Story of the Scene: 'The Matrix Reloaded' (2003)

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The Independent Culture

One of the most lavish car-chases ever was designed by the Wachowski brothers for their sequel to The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded.

The Wachowskis built, from scratch, and at a cost of $2.5m (£1.25m), a fake freeway on a disused naval base at Alameda in California. The mile-and-a-half road was fenced with a 19ft wall, made from timber and plywood, designed to look like concrete.

There are wraith-like dreadlocked entities wielding cut-throat razors and guns, robotic secret-service types spraying the speeding Cadillac with bullets as it weaves to avoid them, Carrie-Anne Moss delivering motorcycle acceleration way beyond human ability, cars rolling and cartwheeling, and good old Laurence Fishburne deploying some slick taekwondo moves and samurai-sword balletics on top of a speeding rig.

The sequence is especially beloved by Matrix nerds keen on the significance of various road- and truck-signs along the way, including logos referring to Gulliver's Travels, the oft-repeating numeral 101, and an exit signboard to Paterson Pass, allegedly a reference to production designer Owen Paterson.

General Motors donated more than a hundred cars for the scene, all of which were trashed. Intriguingly, many of the moments which look like CGI are not – when Agent Johnson spectacularly jumps onto the bonnet of a speeding car and crushes it, it is, in fact, a real-time stunt.