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The Matrix: Reloaded

Mind Candy

Every trilogy is an extended story, one whose scope is (we hope) so broad and epic that it can't be contained in one film. Thus, it must operate within the preordained rules of The Story. It must contain a beginning, a middle, an end.

In the beginning there was The Matrix, and The Matrix was good. There's no denying, however, that much of the strength and popularity of that first installment was the element of surprise. No one knew. In action movies now, the standard seems to be pre- and post-Matrix.

So how, then, will Matrix masterminds Andy and Larry Wachowski follow up on the success of that first installment?

Getting back to the rules of the game, the odds are against The Matrix: Reloaded being as stunning and original as, well, the original. After all, this is the part of the Story which must fulfill that obligation of being the middle film. It has to move us towards the end. Reloaded is the abdomen of the Matrix trilogy, which means that it has to
contain the guts, the wiring of the story. And make no mistake: there is much dialogue, usually one-sided, which moves the story along. Truths are set out, we move along, more truths are revealed. It's often confusing, and there's no time for uestions.

The middle child is a tough role to play. But some are able to rise above. Like another action/Sci-Fi movie that needed to fill that role, The Empire Strikes Back, this second Matrix is able to do just that. Both trilogies rely upon the bad guys at least as much as they rely upon the good guys. Both bear the weight of the Story on their shoulders, but those shoulders are broad. The story comes across slowly at times, but the action that happens in between long-winded exposition is everything we hoped it would be and more. Basically, Reloaded is The Matrix on cocaine.

Reloaded has a multitude of bad guys, and masses of one bad guy in particular. Neo vanquished that stonefaced bastard Agent Smith in the original, but that only set him free. Operating outside of the Matrix like an angry free agent, Agent Smith is back, and this time he's able to copy himself in every person he gets his hands into. Which leads to one of the best fight scenes in the movie, which pits Neo against upwards of sixty Agent Smiths in a city playground.

If you're excited to see Reloaded, chances are it's not the intricacies of the plot that you're dreaming about so much as Carrie-Anne Moss on a Ducati driving against traffic on the freeway, dodging bullets and tractor-trailers driven by
kamikaze-prepared Agents. Hey, there's no shame in wanting to see a great action flick. There's plenty of mind stretching chasing and fighting, some of which nearly comes across as cartoonish. But the Wachowskis are able to pull it off. They have the luxury of operating in a state of perpetual belief suspension, so it's impossible to criticize virtually any of the action. It's just that bad ass.

As far as the plot goes, it could easily make your mind swim if you concentrate too much on it. Like the original, Reloaded is full of layer upon layer of plot twist and metaphysical examination. My advice is this: don't get too bogged down in the actual plot the first time you see it. Acclimate. Track down some friends, purchase a six-pack of cold canned domestic beer, and enjoy the ride. There will be plenty of time to dwell upon the insanely complex plotlines when you see it for the second, third and fourth times.

The Matrix: Reloaded
Rated R
1 hour 51 minutes

Keanu Reeves
Carrie-Anne Moss
Laurence Fishburne
Hugo Weaving
Jada Pinkett-Smith