Thursday, May 22, 2003


By Reymundo Salao
The Guardian, May 22, 2003

MATRIX RELOADED is the second installment in the trilogy of THE MATRIX, which was indeed originally intended to be a three-part saga, much like the Star Wars trilogy. Quite incidentally, The Matrix has been branded by many critics as "the new Star Wars", for it is a film that has become an icon not only in the science-fiction genre but of motion picture history. The first Matrix movie tells of how Neo discovers the truth that the world he lives around him is merely a simulation designed to deceive human beings, turning them into power sources for the ruling A.I.s (Artificial Intelligence) that have, in fact, taken over the world as we know it. And on this sequel, the struggle of the surviving human race continues as Neo unlocks the doors that reveal the answer, the doors that will guide the chosen one to save the human race.

The story begins with the revelation that the Sentinels, the cybernetic A.I.s programmed to hunt the human rebels, are drilling a tunnel that will lead them to Zion, the remaining human city that exists underground. Desperate to find a means to end the war before the Sentinels could even reach Zion, Morpheus, Trinity and Neo, who is now the chosen one destined to be mankind's savior, seeks out the Keymaker. They are all brought to a building where there is a room that leads to the source of the Matrix's system. Once Neo is inside, he discovers the secrets of the Matrix, unraveling the many truths about the past and the future. Ultimately, he has to make a bitter choice, and when he does, the war would only be drawn close. So then, shall we await the Matrix Revolutions.

I am reminded of one catchy line from the first film, when Morpheus says "Nobody can be told what the Matrix is, you'd have to see it for yourself". The point of this line holds true for the second film, for there are many secrets revealed and events that get to be understood first-hand as told by the film's storytelling. To put details on this review would only give out spoilers on the story. The thing about this sequel, though, is its philosophical point of view. The concept of the Matrix carries with it a subliminal message of man's freewill and the forces that surround this freewill. Matrix Reloaded elaborates upon this concept of man's freewill with many levels of thought. The concept of choices, which was discussed by Neo and the Oracle, and the other incident that gave drama to the climax. The concept of love and what one risks in the name of it. And the concept that mankind has lived and survived in a society that has to have its freewill, to the point that there must be an inevitable presence of disobedience and hostility. There were even little poetic discourses, when Agent Smith talks about the sense of purpose that Neo took away from him, and the principles of cause and effect as lectured by a new villain. Matrix Reloaded is very thought provoking that paying attention to the storyline was far more interesting than the fight scenes.

Just because this film has a smart storyline, doesn't mean that it is dull and lacked action. On the contrary, the fight scenes were numerous and spectacular. To martial arts fans, this film is a delight to watch, more kung-fu and rebel-versus-agent action. Like a double-bladed knife, if Matrix Reloaded doesn't impress you with its impressive storyline, the action will indeed satisfy. The only problem with Matrix Reloaded is that it has become a victim its own style of filmmaking. Ever since the first Matrix film came out, many, if not almost all, of the action movies tried to copy the unique style, specifically, the ground-breaking "Bullet-time" style of motion picture photography. From "Charlie's Angels" to "The Transporter", to "The One", and even "Shrek", movies tried so hard to capture the feel of The Matrix. So much so that many of the action scenes seem to be spoofing itself. Spoofing the very style it revolutionized. The use of slow motion and bullet-time didn't look as impressive anymore. Why? Other films have been using it all too often that seeing the scenes offers nothing new to excite the mind. In addition, the trailers have spoiled the supposedly-exhilarating scene where Agents Smith is able to copy himself, creating instant clones that serve as armies fighting Neo. Surely, the steamy ,sexy scenes will entice viewers, ensuring no moment of boredom.

The character of Hugo Weaving, Agent Smith has become a favorite that whenever he goes after Neo, he manages to deliver witty lines that make audiences cheer. Laurence Fishburne was able to have a more elegant fight scene and gets to deliver an inspiring scene that moves the people of Zion. An addition to the Matrix cast, Jada Pinkett-Smith who plays Niobe, a former love interest of Morpheus, doesn't play a very major role, but keeps us interested perhaps until the third film where we assume that she will have a more prominent role. Keanu Reeves who plays Neo, and Carrie-Anne Moss who play Trinity, as before, did a fine job portraying a more colorful role as their characters have been given more depth and perspective, especially as Neo is torn between the pressure of his duties as "The One" and her love for Trinity.

Although some opinions may bend to the thought of this film not getting up to the degree and the impact of the first Matrix movie, it still doesn't lag behind to become disappointing. In fact, Matrix Reloaded fit the satisfaction of the fans. It delivers, like any trilogy, and it is there to await and to pave the way for the movie in its trilogy entirety. So until the next sequel, let us keep ourselves plugged-in. And while we eagerly await for the conclusion to the saga, we're pretty sure that…
The Matrix has you…

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