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The Matrix Reloaded: Frank's Take

01/06/2003. Contributed by Frank Ochieng

Buy The Matrix Reloaded in the USA - or Buy The Matrix Reloaded in the UK

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Frank finds the whimsical Wachowski tandem are at it again with the second installment of this frothy film series in the form of the visually vigorous and devoutly exhilarating The Matrix Reloaded.

The Matrix Reloaded (2003) Warner Bros.

2 hrs. 18 mins.

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Jada Pinkett Smith, Matt McColm, Monica Bellucci, Collin Chou, Gloria Foster, Nona Gaye, Randall Duk Kim, Harry Lennix, Harold Perrineau, Lambert Wilson, Anthony Zerbe, Neil and Adrian Rayment

Directed by: Andy and Larry Wachowski

When The Matrix hit the big screen back in 1999, it practically defined the ultimate rush in the escapist world of pure science fiction moviemaking.

Cinema siblings Andy and Larry Wachowski ushered in a fresh and kinetically challenging phenomenon that took the audience’s imagination by storm in the way they fortified their high-powered and glossy narrative with ultra-mystical and philosophical conceptions.

The Matrix ReloadedWell, the whimsical Wachowski tandem are at it again with the second installment of this frothy film series in the form of the visually vigorous and devoutly exhilarating The Matrix Reloaded. Later this year, the trilogy will be completed with the release of The Matrix Revolutions that promises to be as spellbinding in its own high-voltage presentation.

The Matrix Reloaded continues in its transfixing path to convey the perplexing meditation triggered by intriguing themes of thrill-seeking forethought. The Wachowski Brothers are thoroughly solid in helming this extravagant spectacle that is sure to be exuberant in its gravity-grabbing execution.

Armed with the unique and stylistic film techniques that include advanced computer-generated visual effects to accompany the metaphysical aspects of the action-oriented storytelling structure, The Matrix Reloaded packs a wallop as an awesome and introspective piece of symbolic entertainment. Expressively potent, viscerally sharp and colorfully explosive, the Wachowskis deliver a frenetic fable that’s thankfully rousing and robust in attitude.

The gang is back and ready to rumble as the Matrix, that computerized programming force of illusion used to cloud the minds of its human slaves, looks to disable and eventually eradicate the existence of mankind in the wake of its conniving and destructive mode. As one can imagine, the oppression is unbearable and being subjected to the constant control of menacing machines is too much to take. Hence, the balance of humanity is in question.

Back into the thick of things is computer hacker turned superhero icon Thomas A. Anderson (Keanu Reeves), otherwise known as the movie’s stone-faced hero-of-the-moment Neo or "The One". Accompanying Neo in this existing quest is spiritual guide Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), an ardent student of "the prophesy" whose belief that Neo holds the key to the salvation of man thus maintaining the ability to save them all from the fatal clutches of the unpredictable Matrix.

Also back on the scene is devoted warrior Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), Neo’s rambunctious love interest from the previous film. In fact, the love affair between the lovebirds gets the specialized treatment in this edition as the sparks ignite convincingly amongst the other flammable findings within the storyline.

Neo and his cohorts are aggressively trying to battle their mechanical foes in an effort to stop them from destroying Zion, the last refuge for humanity on Earth where everybody’s wits are seemingly in tact.

By re-entering the Matrix, Neo hopes to accomplish a slew of tasks such as defining his self-importance as "The One" while honing his skills at doing what he does best—combating the evil realms that lurk in the deceptive computer program designed to give the cunning Matrix a sense of fabricated normalcy.

Among Neo’s confrontations, he pays a visit to the Oracle (played by the late Gloria Foster) in order to seek out his relevance pertaining to this massive mission. In his continued adventures, Neo will come across some rather unusual characters: fellow freedom fighter Seraph (Collin Chou); the knowledgeable Keymaker (Randall Duk Kim) who is efficient enough to understand the tricky program’s flaws; and the Architect (Helmut Bakaitis) whose credentials are dubious as the Messiah that gave creation to The Matrix.

Other noted personalities include Matrix political power couple Merovingian (Lambert Wilson) and his scheming wife Persephone (Monica Bellucci). Of course we cannot exclude the Twins (Neil and Adrian Rayment), the dangerous dreadlock duo.

The narration involving Neo and his fellow trekkers Morpheus and Trinity as they scout out the territory becomes very interesting when others tag along in the anticipation of liberating Zion. The rest of the heroic "crew" includes Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) who happens to be Morpheus’s ex-galpal; Morpheus’s associates Link (Harold Perrineau) and his nervous Nellie wife Zee (Nona Gaye); and honorable Councillor Hamann (Anthony Zerbe).

Probably the most fascinating character ever to return to the scene of the crime is the villainous Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), the roguish renegade that was extinguished so callously in the original film. Well, Smith makes his presence known one more time and cruises the Matrix as a loose cannon on the prowl.

Plus, he has the resourceful talent to replicate himself at will. Thus, the saucy showdown between the incorrigible Agent Smith and the determined dark clothed Neo is set up so that Smith’s one hundred clones attack our periled protagonist in unison.

As much as Neo diligently battles Smith’s look-a-like minions and chops them down randomly in their tracks, the clones continue to multiply and resume attacking. Neo is overwhelmed and understandably so. Yet, this doesn’t phase the sunglass-wearing studmuffin one bit and he momentarily escapes the melee in hopes of clearing his thoughts to focus on the big picture at hand.

There’s no doubt that the zesty direction by the Wachowskis fuels this invigorating actioner with the desired dosage of special effects firepower needed to uphold the mesmerizing aesthetics joyfully displayed in this barraging blockbuster. Granted the plotline isn’t as sturdy as in the film’s profitable predecessor but the choreographed action sequences are astounding to say the least.

The generous-minded moviemakers were wise to stock up on the overzealous tics of the chaotic script and eye-catching wonderment that absolutely brings a distinct resonance to the sensationalistic goings-on taking place in this apocalyptic Zen-induced universe.

If anything, the vibrancy of the violence frequently demonstrated is almost as strangely lyrical as listening to the sweet sounds of violin music during a gondola ride in Venice. The mayhem is operatic in its slow motion movement and almost makes comparing The Matrix Reloaded to that of an overextended yet eloquent religious ritual.

When the incredible fight scenes and awestruck stuntwork (be sure to check out the film’s lengthy mind-boggling and memorable freeway chase scene that’s among the signature treasures to behold) is up front and center, there’s an immediate tendency to dismiss all logic or coherency. In short, Reloaded is maximized mythological eye candy that struts its celebrated overkill in glorious strides.

The Matrix Reloaded is most deserving of its boisterous convictions. The Wachowskis definitely know how to stretch the vivid imagination to the limit by overseeing a grand and gaudy project that propositions its observers with exaggerated divine rhythms while putting on what appears to be an intoxicating bullet-bouncing ballet. The repetitive recklessness is downright pleasurable on the senses and the film’s virtual reality impact lingers freely in amazing curiosity.

The monumental scope of Reloaded is undeniably rapid, exotic, and marvelous in its impressive viewing. Whatever overachieving digital dynamics it took to make this dreamlike dinosaur roar, the verdict is clear--the Matrix and all its frivolous philosophical ramblings is exactly the frolicking fix that moviegoers will cherish getting tangled in.

To appropriately paraphrase the lean and laconic Armani-clad Keanu Reeves, "Whoa"! Believe me, that is a self-explanatory word to live by when enduring the adventurous Wachowski Brothers’ mind-numbing cinematic existentialism.

Frank rates this film: *** stars (out of 4 stars)

(c) Frank Ochieng 2003

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