Film Review © 2003 by Trip Reynolds

Science Fiction

Directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski; Screenplay by Andy and Larry Wachowski; Produced by Joel Silver; Executive Produced by Andy and Larry Wachowski, and Bruce Berman, Dan Cracchiolo, Andrew Mason, Barrie M. Osborne, and Erwin Stoff.

Starring Keanu Reeves (as the human Messiah and hero against the computer-based artificial universe of "The Matrix," Neo), Laurence Fishburne (as Neo's mentor, sage and pseudo-prophet, Morpheus), Carrie-Anne Moss (as Neo's paramour, Trinity), Hugo Weaving (as the absolute best movie bad guy since Darth Vader, Agent Smith), Gloria Foster [as the mysterious computer-based prophet, Oracle (hum, is this a subliminal "product placement" from Larry Ellision, CEO of Oracle Corporation?)], Joe Pantoliano (as Cypher), Marcus Chong (as Tank), Paul Goddard (as Agent Brown), Robert Taylor (as Agent Jones), Anthony Zerbe (as Councillor Hamann), Randall Duk Kim (as The Keymaker), Harry J. Lennix (as Niobe's current lover and Morpheus' boss, Commander Lock), Jada Pinkett Smith (as Morpheus' former lover, and Captain of her own ship, Niobe), Harold Perrineau Jr. (as a member of Morpheus' crew and Zee's husband, Link), Nona M. Gaye (as Link's wife, Zee), Alima Ashton-Sheibu (as Link's Niece), Joshua Mbakwe (as Link's Nephew), (World Heavy Weight Champion) Roy Jones Jr. (in a cameo role as Ballard), Daniel Bernhardt (as Agent Johnson), David Kilde (as Agent Jackson), Matt McColm (as Agent Thompson), and Cornel West (as Councillor West).

A major film critic calls the "Matrix" film franchise the "Star Wars for the current generation." Wow, for someone to believe the "current generation" is so stupid is, well, very disappointing. As with the first film in this trilogy, the script is stupid and, consequently, if you apply any common sense to this mess it's just painful to watch. Again, "eye candy" special effects do not replace or compensate for a dumb script.

This review will remind you of my review of, "The Matrix" which is no accident. As with the formula of a Bond film, here again is another film franchise that continues to repeat itself and, unfortunately, this review must cover the same ground! Again, it's really this simple: Neo - and all humans - are NOT limited to thinking within any perimeters and, most importantly, humans are exempt from the confines of "0's and 1's" of the computer-based artificial universe of the matrix. Humans have imagination! Get it? So, why didn't at least one imaginative human simply enter the matrix and detonate an imaginary 1,000, 000,000,000 (one trillion!) kiloton thermonuclear device designed to completely obliterate all existing computers and replace them with a computer network solely under the control of humans? Da! Oops, end of the first movie, and end of the film franchise before it begins.

Instead, we get an updated version of Neo (hum, Neo 2.0?) with pseudo-Superman flying abilities and a retread of his pseudo-Bruce Lee martial art skills. Hey, Neo, instead of flying why not just teleport from one location to another, afterall everything in "The Matrix" computer-based artificial universe is thought driven so why not start thinking for a change? Instead, we're treated to endless fight scenes and, for the most part, "eye candy" special effects. Film is analogous to having a date with an extremely attractive man or woman, but soon discovering your date has atrocious bad breath, fake body parts, can't dance, can't hold an intellectual conversation, and is a lousy lover. Just one big disappointment after another.

"Eye candy," is what "The Matrix" delivers and, for a break between action sequences, a few unnecessary subplots had been added. One subplot involves Morpheus' former lover, Niobe (played stoically by Jada Pinkett-Smith); another involves Neo's reoccurring dream about the death of his lover, Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss); and another involves a keymaker (played by seasoned actor Randall Duk Kim), who can unlock a door with vital answers to the gobbledegook mystery of the matrix. When the secret of the matrix is revealed to Neo the plot (if ever there was one) becomes even more ridiculous.

The ensemble cast generally performs above the material, especially Laurence Fishburne as Neo's mentor, sage and pseudo-prophet, Morpheus. With the threat to human existence even more dire than the first film, Morpheus assumes greater responsibility as both maverick and leader. But script falls apart repeatedly. For example, if a human dies in "The Matrix" they in turn die in the real world. So, why then do humans - who KNOW "The Matrix" is an imaginary bunch of "0's and 1's" take this would so seriously? Why doesn't everyone engage "The Matrix" with omnipotence and invulnerability? Neo could "think" his lover back to life (yes, I gave the ending away), but he's unable to "think" of an imaginary 1,000, 000,000,000 (one trillion!) kiloton thermonuclear device designed to completely obliterate "The Matrix" and free humans from computer domination? For a better confrontation between humans and computers please revisit Arnold Schwarzenegger's "The Terminator," from 1984, and "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," from 1991, and "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," an upcoming 2003 release. Or, for films that involve humans entering a "Matrix-like" computer universe take another look at the virtual realities of "Tron," from 1982, and "The Lawnmower Man," from 1992.

I was hoping Neo and his crew would drop a thermonuclear device in "The Matrix 2" to defeat Agent Smith and his computer universe, and thereby require the script to become more challenging, and far more creative in imagining a post-apocalyptic human existence. It didn't happen. In this regard, "The Terminator" film franchise will likely perform much better in presenting an imaginative post-apocalyptic human existence.

Film is directed episodically by the Wachowski brothers, Andy and Larry.

Film has an evenly paced running length of 136 minutes, but would benefit if trimmed by at least 16 minutes.

Recommendation: It's strictly a cable movie!