Film Review – The Matrix Reloaded

There Is No Point

(Originally published in Inform Magazine, June 2003)

It’s surprisingly rare to get a thoroughly lousy hyped-to-the-heavens Hollywood blockbuster to really spit venom at, that indulgences must be craved just so we can talk about one film that came out last month and which has already had more than enough words written about it. Not since the glorious farrago that was Batman And Robin has something as genuinely, gobsmackingly awful as The Matrix Reloaded assaulted an audience who have a right to expect their big blockbusters to be at least mindlessly entertaining.
The men responsible in every way for this terrible sequel are a couple of geeky film directors who like to avoid the spotlight. The Warchowski Brothers are looking ever more sensible at this moment, because if they were to do the chat show circuit they would be inundated by slightly disbelieving people simply asking “why?” Until now, the Warchowskis were praised for their ‘single-minded vision’ and the fact that they made blockbusters outside of the manufactured studio process. Just like George Lucas did for his prequels. Hmm…
As reported in our sequel special last month, The Matrix Reloaded was something that was conceived after the success of the first film and boy does it show. You know how The Matrix ends with the shot of Keanu Reeves flying up into the air? We could forgive that slightly daft moment because the rest of the film was such an exhilarating thrill ride. The Matrix Reloaded takes that idea and, unbelievably, runs with it. People learning instant martial arts is an idea we can take. Keanu flying around in dark glasses and daft overcoat is just plain silly.
This is the world of The Matrix Reloaded. It’s a world completely devoid of humour and of two filmmakers who so love their own creations that they refuse to accept that people might view what they’ve created in a different light from theirs. They probably haven’t got a clue why people are sniggering at Keanu “doing his Superman act”, as a character actually has the nerve to point out, nor do they understand why people are bored to tears a lot of the time. I expected many bad things from The Matrix Reloaded, but I did not for a minute think it would be boring.
Huge sections of the movie are taken up explaining things from the first movie that didn’t need explaining. And what’s even worse is that these explanations are thoroughly incoherent. There’s a thing that writers do when they’re not sure of a scene where they write their way into it by coming up with any old rubbish, with the intention of deleting it later. Most of the dialogue in the Matrix Reloaded sounds just like this. So the Oracle from the first film gets a huge scene where she explains what she is to Keanu and we’re left at the end not knowing what the hell she was talking about. The actress playing the Oracle died during the making of the film, probably from having to read such nonsensical and portentious exposition like, “you didn’t come here to make a choice, you’ve already made it. You’re here to try to understand why you made it”. Taken individually these lines aren’t so bad, but over two hours of them, shared out amongst possibly the worst actors the Warchowskis could find (there’s some truly terrible acting going on here but then this is a series that stars Keanu Reeves) and it tends to turn your brain to mulch.
But wait, you cry, The Matrix isn’t about acting and dialogue. It’s all about great martial arts and special effects. Well the problem there is that for some bizarre reason, the Warchowskis have decided that what happens in the ‘real world’ is much more interesting than what happens in the Matrix. So we get lots of stuff set in Zion (a happy place it seems, despite the point of the first film), with lots of thrill a minute confrontations between Morpheus and the ‘council’. “There is no point”, says one councillor, taking the words out of your mouth. So it’s a while before we actually get into the Matrix – something that the filmmakers may have realised as Neo then has a completely pointless fight with a martial arts master. But then that’s not quite as pointless as the fight he has with the baffling multitudes of Agent Smiths, where not only is the CGI horribly obvious (the effects in this film cost the earth and they still don’t look right) but every single person watching goes ‘why doesn’t Neo just fly away?’ He does, in the end.
The Matrix Reloaded so desperately doesn’t want to be brainless eye-candy that it becomes a pretentious, incoherent and boring mess. You can’t fault the Warchowskis for ambition but could someone please tell them that they’re only making films. If they could do this before The Matrix Revolutions comes out that would be great. Ta.

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About klausjoynson
I'm a writer, editor, musician, DJ and cartoonist. Contact me at: klausjoynson(at)gmail.com or follow me on Twitter: @KlausJoynson

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