Thursday, May 15, 2003


First reaction: Matrix Reloaded is fantastic. There’s as much depth here as there was in the first, with some new themes and many expansions to the first.

Some questions:

  • Why 314 seconds in the Source? John 3:14 (“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up”)? Or pi? Or a nod to id Software’s Commander Keen game (314 was Commander Keen’s IQ)? After all, the Wachowski brothers are known for their gaming…
  • Persephone. Not sure I get the connection yet, but clearly she’s presented as a vampire of sorts. Having the vampire clips on the TV behind her, the silver bullet, the sword fights, the baroque architecture: very Dracula.
  • Niobe. Not sure. Like Persephone, factors heavily in the Illiad.
  • The Merovingian. Not sure.
  • Commander Locke (update: he’s listed in the credits as Lock, not Locke, so maybe I’m off here), most likely a nod to John Locke. (Key theme: “comprehension is not required for cooperation”.) Note: Locke (the philosopher) is also known as the “philosopher of freedom”. Wonder how that jives with Lock’s stumbling in combatting the sentinels? Interestingly, the counselor giving Lock his comeuppance was played by Cornel West.
  • Architecture. Architecture is clearly a theme: the key to destroying the Matrix is a building, about which there are peculiar characteristics that render it vulnerable (“like any system, it has a weakness”). The restaurant where they meet the Merovingian has some clear Frank Lloyd Wright design influences (remember that the Wachowskis are from Chicago), and Neo’s ultimate confrontation is with someone/something named The Architect.
  • One, 1 and 101 proliferate. No surprises there.
  • Far from subtle, the notion of choice and purpose are central to the film. Humans’ choice is their defining characteristic, says Neo – and it is the “anomaly” in the Matrix that could lead to its downfall, says The Architect. That we would each have a purpose – and that the purpose might be, as in the case of the key maker, to help destroy the Matrix itself – suggests a driving force outside of the Matrix that governs the Matrix. This is of course a bit counterintuitive – if we have a purpose that is predestined, do we choose it or is it chosen for us? If the latter, by whom?
  • To that last question, my wife had an interesting suggestion: what if, towards the end of the film, Neo can now control the environment outside the Matrix? When he massages Trinity’s heart, you see the code in the Matrix but you see his bones on Trinity’s monitor on the Nebuchadnezzar. That doesn’t follow what we know (or think we know) about the Matrix: the Matrix is a representation of what we are in the “real world”, not the other way around. When the sentinels approach (and they’re no longer in the Matrix), Neo is able to destroy the sentinels. This is possible only if he’s obtained power – and control – outside of his ability to manipulate the Matrix.

I definitely want to see the scenes with the Merovingian, the Oracle, and the Architect again. Each reveals far more than I caught in the first viewing. While I agree with a few of the points that David Edelstein makes in today’s Slate (he adored the first, was underwhelmed with Reloaded), I’m ultimately more forgiving than he is. There’s more to this than we can pick up the first time around, and there was no way they could make lightning strike twice. This is a good successor to the first – but not surprisingly, it’s not as “new” as the first was.

Stay through the credits, by the way – the trailer for Matrix Revolutions follows. And that’s really the message: Reloaded is less a film on its own than a middle act in a trilogy.

At the conclusion of Reloaded, we’re left right back where we were when Trinity approached Neo:

“What is the Matrix?”

If anything, the answer is far less clear now than it was at the end of the first.


  1. Hey, great connection between Cmdr. Locke and John Lock (philosopher). I hadn't thought of that one. I did have some thoughts on the scene w/the Merovingian, though, which you may or may not find interesting. I'm thinking it has a lot to do w/Nietzsche -- my girlfriend made the connection btwn. Neo's "superman thing" and Nietzsche's "overman" (superman). Plus the connection in the first film to nihilism (another big Nietzschean theme) that we get when Neo opens Simulacra and Simulation to the chapter entitled "On Nihilsm." Choice, purpose, power, why -- great stuff.

    The film definitely improves on a second viewing, IMO, although I still don't know what to think (for sure) about why Neo can stop the sentinels at the end. Is Zion just another facet of the matrix? (Others are calling this a matrix within the matrix idea.) Or is it something more like what your wife suggested? This question alone will keep fans guessing until "Revolutions" comes out. Fun.

  2. Oops, it looks like html doesn't work in your comments. My post re: the Merovingian (and other things) is at:

  3. Maybe Neo is the ONE of ones: he can control the real world as well because of being a real saviour, something the machines didn't see coming. Also, what does the body that one of the Agent Smiths take over do? That looks interesting. And maybe a human made the Matrix?

  4. Hey all, have any of you come across the text of Neo's converesation with the Oracle and Neo's conversation with the Merovingian?

  5. Just stumbled here, but am I the only one who thinks that maybe Neo didn't actually stop the sentinels at the end, and it was the ship that came up shortly thereafter? I don't remember if we saw anything EMP-like, but my impression was that it was a clever use of timing, etc.

  6. Neo is the Sixth One. While no small part of The Architect's monologue dwelt on perfection, six is the number of imperfection. I'm not sure of whether to think of this contradiction as an affirmation of Neo's ability to defeat the system or an omen of doom, somehow suggesting that he is insufficient -- too imperfect -- to carry out his task.

  7. Accipiter, that's interesting, but keep in mind that perfection is the trademark of the machines...imperfection is equated with the fact that he's the sixth may be another affirmation of Neo's humanity, or at least how he is *mostly* human.

  8. I'm not sure but does anyone have a thought about Neo's out of the Matrix powers to stop the sentinal (Squidy), are the brothers "W" trying to suggest he has super human powers outside the Matrix too?

    Here's another little bit of info to ponder.
    Could Neo and everyone else be inside another Matrix. A Matrix within a Matrix???

  9. Caught Reloaded last night. I don't know what the crybaby critics were complaining about. It's an intelligent action movie. I loved it.

    Points of note:
    --- The candy that the Oracle gave to Neo was a red pill.
    --- The gift from the orphan to Neo as he left was a spoon.
    --- Persephone in Greek mythology was the Wife of Hades. This makes Merovingian (named after French kings ruling from 481 to 737 A.D.) the Devil. How repellently appropriate that he is a Francophile.
    --- Neo's clothing resembles that of an Orthodox priest.
    --- Neo must find the keymaker, as Rick Moranis was in Ghostbusters.

    I predict that in Revolutions, Neo revives as the 7th Neo (he's the one, he's the one, the one they call the seventh son, as Johnny Rivers sang). He will go to the source and destroy it this time. However, like a giant computer, it will just reboot.

  10. Yeah they could actually be in a sub prison to make extra sure that no one can escape from the matrix. Maybe at the end of revolutions neo will wake up on his computer desk and it will all have been a big dream. But that would be the lamest ending ever.

  11. i think you have all made very good and interesting comments, however, i think that the reason neo now has power in the real world is because of the interaction btw him and agent smith at the end of the first movie and his affirmation of the importance of choice and love btw him and trinity-love is the key and that is what makes neo different to his predecessors, which is why persephone, a programme and possibly the source of the matrix tries to understand by kissing neo???

  12. We need to remember, outside of the Matrix, Neo is just another human, devoid of any superhuman powers. How then does he stop the sentinels? There must be more than one Matrix, perhaps an inner and an outer Matrix. Perhaps Neo is just so powerful that he has powers in both Matrix's.
    I've heard some people say that he stopped the sentinels because of a connection between Neo, the peole in tubes from which the sentinels draw their power and the actual sentinels. I don't want to discard and theories, but there is no relation between a charged battery and the power point with which you charged it.

  13. I thought that the strongest evidence that the "real world" was another level of the matrix was the spoon that Neo was given by one of the orphans(?). You'll notice how much more perceptive the spoonbending candidate that Neo meets in the Oracle's apartment in Matrix 1 is.

    Or it may be a more traditional unspoken zen koan.

  14. It just dawned on me recently that Neo being the "Sixth One" could be link somewhat to earth now.

    Earth has been through FIVE cycles of mass extinctions whereby in each mass extinction, a large number of species are killed off, and life starts all over again. Now, we are currently going through what scientists call the Sixth Mass Extinction - The Holocene.

    Equivalent to this cycle of Mass Extinction, Neo is being seen as the saviour to prevent the Mankind's sixth mass extinction in the movie, thus he being named the sixth one.

    Comments anyone?