Matrix Reloaded seems to be the 21st century definition of movies, the perfect bastard art form, if there ever was one.
The movie works and is hugely popular because it has borrowed from every popular form of entertainment: video games, choreographed martial arts, computer generated graphics, graphic novels, hacking lingo, and virtual reality.
This movie is light on linear story telling, heavy on ambitions - call it a light, visual New Age genesis. The official Matrix Reloaded site has a philosophy section, in case you care. And it’s not a bit shy on symbolism when it comes to naming conventions: Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), Trinity ( Carrie-Anne Moss) Oracle, Zion (the last human city) Persephon (Monica Bellucci), and Neo (Keanu Reeves), a hacker who kicks butt in the ultimate Cyberspace, not unlike actual, underground code warriors.
With all that creative borrowing, Matrix Reloaded resembles a minimalist eclecticism. Keanu Reeves should be awarded a prize for minimal acting, if no other prize. Since his Buddha, he has not raised his eyebrows or worked a facial muscle more than twenty times. This age group likes it light, whether it’s a beer or philosophy. It goes down smoother and easier, as a commercial said, and helps to keep the weight down too.
More than in writing a film review or reviewing philosophy 101, however, this writer is interested in the cultural following of Matrix Reloaded. It is a potential cultic caldron - albeit not a boiling one; it is a cold fusion. By cult, I do not mean a crazy pseudo-religious sect, but instead the subject of an extreme level of popularity of the type achieved by Star Trek and Star Wars, whose fans dress like the characters and memorize every bit of dialog.
At the moment there is a wide following for The Matrix and its sequel, but fads rarely last. Matrix Reloaded is obsessed with finding keys and the key master. I would like to present my own set of keys.
M stands for mind. The Matrix begins with Descartes’ elimination of the human body. One wonders, why didn’t he envisage flying like Superman. Every school of philosophy has to start by refuting solipsism. Matrix Reloaded suffers from a case of solipsism overdose.
The first key: the Architect or one of his agents must have injected a hallucinogen into the vat. If the Superman act is done in the mind, why can’t Neo reach Trinity faster in the time of need? the second key: there is a built- in limitation, even in the mental realm.
Movies don’t have to raise epistemological or ontological questions, and they usually don’t. Matrix Reloaded is good entertainment, but it aspires, in so many words, to be taken more seriously, maybe on a different level than what its story allow. Yet it is less intellectual than say, Blade Runner, and less bleak than AI. It is ironic that a film whose entire story happens in the mind is so physical, fleshy. Could it be one of the keys the Architect built into the Matrix: if it is not real, exaggerate to a numbing degree?
The penultimate question: did I like Matrix Reloaded? Not as much as the first Matrix.
The supreme question: will I be in the theaters in November to see the third installment of the Matrix Reloaded? to make sense out of a movie which suddenly stopped playing? Probably yes, the same architect made sure I am as mimetic as the rest of the demographics in the vat.