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Matrix Reloaded

Warning: this page contains spoilers!

In brief, I liked the film - I thought it was decent, and a fun way to spend a couple of hours. However, it could have been better - I was much more interested in the plot developments than the action scenes, which often seemed gratuitous. I can understand why they'd be there, from a marketing point of view, although personally I wasn't hugely impressed by the trailer (Neo running horizontally round a pole and kicking people just reminded me of Xena), so I watched the film on the basis that I'd liked the last one.

I've become a bit more task-oriented recently, so while I watched the action scenes I had two questions in my mind:

  1. What is this person's goal?
  2. How will his current actions help him to achieve that goal?

It's a bit like the cliche where the actor asks "What's my motivation?" In the case of the big dogpile, I was wondering why Neo didn't just fly off about five minutes earlier, after he'd finished speaking to the Oracle. Was he just bored/showing off? I'm not quite clear on what happens to random people when an agent takes over their avatar - do they die/go into a coma/get their avatar blipped to somewhere else? And similarly, what happens if the agent then dies? We certainly haven't seen any evidence that it's going to be beneficial for the people who were "hijacked", so it looks like the only effect of Neo's fight would be to make things worse. Similarly, he seemed to be remarkably cavalier about his high speed flying near the end of the film - what happened to the people in those cars that got spun up in the air? Coming back to the issue of motivation, I wasn't sure why the dreadlock twins were wasting time fighting Morpheus in the car park, since their assignment was to retrieve the keymaker, and they could phase past any time they wanted to. (I could understand him trying to delay them, but not why they'd humour him.)

The film also seems to be a bit vague about how closely people are tied to the normal rules of reality (aside from Neo). I understand the whole "suspension of disbelief" thing, and I'm willing to do that, but I do need to know what the ground rules are. For instance, if they said "Being shot in the Matrix isn't a problem, because your real body is intact", that's fine. Or if they said "Being shot in the Matrix is a problem, because your mind believes you've been injured", that's also fine. But they need to pick one. It wasn't actually the shooting I was confused about, but other aspects (that's just a simple example of the general principle). For instance, even if Trinity had dodged the bullets, would she still have gone splat when she hit the ground? Or how about when Neo scooped her up at high speed - would that have snapped her spine? I was similarly a bit dubious about the motorbike jumping off the top of the truck (especially when they didn't unchain it first!) - it seems like you'd need a lot of acceleration in a short space of time, particularly since you'll be slowing down as soon as you're airborne, whereas the truck won't... Again, I have no problem with the idea of a "magic" bike that can fly etc., but they seemed to be suggesting that this bike was bound by the normal rules of the environment. On the other hand, I didn't have a problem with them zipping through oncoming traffic - that looked plausible, if you're a good enough rider (which I'm not!).

Having a clifffhanger is a bit of a cheat, but at least it's not too long until the next film. And since it's already been made, I know that I'll get to see the resolution.

On the positive side, I really liked the idea of Neo's predecessors, and the vampire/werewolf guards who were left over from a previous version of the Matrix. Silver bullets are normally associated with werewolves, but I think that silver in general used to be considered an anti-vampire technique. This is one theory for why vampires don't have a reflection - mirrors used to have silver behind the glass. It would normally be a sword/knife, rather than a bullet, but there are stories about vampires being killed by silver (including some recent ones). In the case of the film, it was a little vague, but it may be significant that the guys were watching a vampire film in the background.

The backdoor concept was quite nifty too. I also liked the idea of sentient programs being able to "retire" once they were replaced by an upgrade. It reminded me of a scene from Star Trek: Voyager, where the Doctor was fantasising about the hero's welcome he'd recieve, if/when the ship ever returned to the Alpha Quadrant, but Seven of Nine just said "It's more likely that they'd simply overwrite your program with the latest version."

Also, I was reminded of the novel Fallen Angels, where the astronauts (who have reflexes conditioned to freefall) get into trouble on Earth, when they neglect to allow for gravity. It struck me that Neo could actually be a liability in the "waking world", since he's used to having God-like powers. Mind you, based on events near the end of the film, I do wonder whether they're going for the standard 13th Floor twist, i.e. he's still inside the Matrix (or at least a Matrix).

On a random note, I assume that Trinity is supposed to look really sexy in her leather outfit, but I really don't see the appeal - she just looked really gaunt to me. But I guess tastes vary...

This page was last updated on 2003-12-29 by John C. Kirk

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