Neo (Keanu Reeves), Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie Anne-Moss) have a lot of challenges in the sequel that explores more of the Matrix and introduces Zion to audiences. Trinity and Neo develop well as a couple who truly love and care for each other while Morpheus’ ideals and past get further exploration.
The pace of the movie slows when characters pause to discuss important issues and some interesting ideals and philosophy. The advanced dialogue may put some audience members off, but filmmakers feel these important points enhance the plot and for the most part they do. The plot proceeds with a good balance of action sequences (some of the best ever filmed) and character dialogue, instead of trying to dish the audience action at a furious pace, staying true to the 1999 predecessor, The Matrix.
The sibling Wachowskis take big risks as directors/producers/screenwriters by possibly ostracizing audiences members who may not understand all the big concepts in dialogue scenes. They also have great confidence in the special effects team by constantly showing characters’ face in action sequences where most directors would try to hide them (there’s only one scene where Neo lands on the ground in a park that you can really tell it’s not Keanu), but they pull it off and the immense popularity of this film series allows them too. The film looks great as audiences get that now classic green tint in the cinematography when in the Matrix worlds then the harsh, but clear visuals when in the real worlds.
There are a few weaknesses that could’ve been improved. One dialogue-heavy scene in a restaurant mainly involving the French Merovingian, played by Lambert Wilson, would’ve been better if writers allowed the characters to interact more. The Wachowskis fully understand this risk and turn a possible weakness around by having Merovingian‘s wife, Persephone, played by Monica Bellucci (Tears of the Sun, Spectre), makes a cold comment about Merovingian’s constant babbling while explaining her motives to the audience at the same time. Also, a better transition scene would’ve helped right before Neo & company make plans to get in a secure building. The fighting sequence in the park is spectacular, but mirrors the gun fight near the end of the first Matrix film – great action and style, but little to further the plot or develop the characters.
Other action sequences further the plot along better, most notably the freeway chase – definitely in this reviewer’s top 10 action sequences of all time.
Mentions of Dozer, Tank and a gift from the little boy who bent the spoons give audiences some great compliments among the additions of new characters. The Nebuchadnezzar’s new operator, Link, played by Harold Perrineau, Jr., has a minor problem with authority and provides some good reactionary moments. Clayton Watson plays a character just known as the Kid, who’s devoted to Neo, but doesn’t do much except save Neo from
Other new characters include Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe, one of Morpheus’ former shipmates, who enhances his character development in this installment, especially on the spiritual side, and gets to kick some butt too. She’s now under Commander Lock, played by Harry J. Lennix, a no-nonsense authority in Zion who doesn’t see eye to eye with Morpheus’ ideals. Randall Duk Kim, plays the Keymaker, a welcome character who uses non-violent actions that help advance the plot while others fight.
Supporting antagonist characters include the unique “Twins” played by Adrian Rayment and Neil Rayment and a mysterious Zion inhabitant who apparently wishes harm on Neo. Hugo Weaving, the biggest and most entertaining baddie of them all, returns, returns and returns again as Agent Smith, a delightful element in the plot which adds anomalies and other details into the basic structure of the Matrix for added challenges and entertainment.
Gloria Foster also returns as the Oracle and gets one of the best dialogue scenes with Neo that puts more dramatic variable into the storyline. She unfortunately passed away as did Aaliyah who was originally cast as Zee, Operator Link’s wife, now played by Nona M. Gaye (Ali). Sing Ngai, a.k.a. Collin Chou plays Seraph, the Oracle’s assistant, a role that was offered to Jet Li.
Matrix Reloaded and the upcoming third installment of the trilogy Matrix Revolutions were filmed back to back, a rare challenge (possibly only surpassed by the Lord of the Rings film series) that the Wachowskis should be greatly commended for. Again Yuen Wo Ping’s martial arts choreography greatly enhances the action sequences as does the driving musical score by the returning Don Davis. This 138 minute sci-fi/action spectacle comes recommended (*** out of four stars) and is rated R for violence, sexuality and mild language.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler