Despatches - Photo Special
Our first look at the eagerly-awaited Matrix sequels
by Ben Woodhams
Surely one of the most anticipated films of 2003 is set to be The Matrix Reloaded, which will see The Matrix cast members Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Laurence Fishburne reunited to fight for humanity's survival. Since the Wachowski brother's smash hit blew audiences away in 1999, rumours about proposed sequels have abounded - and here, at last, are some authorized images so we call finally see what all the fuss has been about.
The Matrix Reloaded was filmed back to back with a second sequel, The Matrix Revolutions, and they're looking set to be almost released that way as well: Reloaded is set for May 2003 release, while Revolutions follows up a mere six months later in November. The close release dates are reflected in the recently released trailer, which despite apparently only showing sequences from Reloaded also serves as a trailer for Revolutions. Along with The Lord of the Rings movies and the Harry Potter franchise, the Wachowskis are clearly promoting the kind of regular, serial habits in film-goers not seen since the days of Saturday serials - but with gaps between instalments measured in months rather than days.
The photos give us a pretty good idea of what to expect from the sequels. First of all, Hugo weaving returns as Agent Smith (or at least an Agent Smith, since the original was apparently destroyed by Neo in the first film), and seems to be as spry as ever. A fair number of shots focus on the wire-work effects that helped make The Matrix such a resounding success and which changed the way big budget action movies are made.
Also familiar are the wardrobe - no drastic image changes for neo-Goth Neo. And Morpheus' craft also reappears, although crewmember Harold Perrineau Jr. as lock is a fresh addition to the cast. Also new is Jada Pickett Smith, who co-starred with husband Will Smith in Ali, as Niobe, a young woman who's joined the freedom fighters after being released from the Matrix.
According to Laurence Fishburne, we'll also get to see the "last human city" mentioned in The Matrix, Zion, and judging from one of the images: the humans there ain't happy! The large staircase pictured is the location for what promises to be a monumentally impressive action set piece as Neo faces off against Agent Smith and his shaded cohorts. As producer Joel Silver pursuits: "I really think the bar has been raised so high that, you know... there is no bar."