Let's get something clear before I begin - I love The Matrix, love it, one of the greatest films of all time without a doubt. The reason I mention this is that some of the reviews being critical of this (and the abysmal second sequel) are being critical of the Matrix trilogy. So, Reloaded. This film follows the surviving members of the original crew from the first film; as a massive machine army works its way toward the last human city of Zion, Morpheus feels certain that Neo's fate will soon be realized, Trinity and Neo struggle to deal with his new-found messianic fame whilst maintaining any sort of relationship, and the mysterious return of Smith prompts the search for 'the keymaker' a program who may be able to lead Neo to his destiny (or at least show him the door). So, the plot sounds just as strange and action-scene-ready as the first doesn't it? Wrong. The story ranges from horribly convoluted to barely sensible, with the philosophical edges so beyond our comprehension I still have no idea what it's about thematically. As for the storyline, well I can sort of follow it but it's not really that interesting, complicated yes, but not interesting, there is no Cypher-like twist here, only slow progression down a bizarre road with no interruption or change of stakes. This far it sounds like a one-star review, that's because the film has a one-star plot. It's the action that saves this film, and even that's not as good as the last film. The action comes a lot more in Reloaded, a good thing since the plot's rubbish and there's no character development of any kind. The first movie's claustrophobic old hallways and desperate chases have been replaced with wide arenas and full blown battles as Neo's powers now allow him to take agents head on and the other characters are forced into the open. The action scenes are for the most part great, the directors have become very ambitious and it's a good thing, with two stand-out scenes as Neo fights a private army of 'rejected programs' around and with a collection of medieval weaponry or when Trinity and Morpheus battle agents and ghosts (don't ask) whilst protecting the Keymaker and doing ninety down the freeway. But there's something missing, something essential they've forgotten; these fights are just way too clean. In the Matrix people bled, got covered in dust and debris and blows really felt like they hurt, here no-one really bleeds (except that one time), blows knock people back but don't seem to hurt at all, and there's not much of a sense of danger. So while the action scenes are brilliantly choreographed and constructed, they're essentially soulless. What more can I say? It's got an OK but not very interesting plot that just becomes incomprehensible whenever it tries to be smart. It's got well done but soulless action scenes. It's a reasonable action movie that I watch from time to time and would be fine if only it didn't carry with it inevitable comparison to it's predecessor. This is reasonable as an action film, but as a sequel it's deeply disapointing. If you've not seen it it's worth a look but don't expect the originals quality.
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