Here's to you Mr. Anderson
I remember seeing "The Matrix Reloaded" when it first came out, I remember watching it on DVD when I brought "The Matrix" trilogy but I barely remembered anything about it when I re-watched it recently. In fact I only remembered one moment of action and that was it. What does this mean, well sadly it means "The Matrix Reloaded" is nowhere near as good as "The Matrix" as it swaps a thought provoking storyline for far fetched nonsense and relies on the stylized action to wow you, which it doesn't always achieve.
About 6 months after Neo (Keanu Reeves - Speed) learned that he was The One, he begins to have sleepless nights as he keeps on having nightmares about Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss - Chocolat) plunging to her death. At the same time all the rebels have returned to Zion where they learn that 250,000 sentinels are tunnelling their way down in an attempt to destroy Zion and wipe out the human resistance. In order to learn what he must do Neo visits the Oracle (Gloria Foster) and learns that he must first find the key master and then seek out the source. If he fails to complete his mission Zion will be wiped out and the machines will have won.
One of the great things about "The Matrix" was whilst is was fantasy it sowed a see of thought into your head over whether or not reality was in fact reality. Having done that the storyline to "The Matrix Reloaded" struggles to come up with something equally as thought provoking. So what we get is Neo wanting answers, the safe haven of Zion under attack from Sentinels on the surface and basically a lot of convoluted confusion. That's the thing, the storyline comes over a little messy as it strives to deliver this complex twisting web of intrigue building up to the third movie "The Matrix Revolutions". And as history has shown, using a second movie as purely a building block for another movie rarely works and it certainly doesn't here.
Part of the issue is that to develop a storyline it's trying to be clever, creating little sub plots leading to something bigger. But in trying to be clever it becomes almost too complex and more importantly convoluted. You honestly give up caring about the storyline half way through as it becomes too messy to follow and that is a huge shame. The tight storyline in "The Matrix" was part of the reason why it was so good, now with "The Matrix Reloaded" it almost borders on the daft as it relies on the special effects driven action to wow you.
As such "The Matrix Reloaded" is packed full of big action sequences, bringing back the revolutionary 360 degree slow motion camera techniques and using them to the point of almost overkill. There is barely an action sequence which isn't embellished using this technique and by the end it sort of feels boring, as if they'd given us too much of a good thing. Aside from the overuse of the special effects it also seems like there are more, longer action sequences with Neo taking on numerous Agent Smith's and the freeway chase scene being two examples of major set pieces which whilst impressive are also seriously over long. You almost get a feeling that these two set pieces were the focal points of the movie and as such the rest of the movie suffers.
And in trying to build on the story we get a lot more characters, there are ghostly twins, more rebels and a whole community of people living in Zion. But none of them are memorable except for the returning trio of Morpheous, Trinity and Neo. Thankfully Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss and Keanu Reeves carry on delivering the impressive performances that they gave the first time around, making their scenes all fun to watch even if what is going on is a little, actually seriously convoluted.
One thing which really didn't work for me is the romantic storyline between Neo and Trinity which leads to the sexing up of "The Matrix Reloaded". Now I am no prude, naked flesh doesn't offend me, but the almost drug induced dance scene which intertwines with Neo and Trinity getting it on just feels wrong. With naked flesh on show, from those dancing it just feels rather tacky and out of place.
What this all boils down to is that "The Matrix Reloaded" whilst a disappointment compared to "The Matrix" will still please audiences who only want a visual experience and don't care about a coherent storyline. It is a second movie which acts as a building block to a third so there are elements left floating but even so the cleverness of "The Matrix" is lost as it becomes overly complex and convoluted.