The intensely private 30-something and erstwhile enigmatic Wachowski brothers made their feature debut in 1996 with the marvellous Bound. Amazing, isn’t it? Virtually no-one, including the brothers themselves, refer to it much. Bound, of course, will always shine brightly on many a lesbian’s top five pics of all time list but it seems so far away, now that the brothers Wachowski have popped the red pill and undertaken The MatrixÂ journeys.
It is always going to be difficult for film-makers to make a sequel as great and quirky as the original and none more so than The Matrix, considered a classic of its genre, accompanied by considerable world-wide iconic status. Some would say that the odds of lightning striking the same place twice would be greater. So it was not entirely surprising that the anticipation of what happens down the rabbit hole in part two is rewarded by narrative fuzziness and a bloated, overblown budget where one 17-minute battle scene cost US$40 million and the special effects budget exceeded US$100 million.
This time around, the film-makers want The Matrix and its philosophical/theological doctrine to be taken seriously. The Wachowskis are serious and therein lies the rub. The film believes in its own hype with such an intensity that the audience is almost an afterthought. Reloaded sees the Keanu Reeves character Thomas Neo Anderson morphing from computer hacker to Messiah with superman qualities. Yet funnily enough, in order to be portrayed as human in contrast to the machines and although he is dressed like a high priest, he often looks dumbstruck and confused struggling with the choice of saving humanity or his girlfriend. Now that’s a choice!
Neo is supported by Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus who has also morphed from a military commander to a type of spiritual leader. Carrie-Anne Moss is back as Trinity, the sizzling love interest who somehow manages to look anxious and drawn throughout the whole film. Maybe breaking a leg in training and the daily fear of dying during the filming of the car chase segment didn’t help. Hugo Weaving appears again as Agent Smith and the great Gloria Foster, who sadly died before ReloadedÂ was finished, returns with a bright touch as the Oracle. To this mix are added new characters including Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe, the only female commander; Monica Bellucci as Persephone, wife of Merovingian, played with flair by Lambert Wilson; the albino evil twins Neil and Adrian Rayment; and our own Anthony Wong as Ghost. There are a host of other Australian cameos too, like the supreme councillor of Zion played by a very cheesy Robyn Nevin.
Somehow Reloaded feels like a filler between The Matrix and RevolutionsÂ and is delivered in a very hit and miss style. Despite the considerable talents of Yuen Wo Ping, the fight scenes are way too long and choppy to be considered classic Kung Fu. The already wafer-thin plot is over-stretched at 140 minutes and is dragged down by the pretentious philoso-babble the characters have to mouth. The special effects are spectacular but oddly, for all the money and 500 digital artists, they look like CGI.
At times, Reloaded almost assumes biblical proportions. The tribal dancing in Zion could have been lifted straight from The Ten Commandments. Even though Neo and Trinity can’t keep their hands and lips off each other, it all seems emotionless and fake. Still, we must remember that above all Reloaded is pure popcorn and will satisfy those happy to watch a film which travels like a bumpy amusement park ride and who don’t care about originality, logic or script. The outfits and sunglasses areÂ sexy though.