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Reloaded, Rested, and Ready

"The Matrix: Reloaded" piles on the detail, dabbles with higher math, and makes a star out of Cornel West.

12:00 AM, May 15, 2003 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
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A FINAL VERDICT on "Reloaded" is probably months away, but there are three cringe-inducing moments in the film. Two are the result of hideous dialogue foisted on a gifted actor (Harold Perrineau, in a thankless role), the other comes from the sudden, meaningless appearance of Cornel West.

Whatever their other merits, the Wachowski brothers have an affinity for junk-academics, which doesn't speak well of them. They hired the omnisexual campus fixture Susie Bright as a consultant for "Bound" and were so taken with her that they gave her a bit part and included her in the commentary track on the DVD. Now they've given West eight or nine seconds of screen time as an excuse to hang out with the rapping professor in Sydney during filming.

For starters, their tastes in faculty worship don't inspire great confidence in the intellectual underpinnings of their work. But on a more general level, while celebrity cameos are fine for "Friends" they can be disastrous in semi-serious movies. Nothing strains an audience's suspension of disbelief like a slap across the face reminding you that behind the story are a bunch of famous people snapping towels.

People like the Wachowski brothers spend a lot of money (about $150 million on "Reloaded") trying to make audiences believe that the impossible worlds they are seeing are real. To squander that goodwill on a celebrity cameo is both selfish and creatively destructive.

Those of us who are rooting for the Wachowskis should hope they don't do it again.

Jonathan V. Last is online editor of The Weekly Standard.