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Sex and Zen & A Bullet in the Head

. "The Matrix Reloaded"

The makers of one of the most surprising successes in the futuristic action category are now satisfying the legion of fans who have been awaiting the promised sequel. Rarely has a sequel been so intensely anticipated and regarded as so big an event, which magnifies the challenges for writer-directors Andy and Larry Wachowski and producer Joel Silver to come up with a storyline and digital effects that are clearly on the WOW-scale. Gravity and dimension defying tricks are no longer a surprise, so to meet expectations, the sequel needs to step them up a notch for the franchise to continue its trend-setting ways.

In the second chapter of the Matrix trilogy, freedom fighters Neo (Keanu Reeves), Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) continue to lead the people of Zion in defending against the approaching army of Machine destroyers, a seemingly indestructible force programmed into the Matrix. The task for our team is nothing less than to save the human race from extinction. In order to do so, they must gain understanding of the Matrix's purpose and Neo's pivotal role in altering its encoding.

The movie starts with a teaser in which an exceptionally well toned Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) in tight black leathers, attacks an enemy headquarters then escapes a pursuing agent by catapulting into space and taking a bullet. This, it turns out, is a futuristic vision dreamed up by Neo -- one he's most fearful of.

The people assemble in the city of Zion, the last outpost for humans on Earth as they consider the methods of defense against the tentacled soldiers of the machine. Morpheus addresses the congregants with the zeal of a preacher, rousing them and instilling hope that they will prevail. But the strategy is under some controversy as the general who would attempt to defeat them with the limited number of ships under his command wants to deny Morpheus and his team the use of his ship. He doesn't believe the coming war can be one by "The One."

That One is Neo (Keanu Reeves) who, on the emotional side is feeling the intensity of new love with Trinity and, on side of personal fulfillment, has acquired a number of superhuman abilities, though he doesn't yet know how to make use of them in combating the Matrix. "I wish I knew what I was supposed to do," he declares. His quest for that answer brings him to an important consultation with the Oracle who doesn't exactly shed a lot of light on the issue.

Among his many enemies he encounters Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) who has the fascinating ability to make perfect clones of himself. This results in a spatial ballet of Martial Arts between 100 Agent Smiths and Neo, who has a few tricks of his own. Neo comes up against Merovingian (Lambert Wilson), a snobbish boor who refuses to help, but whose stunning wife Persephone (Monica Belluci) helps Neo's and his team, at the cost of a deep kiss (in front of Trinity) to remind her of emotions she once felt for a man. Satisfied by it, she leads Neo's trio to the Keymaker, a tiny Asian (Randall Duk Kim) who has a magical key to everything and understands his role and destiny within the Matrix better than Neo does.

Which makes him, and now Neo, the target of the evil forces, including some very bad shape-shifting albinos. In the grand chase that follow, digital freedom from physical laws unleashes all manner of action dynamics, exhilarating to the max -- a mesmerizing action choreographer's dreamstate.

Neo's quest takes him, ultimately, to the Architect (Helmut Bakaitis), who is no less than the programmer of the Matrix. Nothing here can escape the destiny written into the code, though it has had its bugs and revisions. When he gives Neo a choice of destinies, Neo takes the one that is most human... and most suicidal. Even with greater understanding, will Neo be able to change or affect the inexorability of the program? We'll find that out in chapter 3.

Through a more conventional plotline than in the first session, and hyper-extended speeches by principal characters, there seems to be an attempt to better unveil the mystery of the matrix. This sequel also shows a determination to exceed the level of effects creativity introduced before. For the extended car and truck chase sequence a production freeway was built (at a cost of $2.5 Million) in order to stage it without killing actors or technicians. ($2 Million worth of cars were destroyed).

All departments participate in the hyper-reality. Composer Don Davis (of the first "Matrix") fuses different styles of music from minimalist to tribal dance for his techno-futuristic aural environment. Bill Pope performed the cinematographic feats.

Gross receipts has reached $730 million worldwide, making this the highest-grossing film of 2003 and the highest-grossing R-rated film in history. It is the 12th highest grossing pic worldwide and the first film in history to surpass $100 million in a single weekend internationally. In its collection of records in the U.S., it had the largest single week ever with $158.2 million.
~~ Daily Variety
And... this is our 2nd most read review, registering nearly 11,000 hits

Writer-directors Andy and Larry Wachowski have given us some stylish, jaw-dropping action, extra-dimensional effects and a certain sensitivity factor among our heroes. In addition to those mentioned, Jada Pinkett Smith, at last in a highly conspicuous role, exploits her moment as Niobe, the woman who comes between Commander Lock (Harry J. Lennix) and Neo. In beautiful company, she shines. Monica Bellucci shows she's more than physically ravishing, as this splendid Italian actress has done in all her roles ("Irreversible", "Malena").

Besides the action fans, The Matrix will be best understood by the programming geniuses of all ages who will hook into the scope of the concept and most appreciate the power of the machine. The boring speeches, such as the Merovingian's diatribe, might limit repeat viewings, but there's enough here to amaze and entertain filmgoers of all ages and temperaments... so long as they properly appreciate freedom from gravity.

As Morpheus says, "Free your mind."

See the review of the conclusion, "Matrix Revolutions"

Click for full list of movie reviews

                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

The Soundtrack album

Disc: 1
1. Session - Linkin Park
2. This Is The New Shit - Marilyn Manson
3. Reload - Rob Zombie
4. Furious Angels (Instrumental) - Rob Dougan
5. Lucky You - Deftones
6. The Passportal - Team Sleep
7. Sleeping Awake - P.O.D.
8. Bruises - Unloco
9. Calm Like A Bomb - Rage Against The Machine
10. Dread Rock - Oakenfold
11. Zion - Fluke
12. When The World Ends (Oakenfold Remix) - Dave Matthews Band

Disc: 2
1. Main Title - Don Davis
2. Trinity Dream - Don Davis
3. Teahouse - Juno Reactor Featuring Gocoo
4. Chateau - Rob Dougan
5. Overdrive - Juno Reactor/Don Davis Mona Lisa
6. Burly Brawl - Juno Reactor vs. Don Davis
7. "Matrix Reloaded" Suite - Don Davis

The DVD ("The Matrix Revisited")

The DVD ("The Matrix")

The Game ("Enter The Matrix")

Opinion Section
Comments from readers:
Very Well written
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Site Rating: 8


                                                          ~~ John Doe
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Well written
The review influences me to see this movie & recommend this reviewer
Site Rating: 8

im agreed because [it] would be the same review that i could have written.

                                                          ~~ Ruben Colon
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Well written - Off base
I've seen the movie and I disagree with the review
Site Rating: 6

...the movie (as all comic-book movies are) was a `dumbed down' version of comic book plot (NB So normal people could understand it). Obviously not dumbed down enough for some film reviewers.

                                                          ~~ Earl Leonard

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