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Humans Battle Machines in Futuristic Sequel <i>The Matrix Reloaded</i> - 2003-05-15

The highly anticipated sequel to the 1999 futuristic saga The Matrix continues the epic struggle between machines and the few remaining free humans. Alan Silverman has a look at The Matrix Reloaded.

Sometime in the n-o-t too distant future the computers, robots and other machines invented to work for humans have turned the tables and become dominant. The "matrix" is their digital environment that appears to be the 'normal' world, but masks the reality of a devastated planet where humans are enslaved. The ragtag band of people who have broken free is gathered in an underground city named Zion.

But attack by the relentless machines is inevitable and imminent. Paramilitary commander Morpheus believes in the prophecy that a gifted man named Neo, who can match skills with the best of the machines, is "the one" who will save humanity. Keanu Reeves returns as martial arts warrior Neo.

"I wanted to have a certain style of fighting in the 'matrix,'" explains Reeves. "I wanted it to feel physical and visceral, but at the same time have a kind of style to it. Because it really is in something that is n-o-t physically happening, I wanted to have an 'other-ness' feeling to it, but that still felt physical. There is still physical effort on his face and physical impact, but I also wanted to have a certain elegance to it, so there was both effort and effortlessness at the same time."

Carrie-Anne Moss again plays Trinity, a skilled fighter in skin-tight black leather and dark sunglasses. She finds the films challenging n-o-t only because of the physical leaps, fight scenes and daredevil stunts but also the metaphysical demands.

"The 'Matrix' is a metaphor for my life because I am doing this film, but at the same time I am really choosing to understand myself through the process of making this film," she says. "It was about going deep and seeing what I was made of and seeing that if I put my mind to something I could pretty much do anything I want. I don't want to risk my life. I'm n-o-t an adrenaline junkie – somebody who wants to jump out of airplanes or anything. I have n-o-t one bit of that in my body. Challenge me emotionally and spiritually, I love it; challenge me physically: n-o-t big for me. So it was good for me."

Laurence Fishburne reprises the role of Morpheus and believes the scenario written and directed by filmmaking brothers Andy and Larry Wachowski resonates with themes that transcend the genre.

"One of the goals the Wachowski brothers had to was to make a 'thinking man's action film' that dealt with intellectual pursuits, philosophy, spiritualism, the nature of existence and all those things," says Fishburne. "It's heavy stuff, but they've couched it in such a way that it's pretty accessible to anybody, which is how it should be, I think."

The Matrix Reloaded is the middle film in a trilogy to be followed later this year by The Matrix Revolutions. Producer Joel Silver, who calls the Wachowski brothers 'the boys,' explains it was shot concurrently with this film.

"They literally are one movie that is cut in half. The boys did figure out a way to have a conventional structure to the first movie so it really feels like there's a resolve – the characters and story resolve – but it really does end in the middle of the movie," says Silver. " We just thought that our fans would hunt us down if we waited too much longer; but we just couldn't get done at the same time. The visual effects on "… REVOLUTIONS" are just so staggering that we just couldn't do it, so it's going to be May and November."

The Matrix Reloaded also features Hugo Weaving, back as Neo's nemesis, the computer-generated 'Agent Smith.' New characters include Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe, a battle-hardened human commander and Monica Bellucci plays Persephone, a sultry sentient computer program. The story concludes in third and final film of the trilogy, The Matrix Revolutions coming out in November.