In another very occasional retro review, this time originally published in Starburst magazine, I revisit The Matrix Reloaded. In the years since, I've concluded The Matrix, like Jaws, never needed a sequel. However, there are visceral thrills to be had in its first sequel...
Artfully blending the film noir of Dark City (1998) with Alice in Wonderland and Marxist cultural criticism, the Wachowski brothers breathed new life into late 1990s Western action cinema with the release of The Matrix (1999).
During the first hour of Reloaded it is as if George Lucas somehow downloaded The Phantom Menace virus into the creative database of the Wachowski Brothers, infecting the once lean stealth-like Matrix with endless discussion and senatorial deliberation!
The bloated sequel ironically now reflects the Star Wars franchise, which it so devastatingly broadsided in the summer of 1999. However, the issues are very different. Whilst Menace was bereft of a cohesive and engaging story. This second act is a rich semiological montage of academic musings and high-octane opium that commands repeated viewing!
The arrival of Persephone (Monica Bellucci) raises the sexual tension and Reloaded takes flight, never ceasing to amaze and astound. Culminating in a breathtaking car chase. In less assured hands this 15 minute freeway frenzy would have been unsustainable, here it becomes quintessential cinema. Sending out seismic shock waves that will be felt for years to come. A convincing reminder of the audacious and adroit talent of the Wachowskis and their production team.
The star of the movie is unquestionably Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), who is the emotional counterpoint to Neo's (Keanu Reeves) detachment. Trinity is an angular and androgynous shadow dramatically aspected against state-of-the-art bombast.
By the pale moonlight, a haunting silhouette of Neo instantly transforms into an homage to both Batman and Superman. Sending shivers down the spine of this comic book fan!
It appears that even Neo isn't immune to the curse of Narcissus. But, Reloaded is a pool worth diving into. You'll emerge in delirious anticipation for Revolutions.