The One And Only
With THE MATRIX RELOADED breaking box office records and the countdown to THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS well underway, star KEANU REEVES takes David Bassom inside the Matrix saga.
Keanu Reeves always knew The Matrix was The One for him. From the moment he first learned about its Kung-Fu fighting and gravity-defying computer-generated setting, Reeves was keen to get plugged into writer-directors Larry and Andy Wachowski's virtual reality/action saga. And following his experience on the smash-hit 1999 blockbuster, Reeves was happy to re-enter the Matrix for it's two sequels, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.
"I loved the material when I first read it," says Reeves of his response to the original movie. "I was excited about the script, and then the experience of making the film was a great one. When the idea came up to complete the trilogy, I just signed on board without reading the scripts because of the experience I'd had and the trust I had in the brothers.
"What Larry and Andrew are trying to achieve in their storytelling, the physical action they present and the elements of new cinema and technology they have invented to create images, is unparalleled," he states proudly.
Set a few months after events in the original movie, The Matrix Reloaded sees Reeves' futuristic freedom fighter Neo returning to the Matrix in search of a way to save the last human city, Zion, from an imminent attack by the all-powerful Machines. The film develops Neo's relationships with Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), and sees Neo exploring his role as the prohesized saviour of humanity - 'The One'.
"The second film is really a personal quest for Neo," notes Reeves. "He's going through a process of trying to come to terms with what he's been asked to do. He's on a further quest for the truth, and this means he has to fight harder than before and confront visions of the future."
He Knows Kung Fu
As Neo's quest unfolds, he once again confronts the Matrix's unstopable Agents in a series of reality-defying action sequences. Unsurprisingly, Reeves reports that the process of bringing these elaborate Kung Fu-fuelled scenes to celluloid was even more challenging than that of the first film.
"It started with four months of training - just basic stretching, kicking and punching," he recalls. "Then you come into choreography and get ready to put the whole dance together.
"It was a lot more demanding this time. The fights were a little more sophisticated. They weren't just one-on-one, there were multi-character fights and the weapons involved required more training." he notes. "There are more movements in one particular fight for Reloaded than there were in the whole of the first movie."
Although Reeves famously suffered a serious neck injury while preparing to shoot the first movie, the superstar actor insists that he never even considered trying to take it easy during the making of the Matrix sequels.
"The whole aspect of training and why we do it is just so we can participate in the physical action the directors want us to do," he explains. "They feel that if you can get close and see the actors performing action scenes like an acting scene - in other words, so you can see us doing what we're doing - then hopefully your experience of the film will be enhanced. You can relate to the characters if you can see them going through what they go through. So that's why we do it.
"It's also one of the most enjoyable aspects of it," he adds with a grin. "It's good fun."
WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD
Despite the film's rigorous physical demands, Reeves is quick to point out that there's far more to The Matrix Reloaded than just groundbreaking action sequences. The movie also touches on a number of philosophical ideas, which Reeves researched at the Wachowski brothers' request by reading Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation plus Kevin Kelly's Out of Control. Although Reeves doesn't claim to understand all the philosphy that ambiguously underpins the Marix saga, he feels that one of the its key issues really comes to the fore in the sequels.
"The cost of knowledge is an important theme," he notes. "In the second and third films, they explore the consequences of Neo's choice to know the truth."
While Reeves has no doubt in the power of the Wachowski brothers' saga, the 38-year-old star of Speed, Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and Point Break admits that he himself doesn't know exactly what he will ultimately take away from his involvement with the Matrix trilogy.
"I'm still finding that out," he explains. "First of all, it's an incredible role and I got to work with really great artists and people. Participating in a film that I specifically loved so much, from the page, and then creating it, and the amount of time it took, was great.
"Sometimes when you make a film, you go away for three months, make the movie and then come back to your life. But this experience was my life for so long and it struck a deep chord in me. I just don't have the ability to speak about it in an objective way yet."
The Matrix Reloaded is at cinemas now. The Matrix Revolutions is released on 5 November.