Allow me to begin this review by stating that while both Matrix films are good, I do not regard them as the end-all, be-all of film. The Matrix has, in a strange way, become the Star Wars of this generation. Its crowd seems to have the same mindset as many in the Star Wars clique – if you do not like it, you are garbage on the side of the road. While I am hardly one to be swayed by the mainstream, this thought was in the back of my head as I walked into the film.
Since the original Matrix, the underground city of Zion has become more endangered, Trinity and Neo have been busy in the sack, and Morpheus now speaks even slower. The basic plot is dished up in the first twenty minutes. Zion is in big trouble, and Morpheus strongly believes that Neo is their only hope for survival. Zion bureaucrats think differently (did they not see the first film?), but Morpheus eventually gets his way with a rousing speech to the entire city. Let the adventure begin.
I was hooked during the first act of this film. The Wachowski Brothers and co. did an excellent job of developing all of the characters even deeper, while also introducing some cool new characters (the albino twins who can disappear and reappear stand out particularly). There is even very little action in the first act, but then the philosophy started.
Oh, the philosophy. I recently suffered through a quarter of Philosophy 101, and I think the speeches in Matrix Reloaded makes even less sense than the ones I basically slept through in class. We meet a French guy who uses spiked cake to arouse women (no, I’m not making this up), and this scene lasts for eternity. Worse yet, it makes very little sense and serves as a serious road block for the film. I wished I had my pocket translator, but then I realized it was in English. There are several other philosophical babblings in the film, none of which did much for me. The scene with “The Architect” was confusing as hell, and I hope the final film, Matrix Revolutions, sheds some more light on this character.
But who sees the Matrix films for a philosophy lesson, huh? What about the action? Well, I am happy to report that this film has some of the best action scenes that I have ever experienced. Let’s do a fight scene by fight scene breakdown:
The Neo vs. 200+ Agent Smiths scene: While impressive visually, this scene resembles more of a video game than a movie. It is nice and long, and features Neo kicking some serious ass. The choreography here is simply amazing, and the special effects melt perfectly with the action. All of this is very cool, but the video game-like feel brought the scene down a notch for me.
The Highway scene: Without a doubt my favorite. Simply put, this is the best car chase that I have ever seen. I normally do not recommend seeing films “just for the effects,” but this is astounding. Describing it is a waste of time, but this masterpiece lasts almost fifteen minutes…and it felt like five.
The Trinity Falling Forever scene: The final battle is also quite a piece of work. I will not give anything away, but in short, this is chump change compared to the highway chase.
I am sure you are beginning to get the point by now. The action scenes are extraordinary and the philosophical scenes leave a lot to be desired (including sense). I must also mention how lame the “To Be Concluded” text was in the final frames. It worked for Back To The Future, but here it just seems out of place. Hopefully, however, when Matrix 6 comes out we can look back at this and get a good laugh.
Bottom line: I am recommending the film. The series really is something different, and that is needed. The action lives up to expectations, if not exceeds them. This is a killer way to start the summer movie season, and all in all this is an enjoyable film. So stop watching Star Wars: Episode 1 and see it!
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Length: 138 Minutes
Rating: R for sci-fi violence and some sexuality.
Theatrical Release: May 15, 2003
Directed by: Larry & Andy Wachowski
Written by: Larry & Andy Wachowski
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Jada Pinkett Smith, Gloria Foster