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An army of Agent Smiths (Hugo Weaving) attacks Neo (Keanu Reeves). He trounces each and every one. Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss), an automatic in each hand, blazes away at a Matrix Agent during a backward free fall into the night. Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) fights an Agent on the roof of a semi speeding down the highway.

In The Matrix Reloaded, writers/directors Larry and Andy Wachowski plunge the audience deeper into the Alice in Wonderland world of its predecessor, The Matrix. Answers raise questions, and explanations create confusion. The "Oracle," (the late Gloria Foster) returns with a mystifying message and the surprising truth of her existence. What a Cheshire Cat of a character!

At least the main mission provides a clear-cut objective -- Neo, Trinity and Morpheus must find the "Keymaker," (Randall Duk Kim) and, with his help, penetrate the Matrix's core.

Zion's survival depends upon their success. That underground city faces imminent invasion. Those deadly mechanical critters, the Sentinels, persistently drill their way through the earth's layers until they are only hours away from breaking through and attacking this last human stronghold.

What about those multiple Agent Smiths? Well, after Neo got under his skin and blew him away at the end of The Matrix, Agent Smith suffered a disconnect from the program and turned into a rouge virtual reality. But, on the bright side, Agent Smith develops a new power -- self-replication. He creates an Agent Smith "brigade" and one very special replicant.

The actors' improved wire work and Yuen Lo Ping's martial arts choreography produce seamless all-out action. Identical-twin zombies (Neil and Adrian Rayment), with dreadlocks and snappy white suits, prove villains of another dimension.

The Zion scenes constitute the film's weak point. The inhabitants dress in a mix of 1960s hippie, early Christian and unidentifiable "gone native" garb. The city's atmosphere combines scientific logic and religious fervor. When Neo arrives in Zion, a crowd of supplicants greets him like a messiah. They even bring baskets of offerings.

Later, after listening to Morpheus 's rousing speech about ultimately defeating the Matrix, the Zion crowd feverishly dances to frenzied drum beats. This wild and uninhibited scene provides the backdrop to Neo and Trinity making love. The camera moves from the dance to the lovers and back to the dance. The lovers, unfortunately, never dissolve into the same reckless abandon.

The movie's biggest surprise comes when Neo discovers the true meaning of "The One" in this fabricated and pre-programmed world.

The Matrix Reloaded closes with the classic cliffhanger phrase, "To Be Continued." And, like the archetypal cliffhanger, the film provides the hint for its conclusion in The Matrix Revolution. However, the savvy viewer won't use this as their cue to exit, but remain for the surprising conclusion of the credits.

Lynn I. Miller

Click here to see Lynn Miller's Review of The Matrix Reloaded

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