At a building of some kind, some of the guards are about to leave for the night when they are attacked by rider on a motorcycle. The cycle explodes inside the guard house and the rider reveals herself to be Trinity. After dispatching the guards, Trinity infiltrates the building, only to jump out of the window of a skyscraper. An Agent pursues her and manages to mortally wound her. A body crashes onto an oncoming car, but Neo abruptly wakes up. It is all just a nightmare.
Meanwhile, the Nebuchadnezzar, piloted by Morpheus and its new Operator, Link, find a spot to link into the Matrix.
Inside the Matrix, a woman discusses the Machines beginning an Invasion to Zion with other human resistance fighters. As they argue over the legitimacy of the collected intelligence, Morpheus offers that they need complete the prophecy in order to win the war before it starts. Meanwhile, an uninvited guest tells a guard to give a package to Neo. Neo, sensing trouble, goes to the door and finds that Agents have found their location. Neo fights the Agents and finds that they have been upgraded. He does, however, defeat them all and flies away.
However, Agent Smith, shows up, along with another Agent Smith, and they have a foreboding conversation about things happening again. Neo flies to the old home of The Oracle, and finds that no one is still there. The Nebuchenezzurah continues on its journey back to Zion, and Morpheus is escorted to Commander Locke and the Council of Elders. Locke wants Morpheus arrested, but the Council relents. Neo is accosted by a young man whom he found and “saved,” and soon Neo’s followers are swarming him.
Elsewhere, Link has returned home and finds that his wife, Zee, does not want him on Morpheus’ ship. He assuages her fears. It is here that he find out that Tank (the operator from The Matrix) had died from his wounds from Cypher’s attack. Later that night, there is a large gathering, and Morpheus gives a rousing speech. The Zions break out into the largest club rave underground, and Neo and Trinity have left the party to consummate their love. Neo, unfortunately, has another nightmare, and curls up in Trinity’s arms.
Two human resistance fighters are fleeing from an Agent, and one is given a special note. As he escapes, the Agent turns out to be Smith, and he assimilates the other human resistance fighter, who then returns to his ship. The note turns out to be a message from the Oracle, who is looking for Neo as well. Neo returns to the Matrix, and goes to a Chinese teahouse, where he finds a strange program named Seraph. The two of them fight, as Seraph needed to test Neo’s abilities. Seraph then takes Neo to see the Oracle. The Oracle, as usual, gives Neo very vague advice before leaving him quickly.
Neo is confronted by Agent Smith, who also seems to be giving Neo vague statements. The two of them standoff – until more Agent Smiths start to arrive. Smith tries to assimilate Neo, but is stopped. Neo fights with the Agent Smiths, and finds that while he is more than a match for any 20 of them, they soon overpower him with sheer numbers before he escapes. Neo, however, was given a note by the Oracle, which contains a location that they would need to be at for the next part of their journey.
Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity head to a French Restaurant and meet with The Merovingian, a malevolent program who holds the Keymaker as his plaything. He refuses to give up the Keymaker, and has smugly ended the discussion. His wife, Persephone, however, has had enough of her husband’s antics and decides to help them. In exchange, however, she wants a passionate kiss from Neo – over Trinity’s objections. Neo relents when he sees that he has no other alternative. Once kissed to her satisfaction, Persephone leads them to the Keymaker.
Neo escorts the Keymaker back to the chateau, but is confronted by Merovingian’s men. The Keymaker runs away, and the Ghost Twins chase him. Morpheus and Trinity run to assist the Keymaker, and Neo fights the Marovingian’s men. After a pitched battle, Neo emerges victorious, but the Merovingian escapes.
Morpheus and Trinity fight the Ghost Twins and we find that the Ghost Twins also have special powers. The Keymaker starts a car and Trinity and Morpheus escape the twins. Neo attempts to follow, but is thwarted by the Ghost Twins. As Neo tries to fly back to the city to help his friends, Trinity and Morpheus flee from the Ghost Twins and start a high speed car chase, joined by the Police and the Agents.
The Ghost Twins attack Morpheus and Trinity, and are eventually joined by an Agent, who jumps on the top of their car. Trinity manages to remove the Agent, and Morpheus dispatches the Twin that attacked the car. After a final attack by an Agent, Morpheus and Trinity make it to a bridge, where the Ghost Twins pursue them. Trinity takes the Keymaker and jumps onto a moving tractor-trailer and steals a motorcycle. Morpheus destroys the SUV the Ghost Twins rode in and hitches a ride on the top of another tractor trailer.
An Agent subsumes a truck driver and attempts to crash his truck into Trinity. Trinity however evades the attack and speeds off in the other direction. Morpheus grabs a hold of the Keymaker and has him land on top of one of the trucks. The Agents realize the Keymaker is no longer with Trinity and Agent Johnson jumps on the same truck. Morpheus and Johnson fight, with Johnson eventually punching Morpheus off the truck, only to be saved by a speeding car driven by Niobe. As the Keymaker stalls for time, Morpheus kicks Agent Johnson off the truck. Johnson then takes over the trucker’s body and has the other Agent, who was still in the first truck, make a U-turn and both trucks collide with each other in spectacular fashion. Neo flies in and rescue Morpheus and the Keymaker.
Back in Zion, the Resistance watches the progress of the machines digging their way into the core to reach the human’s base, and we get a firsthand glimpse of how many machines are waiting for the drillers to finish their work. In the Matrix, the Keymaker explains the final steps to reach The Source in order to fulfill The Prophecy. Morpheus makes a plan of action to accomplish this, but Neo tells Trinity not to go into the Matrix. Niobe and Soren were responsible for cutting the power, and Morpheus and Neo would contact The Source. Soren’s ship, the Vigilant, was attacked by a Sentinel carrying a new type of homing bomb, but an accident aboard the ship assured its destruction. Soren and his group died as a result.
When Trinity sees the plan coming apart, she dives into the Matrix and destroys the guard house with her motorcycle. Eerily, the recurring nightmare Neo had was slowly coming true despite his best efforts. Inside the hidden hallway, Neo, Morpheus, and the Keymaker confront Agent Smith, who then has more copies of himself show up. The Keymaker makes it to the end of the hallway and attempts to find the right key to open the door. Trinity has made her way to the power plant control computers and deactivates the power grids all over the city. The grid which protected The Source deactivates a split second before the Keymaker’s key turns the lock which would have blown the building to atoms had the trap been active. Neo grabs Morpheus and flies inside the door just as the Agent Smiths begin firing. As the Keymaker lay dying, he gave Morpheus a key to allow him to return to his ship, and gives Neo the key to open door to The Source.
When Neo turns the key, he is subsumed by a bright light and travels the space of several galaxies in seconds, only to find himself in a large white room surrounded by monitors. Inside the room is an old man who calls himself The Architect. He tells Neo the real history of the Matrix and what Neo’s actual purpose is. Neo is stunned beyond belief and rails against the Architect’s demands. However, the Architect also gives Neo a choice: Save Zion, or attempt to save his girlfriend Trinity from certain death.
Trinity, as it was, continues to fulfill Neo’s prophecy of death. She is pursued by an Agent, and she is unable to defeat him. As a last resort, she jumps out of a skyscraper with guns blazing, and the Agent continues to pursue her. Neo has left the Source and flies with all of his power to reach her. The Agent’s bullet reaches Trinity, striking her in the heart, like in his dream. Neo turns on the afterburners, and reaches Trinity. The ensuing wake kills the Agent in barrage of debris. Neo lands on a building and Trinity dies. Neo reaffirms his love for her and uses his powers to revive her.
Back on the Nebuchadnezzar, Morpheus is at a loss for words concerning the truth about the Prophecy. Before he can continue any dispute, another Sentinel appears, and it too has the new homing bomb. the crew evacuates the ship, and the Nebuchadnezzar is destroyed in the explosion. The Sentinels attack the humans, but Neo now has powers outside of the Matrix. He uses those powers to stop the Sentinels and lapses into a coma. They are rescued by the Mjolnir (The Hammer), who tell them that Locke’s counter-attack plan failed and the ships were destroyed by the Sentinels. In sick bay, a comatose Neo is lying in a bed next to the man whose Matrix body was taken over by Agent Smith.
Review and Analysis:
And, in the space of one movie, the Matrix franchise falls apart completely. From the looks of things, Matrix was supposed to be a one shot deal, but the studio, seeing the money flow in from the first movie, wanted more. So, the sequel was filmed in one shot and split into two movies. There is no coherent theme in Reloaded, nor is there a coherent structure and plot. There are too many new characters that had to be introduced in such a short span of time. The pacing of this movie was disjointed and uneven.
This movie looks like it was two movies that were spliced together, along with rewrites for large action pieces to cover for the lack of coherent story. The writing feels like the movie was originally a sequel to some sci-fi space adventure or military story, superficially altered to fit the overarching theme of the Machines vs. the Humans in The Matrix. But the actual story of Reloaded as it was released is very sparse, and a number of things were stretched to cover for it.
Too Much Combat:
Let’s count the number of action and combat scenes in this movie, shall we?
By my count, there are ten action sequences in this movie alone. And the complexity and visual effects deployed for the sequences rival anything that George Lucas attempted with the Star Wars prequel trilogy, with similar results.
What the Action Pieces Reveal:
I often talk about the problems with plucky rebels, along with the big fights that take place over large population centers. One of the reasons why most movies avoid these kinds of pieces is because there is an aftermath that audiences will note, but never usually acknowledge vocally. The Matrix was supposed to be about a possibility that our own lives aren’t really our own, and that the dystopia is just a computer program working behind the scenes to make any suspicions we may have had seem like mundane thoughts or paranoia. To that end, all of the action sequences in the beginning of the first Matrix film could be explained away.
This is not true of Reloaded in any case. We are not allowed to take in the previous action sequence before we are either treated to a second sequence or a scene that merely serves as an interlude to the next action sequence. Thus, the impact of the previous action sequence is lost. And moviegoers will bore of this very quickly.
Jabba the Merovingian:
There are far too many parallels between these 2 characters. They are underworld bosses who control the shady areas of the realm. They both have something the heroes are looking for. Both hold the powers of the Luke-type character in very little regard. Both have a beautiful woman that they keep under their thumb (although Monica Bellucci is probably considered more sexually attractive than Carrie Fisher was). They live in relative opulence compared to their peers. And both are very smug.
Yoda The Oracle:
Just as Morpheus was supposed to be the Obi-Wan type character, The Oracle was supposed to be Yoda. She’s just as effective as Yoda when it comes to guiding Neo on his cause against The Dark Side The Matrix.
Palpatine The Architect:
Where the Oracle is Yoda, the Architect is the Emperor Palpatine. A relative of mine, however, once commented on how, once again, an old White male sits at the top seat of power. And that, once again, the only one who can remove him from this pedestal is another White male.
But the Architect’s role is to serve up a twist on an M. Night Shyamalan order of magnitude; that the Prophecy is just to reset the anomaly caused by the existence of The One, and that the inhabitants of Zion are to be killed to maintain the population control cycle. So the 250,000 people of Zion are to be put to death because the untold billions of batteries humans hooked in to the Matrix will otherwise be killed.
Because the Machines have been unable to create Service Patch that fixes this anomaly? And it’s happened 5 previous times? Over the last 200 years?
Just How Bad is This Movie?
The Matrix Reloaded is so bad structure-wise that I haven’t even touched on the racial and gender issues of this film until this point. Where The Matrix doesn’t feature any women of color at all, Reloaded tosses us a bunch and tie them all to men in some fashion. Niobe, who is supposed to be the Captain of her own ship, is tied to Morpheus as an ex-girlfriend, but not quite. She was supposedly with Commander Locke, but she spends more time looking at her ex-boyfriend than actually being with Locke.
Note: The Niobe character was created because Jada Pinkett-Smith wanted to be in the movie.
Cass was married to Dozer, and Zee was married to Link, while also being the sister to Dozer and Tank. This was supposed to setup character conflict between Zee and Link. I won’t touch the unintentional intended Nintendo video game reference.
There are no Asian women who play any considerable part in this film anywhere.
Morpheus continues to be the useless add-on, and Trinity spends the entire movie trying to prop up Neo. Both have to be bailed out and rescued repeatedly by Neo, who spends most of his time imitating Superman. When Neo reveals the truth about the Prophecy, Morpheus’ critical thinking shuts completely down. And when his ship is destroyed, he fails to even try to protect his crew…similar to the events of the first movie.
The Matrix Reloaded is what happens when you are given a large budget, studio requests, fan popularity, and no plan for the future. The movie walked away from its stated premise from the moment the opening bumpers finished and the first act opened. It attempted to recreate the feelings generated by the first Matrix movie all the way around and failed to engage the audience as a result. As the movie wears on, it becomes clear that the script tries to ratchet up the heart race with pulse-pounding action by having Don Davis, Juno Reactor, and Rob Dougan create an action-packed score. Although the stunts are well-executed and the CGI/VFX are adequate, they attempt to replace whole scenes, instead of complementing the scene in question, and the scenes themselves add nothing to story. Too many of the characters are directly inspired from the Star Wars franchise, and far too much time is spent with bullets instead of bullet point questions.
Watch The Matrix and then The Matrix Reloaded to see how disjointed the movies are back-to-back. Hopefully, there will be an understanding of how trainwrecks come about.