The first of the summer blockbusters is with us. For weeks, Carrie-Anne Moss has glowered beautifully from posters on the Underground, '21.05.03', the release date of The Matrix Reloaded, stamped across her coat. Even cooler, a poster of incomprehensible green computer code resolves holographically into Keanu Reeves glowering beautifully as you walk past. I can't wait to see the movie; the trailer, downloadable from whatisthematrix.warnerbros.com, is awesome. The premise of the trilogy is that reality as we know it is a computer-generated illusion: our bodies are all lying in amniotic tanks, batteries for the machines that actually rule the world; our minds plugged into the matrix to keep us alive (no, the science doesn't withstand much scrutiny). In the story so far, our hero, Neo, endearingly played by the ever baffled Reeves, learns the truth courtesy of a mentor dude known as Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and a sexy karate princess called Trinity (Moss). He goes on to fight the forces of evil, chief among them a certain Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), who is endowed with irresistible menace, and in the process undergoes apotheosis, emerging finally as 'the One', to nobody's very great surprise. All of which is of course guaranteed to please the crowds. The style, stunts and special effects, on the other hand, were so far ahead of the game in 1999 that they rewrote the rules of how a certain kind of movie should be made, and are sure to delight the crowds even more. For the sequels to live up to The Matrix will be difficult, and it's small wonder that both were filmed together, part three to be released in November: to be that different three times in a row would surely be impossible - just look what happened to Star Wars.
LRB 22 May 2003 | PDF Download