If you had to sum up the Wachowski brothers’ “The Matrix: Reloaded” in one word, it would be “cool.” If you could use two words, the second would be “unnecessary.” Not in the sense that the movie didn’t need to be made, but that parts of it could’ve been left on the editing room floor.
“Reloaded” follows Neo (Keanu Reeves) as he continues to battle the mechanized, computerized evil that is the Matrix. This time around, the Matrix has sent a horde of robots tunneling to the city of Zion, intent on wiping out the last rebellious elements of the human race. King of cool Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) returns to tout the prophecy of the One, believed by some to be Neo, who will bring down the system and free all of humanity. Agent Smith, played by a devilishly deadpan Hugo Weaving, makes another appearance as well. During his final battle at the end of the first film, Smith received some of Neo’s special abilities, and now is seemingly free of the Matrix but still bent on destroying our handsome yet dimwitted hero. Some shred of a love story also exists between Neo and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), but it’s the fuedin’ and the fightin’ people go to see.
While “The Matrix: Reloaded” is a fun movie, it falls victim to the classic sequel problem: bigger, prettier and even more unnecessary junk. Take, for example, the fight scene between Neo and Mr. Smith after our hero consults the Oracle. The Wachowski brothers probably figure the coolness level of their move is correlated to the number of cool characters. If one Mr. Smith made “The Matrix” awesome, then 1,000 Mr. Smiths should make the audience erupt in orgasms of cool. Also, the dance scene toward the beginning of the movie that has all citizens of the underground human haven, Zion, gyrating like Ewoks on Ecstasy, could’ve been left out.
The movie also desperately throws out its arm pelting viewers with one heavy philosophical concept after another. “The Matrix” was a great movie in that it blended exciting fight scenes, interesting ideas and cool characters to a nice, easily digestible balance. If “Reloaded” isn’t dragging you through lengthy bullet-time sequences, it’s beating you over the head with the philosophical ramblings of villainous French characters.
One advantage to cramming too much into a movie is that there’s bound to be something fun. “Reloaded” has plenty of new, interesting characters and fight sequences to satisfy those with the most discriminating of tastes. The battle between Morpheus and a Matrix agent atop a big-rig wins for most entertaining. While Neo never appears to be in any real danger, it’s still a pleasure to watch him kick some digital ass.
The appearance of new and old characters keeps the movie entertaining as well. Lambert Wilson as the Merovingian, for example, has one of the best lines in the movie. The late Gloria Foster, who died during production of “Reloaded” in 2001, makes a final appearance as the Oracle and wins the award for Coolest Character That Never Fights. It’s worth going to see “Reloaded” just to sit and listen to her coach Neo.
The movie ends on a downer of a note, compared by many to the “The Empire Strikes Back.” It’s an unfair comparison, as “Empire” leaves viewers with a true sense of danger and uncertainty while “Reloaded” gives you a teaspoon of the same feeling. Yeah, Zion may be in danger, but hey, Neo can fly.
Plot twists fly at the viewer like bullets, people leap and bound, and electronic agents wreck havoc, making “The Matrix: Reloaded” worth seeing. However, anything over $5.50 is too much for this eye candy.