On a rewatch after a long long time, there’s a lot going right with this sequel. It’s the logical and philosophical deep-dive into a real-world that we don’t know, and that part works.
The bigger action is also indubitably ground-breaking and impressive for a time when CGI technology was going through what we might call puberty.
You can certainly see how this has paved the way with many a set-piece we’ve seen since, whether it be Inception, Transformers, Man of Steel, Pacific Rim, even Mad Max: Fury Road.
Incidentally, these things that worked, it has in common with its predecessor. Where it begins to falter is where things changed.
The Matrix answers most of the questions it put forward to the audience. Reloaded asked more questions than it answered. The cliffhanger was certainly one that would need a good one. A Frenchman, His Mistress, The Keymaker, Smiths, Twins. It got a bit carried away to the point of being a bit unnecessarily convoluted.
In its defence, it was the first in a two-parter, so some of this was *inevitable.*
A larger problem was the fear and threat within the Matrix world was gone. While Morpheus and Trinity despite being badasses themselves, used to run for their lives at the sight of agents, now they’re constantly up for a fight with agents as well as newer beings even more powerful.
This brings me to a problem it shares with Tenet. The beautiful set-pieces strung together feel forced, giving the sense they worked backwards from what visuals they wanted to explore to how they could fit the story.
Two examples instantly flag up.
1) Neo vs Smiths. He could have flown away straight away. A few minutes in, he does anyway. What was the point, aside from “that’d be cool”. Had the fight been about discovering how he was back, why he was able to replicate, even Smith(s) standing between him and something he was trying to achieve, would’ve made sense. As it is, you could practically remove it and lose no plot.
2) The Freeway Chase. Here they had the goal at least. They needed an exit. We’re told that they are in some nook of the matrix where the closest one is on the freeway and that it’s a suicide mission. Guess we’ll have to take their word for it. The first film did a good job of showing all the fear and threat of antagonists first-hand. This, meh, not so much.
Overall, did I enjoy it?
Then and now both. Hell yeah.
Except for this time I knew… what was coming next.