“The Matrix Reloaded” roars on the screen like a juggernaut, with both the visual power to stun the senses and the philosophical underpinning to tantalize the intellect. It will be discussed for months to come in anticipation of the third Matrix film, “The Matrix Revolutions,” due for release in November.
The first film, “The Matrix,” was released in 1999 and was an instant hit. It gave moviegoers a universe where nothing in the world was real—only an illusion. This illusion was created to cover the fact that machines had taken over the real world and were using millions of humans as a power supply. These humans provided power through their physical connection to the Matrix—a huge supercomputer making the entire known world exist.
Neo (Keanu Reeves) was liberated from the Matrix and told he is the Messiah who will save humans from the tyranny of the machines. At the end of “The Matrix,” Neo declared war on the machines and took up that quest.
“Reloaded” begins this war. The humans are already at odds with themselves over what role Neo can play. Much of the human leadership of Zion, the last human city, does not believe in Neo or the prophecy about him. Neo’s stature is just one way in which the movie explores many theological and philosophical concepts.
The military wants to use conventional methods to defend the city. The lone military leader who does believe in the prophecy is Morpheus (Lawrence Fishburne). His faith is what propels him into the breach of the Matrix again and again. Morpheus holds tightly to the belief that humans will triumph over machines.
The movie proceeds as the people of Zion await word from the Oracle (Gloria Foster) about what will happen in the war. She tells Neo to seek and find the Keymaker, who can unlock the door to the Matrix mainframe.
There are lots of fights, one of the most astonishing car chases ever filmed and more talk of a philosophical and theological nature. The many twists and turns from beginning to end make “Reloaded” an intellectual as well as emotional thrill ride. Many movies in the last several years have been “theme-park-ride” movies—lots of effects and little story. “Reloaded” is not one of those movies. It has so much story that it almost gets lost in all the action.
On the downside, the movie really offers too much exposition. We spend a lot of unnecessary time in Zion. There are all kinds of speeches from Morpheus and Councilman Hamann (Anthony Zerbe) that make the movie drag at the beginning.
But remember: You’re watching essentially half of a whole movie.
Andy and Larry Wachowski, the writers and directors of this movie, made a four-hour movie—then cut it in half to accomplish a couple of things: first, maximize profits, and second, keep audiences from sitting in the theater for four hours. “Reloaded” ends with a cliffhanger and the words “To Be Concluded.”
The space allotted here can’t do justice to the movie’s riches, but they are so vast, they are sure to keep moviegoers busy for months to come.
And that’s good. There has not been a movie that offered these kinds of ideas on such a grand scale in some time. Most will go to see the action, but some will go to see how these two brothers have created a universe using much of the stuff we learned in seminary and in college.
“The Matrix Reloaded” is a thinking person’s movie—with terrific action making it accessible to all.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Burgaw Baptist Church in Burgaw, N.C.
MPAA Rating: R for sci-fi violence and some sexuality
Directors: Larry and Andy Wachowski
Writers: Larry and Andy Wachowski
Cast: Neo: Keanu Reeves; Morpheus: Laurence Fishburne; Agent Smith: Hugo Weaving; Trinity: Carrie-Anne Moss; Oracle: Gloria Foster; Niobe: Jada Pinkett Smith; Zee: Nona Gaye; Lock: Harry Lennix; Link: Harold Perrineau; Persephone: Monica Bellucci; Twins: Neil and Adrian Rayment.
Michael Parnell is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married and has two boys. His love is for movies, and he can be found in a theater most Fridays.