By William Wolf

THE MATRIX RELOADED  Send This Review to a Friend

Speculation has been rampant on the expected summer action and special effects battle between "The Matrix Reloaded" and "X2." Artistically, "The Matrix Reloaded" wins hands down. Not only are the special effects more dynamic, but even allowing for plot confusions that can baffle the uninitiated, there is more intelligence at work in the screenplay by Andy and Larry Wachowski, the brothers who also shared directing duties. Their film, the second in their projected trilogy, comes across as the world's biggest movie computer game.

Fans can enjoy reading all sorts of philosophical ideas into "The Matrix Reloaded," and that may be a case of overload. But just viscerally the exploits and intricacies involved are constant attention-grabbers. On the more obvious level the story involves the battle between computer domination of humans and the efforts of humans to free themselves from the machines and potential oblivion. Accordingly, the film is replete with all sorts of computer references and manipulations. For an audience it is like virtually entering computer complexity and trying to follow the resulting action and high-risk adventures of assorted characters either entrapped or on the attack.

The visual effects are dazzling, and the cast seems entirely in tune with them. Laurence Fishburne cuts a strong figure as Morpheus, who clings to his faith in what he sees as the ultimate outcome. Keanu Reeves is the hero Neo, the potential savior of humans, and Carrie-Anne Moss is a force as Trinity, whom Neo loves. He is ready to risk all for her and she'll risk anything to try to save him. Hugo Weaving plays the determined agent Smith, ever in pursuit of Neo and his allies.

The Wachowski brothers pack the film with inventive action, whether Neo is flying around like Superman or we're given a freeway car chase to top all car chases. There seems nothing one can't do today with computer effects, and "The Matrix Reloaded" piles it on from start to finish. Others in the cast include Jada Pinkett Smith, Gloria Foster, Monica Bellucci, Nona Gay, Randall Duk Kim, Harry Lennix, Harold Perrineau, Adrian Rayment and Neil Rayment.

Inevitably some may wonder what the hell is going on, while others may think they are taking a graduate course in philosophy. Whatever, there's plenty happening, and the film ends amusingly with a set-up that points inevitably to the third film due in the series. A Warner Bros. release.


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