Ingenious take on a universal theme

- Ben Bernales -
Film review: Matrix Reloaded

Quite an unusual stir did the wily Wanchowski brothers trigger on the movie world four years ago with the release of their incisively innovative sci-fi thriller Matrix.

Its aesthetic vision of a dark dystopia is like no other previously seen. Its virtual reality befuddles its superhero in addition to his unexpected awareness of man’s subservience to machines.

Its effect on filmmakers and fans alike was astounding, spawning in its trail parodies as well as outright imitation of its special effects or even narrative copycats.

Comes now its sequel or rather two sequels which as reported in promotions literature were filmed simultaneously.

The first of the pair opened with much fanfare (TIME cover, premiere at the Cannes film festival and simultaneous worldwide showing in many capitals including Manila). The second is scheduled to open in November to complete the trilogy.

Actually, Matrix Reloaded is a cliffhanger in that it has "to be concluded" with The Matrix Revolutions.

Viewers who joined the rush to be among the first to catch the first sequel without first reading its advance publicity fare were surprised to learn about the six-month-long intermission.

On a purely literal level, the hugely-hyped Matrix Reloaded depicts how the movers and shakers of a programmed system inhabited by humans leading a subterranean existence are at wit’s end on how to avert an assault obliterating them by an army of machines.

How successful are the frenzied attempts to forestall the extinction of the cave dwellers of Zion is hard to ascertain since the film’s conclusion is revealed in the last sequel yet to be shown six months hence.

Since the brothers Wanchowski have steadfastly avoided the press refusing to be interviewed about their opus, any serious effort at a definitive deconstruction about it would at best be a heroic foray into an hermeneutic with an eye closed and/or an ear plugged, even though with an open mind.

Even so, one can try.

Thematically, the movie is an ingenious take on the universal theme of Good Versus Evil. The former is promoted by the leaders of the cast of characters Neo, his fiancée Trinity and mentor Morpheus. With their supporters they battle with the likes of Agent Smith, Merovingian et al.

The plot is developed through a series of fast-paced scenes with a cyclic sequence of intense verbal exchanges first, then a flurry of action with a variety of weapons. In the process, the prowess of Neo and his chums as well as his nemeses is displayed in well-choreographed fight scenes far more intricate than those shown in kung fu films. One gasps in wonder how the superhero can outdo a multitude of opponents singlehanded.

Histrionically, Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne gave a far more subtly-nuanced performance in earlier fiilms as called for by their roles, particularly the latter in Othello.

A striking standout in the film is the svelte Italian actress who portrayed Persephone, who betrays her own crafty, malevolent husband Merovingian, played by Lambert Wilson. She is Monica Bellucci, last seen in Tears in the Sun, opposite Bruce Willis.

In this movie, which is predominantly green and black, Bellucci provides much-needed color in her brief scene – attired as she is in a shimmering figure-hugging gold-hued shift. Her kissing scene with Neo in front of Trinity packs a wallop that can induce the latter’s jealousy.

The scenes of orgy among the subterraneans juxtaposed with the torrid lovemaking of Neo and Trinity can raise the viewers’ temperatures, justifying the censors’ classification to limit it to adolescents and those beyond.

Cinematography is highly competent; so is the music. The direction can’t be any finer.












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