Back in the day, The Matrix was the shit.
Just when you thought sci-fi movies couldn't possibly blow your mind ever again, Matrix came along and changed everything. Here we had a mix of big ideas, comic-book visuals, anime-style philosophy, martial arts, ground-breaking special effects... it was cyberpunk at its coolest, smartest and most fun. It made Keanu Reeves, dark sunglasses, black trenchcoats/catsuits, mobile phones and computers badass. The Matrix was the very definition of "geek-gasm".
Then it was announced that a trilogy would hit our screens and we all simultaneously emptied our bowels into our own shoes: we were THAT excited. The possibilities! Can you imagine The Matrix with an even higher budget? An expansion of that world with Neo flying and everything?
Well, we got what we wanted I guess. Except...
We wanted something good lol
Watching it when it came out was certainly an experience. We were like 6 or 7 friends when I went to see it, completely overhyped, we were all big fans of the original and as silly as it was, we had a ball! But even then we knew something about Reloaded was a bit off. Seeing it years later, I was amazed by how obvious the film's flaws had become over time. The Matrix still holds up really well but this sequel has dated horribly. The effects, even back then, were patchy as hell but looking at them today, they range from good (the very first scene) to just plain embarrassing (CG-Keanu). I'm thinking of the Agent Smiths rumble (of course) which has its moments but occasionally drops the ball CGI-wise and soon starts to resemble a Tom & Jerry episode. Parts of it are kinda awesome, parts of it are lol and parts of it are simply hilariously bad. Sadly, that happens a lot in this movie.
Bringing back Agent Smith the way they do, it turns out, is shit-tons of fun for all the wrong reasons. Hugo Weaving is now officially a cartoon and as lolgasmic as he is, it's pretty distracting when literally everyone else in the film is playing it completely straight. Are we watching a Matrix movie or a fan-parody? I like the idea of the character becoming this kind of virus slowly taking over the Matrix and I love the idea of him transcending the system's reality into our world but the former is handled for shits and giggles and the latter is brought up early on then forgotten leaving it as a tease for Revolutions. This is a gaping flaw since what we're left with plot-wise for the rest of Reloaded is the search for an old guy who makes keys. Exciting! Talk about a missed opportunity...
SMITH: "The best thing about being me... There's so many 'mes'!"
*chest clones himself*
SMITH 2: "Me too!"
This is the level of dialog we're given, people. Brace yourselves.
Another main issue I have with this movie is Zion. Zion is a bore. Every scene taking place in the underground city is like being punched in the nuts by an old man: it's dull, awkward and unpleasant. Nothing that happens there is useful, interesting or entertaining. We know Neo is "The One", does that mean we NEED to see people making donations to him Jesus-style? Do we need to follow Michael from Lost through a long, tedious chat with his wife or whatever? Do we need an unmotivated dance/orgy with people bouncing up in slo-mo splashing fluids at us? Do we need an old man talking shit to Neo for aaaaaages? Do we need our Matrix sequel to resemble an episode of Enterprise?
It's rhetorical, don't bother: NO. The answer is no.
This is really what kills the movie: it's filled with pointless crap. So much so that it feels essentially pointless itself. Instead of putting so much filler into Reloaded they should have merged it with the, in contrast, near-void Matrix Revolutions to create one epic continuation/conclusion. It's a shame because Reloaded does have its moments and you can tell there's an awesome flick in there somewhere, buried deep below the shitty surface (right next to Zion). I still really like the car chase sequence, in particular the bit with the bike and Morpheus killing those ghost twins which is all kinds of cool because a) it's a samurai sword slicing a car and b) it gets rid of those rubbish CGI ghosts once and for all. Some of the fight scenes are quite decent and Weaving, as hammy as he gets, is always fun. A couple of interesting ideas are brought up which sadly aren't followed through but which, we were promised, would definitely be come Revolutions. And we all know how THAT turned out.
Overall, Matrix Rebloated, sorry, I meant "Reloaded", is a disappointment. As a sequel it feels unnecessary, at no point does it give us any reason as to why it should exist and frankly, a lot of it is unforgivably boring. Every scene in The Matrix had a purpose, every scene introduced us to a cool, fresh idea we had never seen before being tackled in a mainstream sci-fi Hollywood movie. This time though, we're either treading ground we've already covered, going down narrative cul-de-sacs or jumping the shark as high as possible. Vampires? Really? Yeah, be sure to check out Frankenstein's deleted scene on the Blu-ray.
Who designed THAT program?!
Bottom line: if you're watching Reloaded for the lols, you'll find plenty of those, for sure. Otherwise, if it's a smart, innovative Matrix movie you want, there's already one: it's called The Matrix.