Thomas (Reeves), a salaryman at a software company, leads a secret double life. As 'Neo' he's a computer hacker much in demand. But only when Trinity (Moss) introduces him to charismatic seer Morpheus (Fishburne) does Neo learn that the whole world's unwittingly in the same boat: life as we know it is merely virtual reality, a 'matrix' designed by mankind's overlords to hold us in unquestioning obeisance. Not only are Morpheus and his rebel crew fighting to regain our freedom, but the leader has a bee in his bonnet: might not Neo be the One, who'll lead us to salvation? For its first hour, the second feature by the Wachowskis works well enough as an ambitious if rather portentous dystopian fantasy in the vein of eXistenZ and Blade Runner. Though sometimes a little clumsy, the frequent switches between the different 'realities' are entertainingly ingenious, Bill Pope's camerawork and Owen Paterson's designs are slickly impressive, and the effects neatly embrace Cronenbergian body horror and comic strip panache. But the characters, too, are paper thin (Keanu, especially), while the promising premise is steadily wasted as the film turns into a fairly routine action pic, complete with facile Hollywood heroics, cod kung-fu homilies and computer enhanced martial arts scenes. Weaving is engagingly odd as the rebels' arch enemy Smith, but even he can't hold the attention in what's finally yet another slice of overlong, high concept hokum.