Reloading has happened. Warner Bros. heads into summer full-throttle with The Matrix Reloaded, starring Keanu Reeves, who reprises his role as brooding post-modern prophet Neo in the second installment of The Matrix trilogy, which opened this week. With the film destined to be the one to crack a creative whip at the box office—the original banked more than $450 million worldwide—GT looked behind the scenes of directors Andy and Larry Wachowski’s cult phenomenon and unearthed some Matrix matter for the brain. Plug in time:
Plot Points: Six months have passed since the 1999 installment. Not sure what happened? In a nutshell, what audiences believed to be a latter-day 20th century existence was, in reality, “unreality” imposed upon humanity by the gaggle of Uber machines trying to take over the planet. (Rent it and get 411’d!) In Reloaded, Neo (Reeves) accepts his role as “The One” and will assume greater command of his power as his fellow human rebels brace themselves to protect their underground lair, Zion—250,000 Sentinels are programmed to destroy all of mankind. Morpheus believes “The One” will indeed fulfill the Oracle’s Prophecy and end the war. Expect nasty things from exiles like Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving), who’s got it bad—connection-wise—for Neo. (Bent on revenge from the race he once despises, Smith is like Pac-Man on yellow dots—he’ll consume everything in his path.)
Who’s Who? Laurence Fishburne is Morpheus. In The Matrix, the big M was a teacher, here, he’s a spiritual leader for Neo and the others. Carrie-Ann Moss is Trinity, the warrior woman with a soft spot for Neo. Jada Pinkett Smith comes on board as Niobe, Morpheus’s ex love and captain of the underground ship Logos. Hugo Weaving is Agent Smith—and Agent Smith, and Agent Smith, and Agent Smith. (aka “So-Many-Me.”)
The Key: Neo’s quest in Reloaded is to locate The Key Maker, the sole soul who’s got his hands on the keys for all the Matrix locks.
Bad Guys: Ghost-like twins sporting a Night of the Living Dead hangover. Plus … The Merovingian (Lambert Wilson), who keeps that sought-after Key Master captive.
Ice, Ice Baby: Reeves worked with 12 stunt men for nearly nine weeks to perfecting a jaw-dropping five-and-a-half-minute routine comprised of over 500 moves. He’s been known to sit in tub of ice. (Really!)
Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Stunt guru Yuen Wo Ping choreographed, among other things, a breathtaking 14-minute fight sequence that unravels atop a speeding 18-wheeler. The sequence took seven weeks to film on a mile-and-a-half-long freeway loop—made especially for this film—at the Alameda Naval Base. Meanwhile, visual effects supervisor John Gaeta, supervised the creation of more than 1,000 virtual effects shots for Reloaded
Matrix 101: Keanu Reeves opted to take advice of the Wachowski Brothers’ and studied up on several key novels with mythic overtones. The two that stand out: Jean Baudrillard’s “Simulacra and Simulation” and Kevin Kelly’s “Out of Control.”
Once You’ve Gone Black . . . Fashionista alert—black is so in, in the future. (It’s got the buzz of yesterday’s vermillion.)
Don’t Loose the Irony: A film trilogy that tells a story of the horrors that may happen if the world pushes technology too far has, in fact, pushed technology further in the telling of it. (The Matrix Revolutions opens in November.)
11 Reasons Why You Really Love The Matrix
11. Because Neo’s obsidian jacket and Trinity’s skin-tight leggings sparked your twentysomething fashion overhaul.
10. Because you’re still grieving the absence of David Carradine (King Fu) and couldn’t be more jazzed that a look-beneath-the-surface-of-things-and-then –kick-some-martial-arts-ass still makes for a winning combination.
9. Because, straight or gay, you’ve developed a crush you have on Keanu Reeves.
8. Because, straight or gay, you’ve developed a crush on Carrie-Ann Moss.
7. Because as Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) is the father you never had.
6. Because it smacks of déjà vu. (Those interwoven themes of mythology, philosophy, emerging technology, and theological references to Christianity, Gnosticism, Zen Buddhism and Taoism—it’s like that epic MGM, cast-of-thousands dream you had that night you went to sleep right after devouring the last slice of pepporoni and mushroom after watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)
5.Because you haven’t felt this aroused in the dark since …
4. Because people actually listen to you when you explain the deep, profound meaning of the movie.
3. Because you, too, feel so misunderstood.
2. Because, while Catholicism never really worked for you, you still dug all the candles and incense.
1. Because, really, nothing is what it seems.