Virtually every review I've heard of this has panned it, so I went in warily, half-expecting the worst follow-up since Phantom Menace.
And indeed, the dialogue was long and awkward and sprinkled liberally with fifty-cent words, and the action scenes were occasionally gratuitious and deeply absurd and usually lasted a bit too long, and there was a thoroughly pointless rave scene, and too much use of bullet time, and I can never get over the expectation that Reeves is gonna bust out with an "Excellent!" in mid-scene, and really, the whole movie is based on a completely ridiculous sci-fi premise somewhere between "And it was all a dream!" and "And it was all a computer game!" and thus, is fundamentally more hole than plot.
In short, it was exactly like the first one. I quite enjoyed it.
I mean, c'mon. If you went to the Matrix to see deep philosophy, you need to get out more often. It was never some kind of great psychological thriller. "Ooooo, we're all in a machine!" Dude, if you hadn't tripped over that reality-isn't-real premise in a sci-fi or fantasy novel by now...what have you been reading? You'd have to write like God to get a novel published with that kind of premise these days, because it's been done to death, resurrected, shot in the head, thrown out a window, shot again a few times, burned, buried, and its ashes sewn with salt. It's a terrible premise. It's a predictable premise. It was the premise of freaking "Wizard of Oz" for god's sake! "And you were there, and you were there...you in the vinyl catsuit and wraparound sunglasses I've never seen before."
However, to judge by the shocking disillusionment in all the reviews, you'd think nobody noticed this the first time, and were expecting "Gone with the Wind" in bullet time. I dunno. Maybe everyone else saw a different movie, and I got the dumb cyberpunk one with the silly premise and all the bullet casings falling and that guy from "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure?" The Matrix was not that great a movie. It was not some kind of cyberpunk apotheosis of all modern disillusion. It was not a life changing emotional event. I think a large chunk of people took it waaay too seriously and expected waaaay too much. It was a dumbass cyberpunk kung-fu movie. So was the sequel. A really GOOD dumbass cyberpunk kung-fu movie--I mean, shit! Sixty Agent Elronds! That fight on the freeway! Anything with Trinity! Yow! But fundamentally, it's a sci-fi version of "Legend of the Drunken Master"--Big Mean Oppressor vs. Little Guys Who Know Kung-Fu. It provides you with someone to root for, someone to boo at, and a lot of flying kicks. So I fail to understand all the general disillusionment with it as a sequel--yes, it sucked! In a number of ways! So did the first one! You don't go to movies like that to see brilliant dialogue, moving performances, and soul-shattering emotional crescendos, you go to see a bunch of guys in suits kick chicks in leather out windows and get shot at by guys wearing Really Cool Trenchcoats. It was dumb! It was fun! We're allowed to enjoy fun dumb movies!
That said, they did a fabulous job on the action scenes--there were only a few points, mostly in the fight with the sixty Agent Elronds, that I noticed glitches, mostly with the animation when they hit the wall or went flying. That fight lasted a bit too long, probably, since I was sort've dazed by the end of it, but otherwise, good stuff. I can't even believe how much car chase scenes have improved in my lifetime. Noticing that the Oracle gives Neo the red pill halfway through, I assume the second half is actually still in a Matrix inside a Matrix, which is enjoyable to speculate on, although I'm not gonna burn too many braincells on wondering What It All Means, because...see earlier rant. So, in conclusion--good movie. Not a deeply meaningful movie for the ages, but neither was the first one.
Ahem. And that's my nickel.