The Matrix Reloaded, the sequel to the 1999 surreal science fiction movie The Matrix, turns 15 this year. With an increased budget and plans to top the first movie, Reloaded challenged the Wachowskis to improve on the special effects and story. Some believed the plot was convoluted and weak; that it didn’t add to the lore of The Matrix universe. Others felt, much like the first film, that it was over the heads of the common filmgoer. And yet many found Reloaded a wonderful and worthy sequel.
The sequel takes place 6 months after The Matrix and involves Neo (Keanu Reeves) and his band of “rebels” keeping Zion hidden from probes before they find and destroy it. Also, Neo must try to save Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) - who he is now romantically involved with - from her impending end foretold in his dreams. There is a lot going on in Reloaded, and shifting your attention away even for a second may confuse you.
With a high-octane action movie like Reloaded - and a budget to match - you’d expect some compelling behind-the-scenes things to make its way to the public. And your expectations would be fulfilled!
This sequel managed to have drama and issues and interesting facts. If you enjoyed Reloaded the first time, you might watch it differently after reading some of these crazy things about the movie. Yes, even crazier than the plot.
Here are 16 Crazy Things You Didn’t Know About The Matrix Reloaded.
16 Keanu Reeves gave most of his salary to the crew
Making just over $740 million worldwide at the box office, The Matrix Reloaded is the highest-grossing film in The Matrix franchise. What probably helped was the number of prints sent to theaters on release. The studio sent over 8500 copies to movie theaters, which earned Reloaded the Guinness Book of World Record for “Widest Print Run.”
That is an impressive number, considering the special effects alone cost around $100 million. Right before release, it was reported that Keanu Reeves opted not to take his contracted share of the ticket sales because the producers weren’t positive they’d recoup their budget.
It didn’t matter anyway: Reeves gave most of his salary back to the production crew, saying “I could live off what I’ve made [in movies] for centuries.”
15 The Highway Scene
One of the most memorable scenes in Reloaded is the highway chase scene. Cars and motorcycles battled and crashed on the highway to create an intense fight between the good and bad guys.
That highway wasn’t a real highway. Most films request permission from a state or city to use roadways, but Reloaded production built the highway you saw in the movie from scratch. It was 1.5 miles of asphalt constructed on a decommissioned Navy base in Almeda.
When the movie was done filming, the entire highway was destroyed.
GM also donated 300 cars, which were also destroyed during and after production was complete. Years later, that Navy base was used by the show Mythbusters to test impact between two semis - much like what occurred in Reloaded.
14 Cheat Codes Hidden in the Movie
There was more to the highway scene than intricate chases and big crashes. If you happened to catch Reloaded in theaters when first released, then you had a chance to find references to another part of The Matrix universe - if you paid close attention.
As the billboards rushed by during the actual chase, there were hexadecimal codes written on the billboards along the highway. These codes were actually cheat codes for the companion videogame Enter the Matrix. You used the codes in conjunction with a hacking mini-game within Enter the Matrix to activate the cheat codes.
For later theatrical releases and for the DVD/home video versions of Reloaded, the billboards where changed out with actual advertisements. However, if you never obtained those codes, you can still find them online.
13 Replacements for Aaliyah (Zee)
Aaliyah was a popular singer chosen to play the role of Zee in The Matrix sequels. Unfortunately, in 2001, Aaliyah lost her life in a plane crash. She had already shot some of her scenes for Reloaded before she passed, but the studio decided to recast Zee.
One choice for Aaliyah’s replacement was Eva Mendes, but she had been filming Exit Wounds and Training Day, so it’s possible that’s why she declined the role. Samantha Mumba, another singer, was considered. Brandy Norwood (known more commonly just as Brandy) was a possibility. Tatyana Ali - Ashley Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - had a shot for the part of Zee. Even Da Brat, a rapper, auditioned for the part.
Of course, the role went to Nona Gaye, the daughter or legendary singer Marvin Gaye.
12 The set was reused for homes in Mexico
When a movie is done filming (or a TV show has been canceled), did you ever wonder what happens to the sets? Most get destroyed. Some get saved for sequels or later seasons. Even some sets get re-used for similar movies or shows. Like how Star Trek re-used sets from series to series (Deep Space Nine used some sets from The Next Generation.)
After Reloaded was completed, instead of trashing the sets, the studio decided to donate the materials. So, about 97% of the materials for the sets were given to needy people and countries. This really only included non-damaged, useful, and sturdy materials.
For example, some of the wood and stone structures were broken down and used to build low-income housing in Mexico.
11 The movie's codenames
With great reviews and box office numbers for The Matrix, it was a good prediction at the time to suggest that The Matrix Reloaded would fare well also. Surprising, anything with The Matrix Reloaded printed on it suddenly became in high demand.
It didn’t matter what it was, people wanted merchandise from the upcoming movie.
This meant fans would obtain it any way possible, including theft. Studio heads were so concern that the promotional materials would be stolen, they sent out those materials to theaters and retail stores under codenames. They used the titles Caddyshack 2 and The Replacements (which also starred Keanu Reeves).
Because theaters weren’t expecting anything from those two movies, it confused theaters, and many didn’t put any of the cardboard stands or posters out until the very last minute.
10 The Agent Smith fight scene took 27 days to shoot
While the freeway chase scene was the most memorable, the scene in Reloaded that was most impressive and most fun to watch was where Neo fights multiple Agent Smiths.
This fight scene is known as the “Burly Brawl.”
What might seem crazy is that one scene took 27 days to shoot. Some movies are shot in full in the same amount of time! In combination with motion capture and CGI, it’s no wonder it took that long. And how many Smiths does Neo fight? Only 80.
Another interesting tidbit about that scene is the sound effects. Foley artists used toppling dominoes and bowling balls knocking over bowling pins to simulate punches and kicks. This, of course, all had to be added in during post production.
9 All lead actors were injured on set
A movie like The Matrix Reloaded - with its heavy action and martial arts moves - is almost guaranteed to cause its actors or actresses to sustain injuries. Stuntmen and stuntwomen were used, but most of the main actors and actresses did their own stunts, especially when it came to the martial arts.
While training for a wire stunt, Carrie-Anne Moss broke her leg.
While training for fight scenes, she also had bruised knees that had her on crutches for 6 weeks. Reeves, who trained extensively for the martial arts sequences, had a minor foot injury that had a cast on it for some time.
Laurence Fishburne broke his arm while training for a separate incident than Moss. Hugo weaving threw out a disc in his neck when he was jerked back unexpectedly on a wire.
8 Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh almost played Seraph
It’s hard to imagine any other actor or actress playing the characters they started with (Reeves and Moss, for example). Or casting someone else in a role when the perfect actor or actress was finally found. But the role of Seraph in Reloaded could have went to someone else.
The Seraph character was created and written specifically for Jet Li.
When asked, he requested he receive just as much money as Keanu Reeves was getting for the movie. When the studio and producers refused, Jet Li declined the role. So the part was changed to a female and offered to Michelle Yeoh, who also turned it down, but only because she had scheduling conflicts.
The role was changed back to male. Collin Chou ultimately took the part.
7 Sean Connery turned down a role because he didn't understand it
After a movie is released and you learn what actors or actresses could have played what roles, sometimes the one who almost played a character makes you think, “Yeah, they would have been great!”
The Architect is the mastermind behind The Matrix, creating a utopia for humans.
But The Matrix isn’t perfect and has to be augmented occasionally as the human minds keep rejecting it. The character is played by the great Helmut Bakaitis.
However, someone thought Sean Connery would have been perfect for the part or The Architect. If you’ve seen Connery with white hair and beard, then you can see why. In an interview on The League of Extraordinary Men DVD, Connery says that he declined the role because he “didn’t understand the concept of the movie.”
6 Banned in Egypt
Movies and TV shows get banned in countries for different reasons. Violence and religion are two common reasons why this may occur.
Soon after Reloaded released, Egypt banned the movie due to its “violent” content and because of how it interprets various religious themes. The censorship board for Egypt said the storyline about the search for the creator (The Architect) and “control of the human race, may cause crises.”
They also claimed the violent scenes could “harm social peace.” Their film committee consisted of 15 people from different walks of life, including academics and psychologists. They praised the technology and effects, but said, “it explicitly handles the issue of existence and creating, which are related to the three divine religions, which we all respect and believe in.” They feared “screening the movie may cause troubles.”
5 No Script Needed
Very few movies get made without complete scrutiny from directors, producers, and actors. Through the development process, when thoughts of casting start, actors and actresses aren’t quick to hop on board a project based on a logline or simple synopsis. It's usually not until a final script is completed that an actor reads through and considers a movie. Unless that script is The Matrix Reloaded.
Two actors and one actress signed on to the the sequel without even reading the script.
That’s how much confidence they had in Reloaded and the Wachowskis. Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus), Jada Pinkett-Smith (Niobe), and Anthony Brandon Wong (Ghost) must have felt Reloaded was a project they couldn’t miss so they jumped on board, sensing the script, story, and production would be top notch.
4 Lana Wachowski Explains Reloaded's Dislike
Did you think The Matrix Reloaded was a good sequel or just that it was to cereberal to enjoy? Lana Wachowski apparently thought people didn’t like the movie and knew why.
“What we were trying to achieve with the story overall was a shift,” she explains. Lana wanted the audience to experience the same type of “shift” as Neo as he progressed through the movies. “So the first movie is sort of classical in its approach, the second movie is deconstructional and an assault on all the things you thought to be true in the first movie.”
For many fans reading that explanation, Lana seemed to want to push Reloaded (and the other movies) into high art for a select few. Even her explanation needs an explanation.
3 Hacking the Bible
A number of references make their way into Reloaded, both Biblical and referring back to the first movie.
When Agent Smith rolls up in the Audi, the license plate reads ‘IS 5416,’ which speaks to Isaiah 54:16 in Bible. The verse says “Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the firer, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.”
When Trinity hacks her way into The Matrix, she uses a real-world hacking tool. The technical name is an Nmap version 2.54BETA25. When the Keymaker tells Neo that he must knock out 27 blocks of power and will have 314 seconds before power re-routes, this references the 27th book of the New Testament (Revelations), Chapter 3, verse 14. The two freeways mentioned - 101 and 303 - are Neo’s apartment number and hotel room respectively.
2 Removing The Color
In a sense, the Matrix movies are color-coded. For most of the series, a green tint populates the screen, indicating that Neo and crew are indeed in “The Matrix.” The green tint is so prominent that it makes some of the black or dark outfits greenish.
The differences between the real-world and the Matrix are subtle, but they’re there.
Color was less important for the movie, so much so that when some of the scenes were shot in Oakland, California, special care had to be taken so the “real-world” color didn’t confuse viewers.
First, since some of the sidewalks in Oakland had red and blue traffic markers on them, they had to be re-painted. Also, plant life and leaves would have contradicted Reloaded, so filming was done in the winter, when production wouldn’t have to worry about removing greenery via CGI.
1 8 months of martial arts training
There is a lot of martial arts in any of The Matrix movies, Reloaded included. Plus, there are dangerous stunts, especially involving the freeway chase scene.
Carrie-Anne Moss took 6 months to get the unique Scorpion Kick just right in that first scene.
She also did some of the motorcycle driving in the highway scene. She had trained on motorcycles in the first one, but this required different abilities.
For all the main actors and actresses, martial arts training began in November 2000 and lasted 8 months prior to filming. While those returning for Reloaded had done extensive training for the first movie, some of the fight sequences in the sequel would be more complex.
Professional Taekwondo instructors were used for some of the stunts, including a silver medalist from the World Taekwondo Federation.
What did you think of The Matrix Reloaded? Let us know in the comments!