out after the social media explosion, they wouldn't have had as much freedom to do their own thing; learning that no interviews was part of their contract makes me think they knew it was best to keep their ideas close to the chest. And that's why I love the sequels alongside the original. It's a unique vision. And with that comes weird shit like orgasm cakes, cyber-ghosts, vampires and werewolves, bowling and domino sound effects as Neo hurls one Smith into a mass of other Smiths, the rave scene, and the Architect.

    I had no idea they were planning to do another one and don't really know what to think about it. On the one hand, I love that world and the Wachowskis aren't known for making things that aren't at least unique and entertaining. On the other hand, and it sucks to say this, but a lot of what The Matrix is remembered as (high concept action movie with people in monochromatic clothing getting into crazy kung-fu battles and slow motion gunfights) has become old hat by this point, as a direct consequence of its own influence. That was one of the things that hurt Reloaded and Revolutions back in 2003. In the four years between The Matrix and its sequels, the first movie's style had already been cannibalized by a dozen other movies trying to be the next Matrix.

  5. I remember watching this in the theater with friends. We had all been so excited. I think a bunch of us took off work so we could see it together. And then, having watched the film, we walked out and muttered a collective "meh."

    Rewatching it--knowing to set my expectations low--I liked it more than I thought I would. I think I've got a stronger sense of the Wachowskis' overall thesis of interconnectedness and love, which helped me deal with the rave scene (which had driven me bonkers back in 2003). A celebration of love, connectedness, and physicality in response to the dehumanization and biopolitics of the Matrix makes sense now that I've gotten over my youthful dislike of rave culture. (Because I'm just too old now to care.)

    This movie does seem to struggle with the question of how to follow up on the philosophy, or the literalization of philosophy, that made the first film seem so mind-bending. They wound up subbing abstruse French theory for a massive amount of Matrix-mythos, and the result is scenes like the Architect expositing about the universe of the films...which has quite a different effect than the first film's exposition about the nature of *our* reality.

    I really agree with you, Mark, about the use of CGI. If 1999 was a sweet spot for a bit of CGI enhancing practice effects and wire work, 2003 might be a low point in what the creators wanted vs. what was achievable with the technology of the time.

    I was so "meh" on this film that I never got around to watching Matrix Revolutions. That's up next!


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