The Matrix Reloaded

There is no spoon. Only talking.

By Matt Springer
May 15, 2003

The Matrix Reloaded is so fucking cool.

Totally, completely, and seriously, dudes and dudettes. This is an AWESOME movie. The action sequences are universally magnificent. The special effects are light years beyond the first Matrix. Once the story locks in, it’s a ride that drags you through peril after peril, fight after fight, explosion after explosion. And it literally NEVER lets up.

Unfortunately, the above geekgasm doesn’t mean that The Matrix Reloaded is a great film, or that it lived up to expectations. In fact, neither is the case. Because in the end, no one knows how to shut the fuck up. And things take so damn long to get started. And the “intricate” verbage of this movie comes off as the kind of pop myth doublespeak that you can’t figure out and don’t really care about. In fact, I honestly wonder if the dialogue and ideas even lead back to any central point, or if it’s just a crapload of yakking designed to “push” the ideas of the first film into some kind of quasi-significant realm that no one’s MEANT to really understand.

There is scene after interminable scene of people talking about “big ideas.” Morpheus says plenty, the Oracle returns for a turn, “Agent” Smith gabs a ton. Even new characters, who we have absolutely no reason to be interested in, spend long stretches of the movie elaborating on their personal theories of humanity, the machines, and love. After a while, even the most attentive, brilliant, devoted fan has to want to rip someone’s tongue out, cause it’s just TOO MUCH.

And that’s a shame. Certainly, the original Matrix raised the bar for modern action films. But what was most remarkable about it for me was that it also set a new standard for the kind of pop mythos that George Lucas was once so brilliant at crafting. Since The Matrix, of course, we’ve had such other franchises as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and X-Men essentially treading similar ground. They’re all vastly different, but in some way, they’re all the grown-up kids of the Star Wars saga, each attempting to deliver a true depth of storytelling and meaning inside a wildly imaginative and exciting package. Peter Jackson, Bryan Singer, and the Wachowski brothers are all clearly die-hardStar Wars devotees, and each is filtering their stories through the legacy of Lucas’ saga in their own way.

Just like Mr. Lucas and his bloated prequels, it seems that the Wachowskis have been let loose without any real creative friction on The Matrix Reloaded. Thus, we have an impossibly talky summer blockbuster in which the words lose their meaning rather quickly. It seems as though no one had the power, the concern, or the sheer balls to walk up to Andy or Larry and say, “Listen, maybe we can condense the forty-five minutes of pointless gabbing into, oh, FIFTEEN minutes of meaningful gabbing.” This script is at least one brutal rewrite away from brilliance.

As it is, we get lots of frustrating talking, and a ton of coolness. The action, the design, the performances…it all adds up to a really solid package. As you leave the theater, it’s immediately clear that one viewing of the Burly Brawl between hundreds of Smiths and a superhuman Neo just isn’t enough. Ditto the incredible car chase sequence on a busy freeway; if the real judge of those sequences is the amount of times you duck because you feel as though the cars are all really hurtling toward you, then it’s easily one of the great car chases in film history.

There’s also just some unfuckingbelievably RAD visuals in The Matrix Reloaded. The opening sequence is just. So. Goddamn. Sweet. Every time Neo flies, I want to jump and cheer. It looks so awesome that it’s hard to imagine any Superman film looking half as cool. Zion’s endless array of doors, pathways and giant robots exceeded everything I’d imagined it could be. And the actors all deliver on the script as much as they can, standing around all bad-ass a lot and giving each word of their often treacly dialogue as much gravitas and action-movie chutzpah as they can muster.

So they’ve definitely come up with a sequel that pays off on the action and sci-fi wonderment of the original Matrix. It’s a shame that the ideas are so convoluted. A giant helping of clarity and conciseness would do wonders for this movie. Instead, everyone talks a lot, you stop listening, and it’s all you can do to stay awake till the next action sequence blows your mind.