Matrix Reloaded

The Matrix Reloaded has what is easily the best film car chase of the year, and arguably one of the best of the past several years. It manages to be a near perfect blend of the best of the old and the new. Real cars flipping skyward are reminiscent of the signature stunts of the late 70's and flawless computer generated crashes brought to light how technology can enhance a chase scene.

To be honest, in the category of pure driving, there are a lot of films that do a better job of showcasing how to handle a car. Greats like Bullitt, Ronin, and even Army of One have more skillful driving. But where Matrix Reloaded comes up short in the driving department, it delivers in spades in every other area. The chase builds and changes pace with such intensity that at the halfway point, you can't imagine it getting much better. But it does. The chase starts on the street with a Cadillac Excalade EXT chasing a Caddy CTS. The CTS holds the heroes, Trinity and Morpheus, while the EXT is filled with the 'Twins', a pair of pale, ghost like creatures that can move through solid objects at will. The scene quickly moves to the freeway and once it does, it's all about speed and destruction. Innocent drivers that get in the way of the dueling luxo-cruisers usually end up in a crumpled heap in the middle of the road. One even does a beautiful 360 degree corkscrew in the air before slamming back into the pavement. And during all this, guns are blazing almost nonstop. And when you think it can't get much better, another group enters the chase. The Matrix employs 'agents', nearly unstoppable men than can kick ass like nobody's business. So now you have two Caddy's and assorted Chevy Impala cop cars all hurtling down the highway doing their best to beat the snot out of each other. All the GM product placement was going a little overboard, especially once you notice that most of the bystander vehicles were Oldsmobiles.

And before you can settle down, Trinity jumps on a motorcycle and the chase continues , but now it's against the flow of traffic. The camera seems to struggle to keep pace with the bike, at times even going under vehicles to catch up with the action. When the chase scene is over, you feel as if you've just gone on a thrill ride. It's the type of excitement that doesn't happen often enough in recent movies.

To say a lot of work was put into the chase scene would be an understatement. A 6 lane 1.4 mile stretch of highway, complete with overpasses and a 19foot high wall, was built to use as a stage for many of the shots. The cost of the highway alone was nearly 30 million dollars. Over a dozen Cadillac's were specially outfitted for filming, and then systematically destroyed during their scenes. Even though the Matrix is expected to employ a lot of computer effects, the filmmakers realized that sometimes nothing beats a real driver behind the wheel of a real car. And when computers were brought in, the CGI effects mixed in flawlessly and never became obtrusive or obvious.

There are a lot of big car chase films hitting theatres this summer, including Bad Boys 2 and most notably, a remake of the legendary chase film, The Italian Job. That being said, The Matrix Reloaded has raised the bar this year and it'll take a lot for another film to overtake it.

The Cadillac CTS, semmingly the preferred choice of transportation in the Matrix Reloaded.

The temporary highway that became a 30 million dollar bumper car track

That's gonna leave a mark.

Looking good and going fast.
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