Film (2003). Warner Bros. Pictures in association with Village Roadshow Pictures and NPV Entertainment presents a Silver Pictures production. Andy (now Lilly) Wachowski and Larry (now Lana) Wachowski. Cast includes Laurence Fishburne, Gloria Foster, Carrie-Anne Moss, Keanu Reeves, Jada Pinkett Smith and Hugo Weaving. 133 minutes. Colour.
As the machines burrow towards the human underground city of Zion, Neo and his associates re-enter the Matrix to find that a resurgent and now autonomous Agent Smith has acquired new powers of viral possession and self-multiplication, while Neo's role as the One is not to overthrow the machines but to reboot the Matrix and refresh the status quo as a periodically necessary element of a cycle that has already seen five iterations.
The centrepiece of the Matrix franchise's sequel rollout met with an understandably mixed reception. Faced with the challenge of following up The Matrix (1999)'s narrative of Conceptual Breakthrough with something comparably compelling, the Wachowskis opted for a combination of epic future warfare with ramped-up Virtual Reality action and mystagogic secondary revelations. The result is a deeply eccentric patchwork of innovative spectacle action and radically interminable monologues which seem deliberately to challenge the modern viewer's patience with exposition as a mode of performance. The sequences of Neo's combat with self-replicating armies of Smiths provide the trilogy's most enduring images, but the attempt to develop the chemistry between Neo and Trinity, so iconic in the first film as individual action leads, into a passionate romantic bond proves badly misconceived, and the film offered little of its predecessor's purchase for philosophical and cultural-theoretical reflection, except as an instrument of the very machine narratives from which the first film seemed to promise liberation. The film ends in mid-air, its weak cliffhangers resolved in the sequel The Matrix Revolutions (2003). [NL]
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