Hollywood Shoots Another Load

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It’s happening exactly as before,” sneers Agent Smith dryly. “Well,” chuckles one of his dozens of clones, “not exactly.” Evidently The Matrix Reloaded is not without the sense of irony it needs in the face of ridiculous hype, sky-high media expectations and the cynics waiting to decry it as a cash-in. Without a little tongue-in-cheek self-referential humour, The Matrix Reloaded would suffer far more than it does already from the re-hashing of its prequel’s major talking points, upon which it seems to rely. The main problem with The Matrix Reloaded is its arrogance: the directors seem to have known full well that this sequel is so eagerly anticipated that fans would have bought dog shit if it was stamped with the official ‘Matrix Reloaded’ logo. Unfortunately, this has made them lazy as regards plot coherence, and right from the baffling beginning to the abrupt, anticlimactic ‘ending’ (or rather, cut-off point, the juncture from which the third Matrix film will spring) the audience is pretty much clueless as to what the hell is going on. This, of course, is fine for the vacuous masses who are content to salivate at the truly stunning fight scenes, camera work and the cyber-goth chic of Neo, Trinity et al. The more cerebral cinemagoer, however, is left in a conundrum as he or she tries to unpick the film’s slapdash symbolism and script. Is it a Christian allegory, Neo being the only one who can bring salvation? Maybe it mirrors the profound philosophical content of the first film, touching as it does upon areas as diverse as omniscience, free will and determinism. Perhaps there’s an underlying political message? None of these explanations ring true, and no interpretation can gloss over up the plot holes, which are as glaringly obvious as Keanu Reeves’ inability to act. The Matrix Reloaded relies almost entirely on special effects, and this wouldn’t be a problem if they had something new to show us. Sure, the fighting scenes are a little more daring, there are some new and stylish villains running around, and Neo (Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie Anne Moss) even get a sex scene in – although this is unfortunately the least erotic one I have seen since Eminem’s embarrassing nookie in 8 Mile. This ‘variation’ isn’t enough, however, to save The Matrix Reloaded from ‘sequel syndrome’, so if you are determined to enjoy this film you’d better leave your brain at the door.
ARCHIVE: 4th week TT 2003

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