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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 May, 2003, 13:08 GMT 14:08 UK
Matrix sizzles but does not stir
Helen Bushby
By Helen Bushby
BBC News Online entertainment staff in Cannes

The Matrix Reloaded has finally arrived, having built up millions of eager fans after the success of the first Matrix movie in 1999.

This film is a sizzling visual extravaganza, bombarding you at terrifying speed with myriad special effects and strangely beautiful fight sequences.

The Matrix Reloaded is the first of two sequels
It follows straight on from the first movie, which saw Neo (Keanu Reeves) choose to leave the mind-control of the Matrix, into which the rest of the unconscious human race is plugged, to pursue "truth and choice".

He finds himself labelled as "The One" who will save humanity from obliteration, and embarks on a mythical quest while pondering deep questions on life, death and the universe.

But somehow Reloaded lacks the punch of the first film - it has a lot to live up to and ultimately the let-down is in the script, which plods in places.

Fantastic

There is no doubt that all of the actors and effects wizards have excelled themselves - Carrie-Anne Moss' motorbike stunt sequence beats any rollercoaster ride and Reeves' kung fu somersaults are breathtaking.

Hugo Weaving, who famously lip-synched as a drag queen in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, is fantastic as the dastardly Agent Smith, who mutates hundreds of times as he fights Neo.

But while the complex plot moves on apace, taking Neo and his compatriots Trinity (Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) deeper into the Matrix, the dialogue lets them down with too many platitudes.

The Matrix Reloaded

They include such gems as "what do all men with power want? More power" and "you do not truly know someone until you fight them".

These lines are said with such gravitas and seriousness and usually a long pause afterwards, as if they are offering the audience mind-blowing revelations, which is hardly the case.

This is a shame, as the plot is still fairly engrossing, with "machines" which look like metal jellyfish threatening to destroy the human race, which is based in a place called Zion.

Neo goes from one mythical character to the next, from the Oracle to the Keymaker to the Architect, draw whatever religious parallels you like, while trying to save Trinity from impending doom.

Cliffhanger

He also encounters Persephone (Monica Bellucci) who avoids the action sequences, perhaps due to her impossibly tight rubber dress, and her lethal husband Merovingian (Lambert Wilson), who does a great comic turn when he swears in French.

Despite the lapses in the script, it is still worth seeing, not least because it ends on a cliffhanger which paves the way for the final sequel on 5 November, when all the plot questions will be answered.

It is also guaranteed to be one of the biggest hits of the summer.

It will make millions for the masterminds of the movie, writers and directors Andy and Larry Wachowski, who can sit back and watch the profits roll in.




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